Concrete Masonry Check-off Program Authorization Passes US Congress

[Herndon, VA – October 3, 2018] Earlier today, the U.S. Senate passed the Concrete Masonry Products Research, Education and Promotion Act, providing Congressional authorization for the concrete masonry products industry to develop its own commodity checkoff program to support needed industry initiatives.
major Olgivie

The concrete masonry products bill was included in H.R. 302 as part of the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2018. Having already passed the House of Representatives, it now goes to President Trump, who is expected to sign before October 7.

“This is a great day for our industry,” said Major Ogilvie of CEMEX USA, national chair of the concrete masonry checkoff initiative since 2010. “We demonstrated a level of perseverance on this initiative that is only matched by the resilience of the products that we manufacture. By standing together, we will not only strengthen our industry, but our communities."

"We applaud the members of Congress for recognizing that the small businesses in our industry can accomplish even greater things together if we can more effectively pool our resources to promote ourselves,” says Ogilvie.

Kent Waide

Just The Beginning

“Our work is just beginning,” said National Concrete Masonry Association Chairman of the Board Kent Waide of Ruby Concrete. “Congress did not create a concrete masonry checkoff program, they only authorized it. Our entire industry will now begin the earnest discussions about how we develop a program that is meaningful to concrete block manufacturers of all kinds – those large and small, those in all regions of the U.S., and those with all kinds of local market interests. We will present the value proposition to rationalize an increased investment to collectively promote the value of concrete masonry systems.

An industry referendum on program creation would likely occur in mid-to-late 2019, with every company that manufactures concrete masonry products being provided the opportunity to vote.

Numerous commodity checkoff programs already exist. Most of these programs relate to agricultural products under the management of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) oversees two such programs: propane and heating oil. Concrete masonry products would be the second such program related to construction products, the other being softwood lumber under USDA, and the first under the Department of Commerce.

Bipartisan Approach

Ogilvie expressed pride in the manner in which the advocacy effort was conducted. “Manufacturers and contractors in our industry invested a lot of time and energy to get to know their representatives and to share the impact of their businesses on local communities. We visited hundreds of congressional offices, secured nearly 300 bi-partisan co-sponsors when we were a stand-alone bill, and we were frequently praised on Capitol Hill for doing this the ‘right way’.” Ogilvie also praised the hard work of the bill sponsors who worked within a bipartisan approach to figure out how to move the legislation in a challenging environment. Representatives Brett Guthrie (R-KY) and Kathy Castor (D-FL) and Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) and have each acted as bill sponsors for the last three congressional terms.

Robert D. Thomas

winner: the public

NCMA President Robert Thomas maintains that the real winner through this congressional action is the general public. “People in this country deserve to live, work, shop, and learn in buildings that are resilient and durable. If we are successful, there will be more structures locally sourced, manufactured and constructed, creating more American jobs. These structures will be thoughtfully built with “strength,” resulting in more fire-resistant, energy-efficient, and cost-effective buildings that do not rot, burn, or decay.”

disaster resilience

BuildStrong

Another notable inclusion in the FAA reauthorization was the Disaster Recovery Reform Act, which represents an unprecedented shift in disaster resilience policy in the U.S. NCMA is an active partner in the BuildStrong Coalition advocating for enhanced pre-disaster mitigation funding and applauds Congress for recognizing that building decisions matter! In particular, NCMA compliments its concrete masonry checkoff bill sponsors who continue to be significant leaders on resilience legislation.

What’s Next?

It is important to note that a concrete masonry checkoff program is not yet in place. Over the coming months, concrete block manufacturers and industry partners will be provided an opportunity to influence how such a program would be developed within the context of the authorizing legislation. The objective is to create an open and transparent development process to ensure that the resulting program fairly represents diverse interests that exist within the industry and ultimately creates a positive return on investment by demonstrating the value of concrete masonry construction and improving its market position.

An industry referendum would be overseen by the Department of Commerce (DOC) and could be conducted in mid-2019. Prior to that referendum, DOC is required to facilitate a public review of the “Order” which will provide details on how the concrete masonry checkoff program would operate and they will also manage a process of enabling eligible companies to register to vote in that referendum. If the referendum is approved, collections of assessments might begin in early 2020.

Please visit this website regularly for updates on the process and for how to learn more and engage.

PROPOSED CONCRETE MASONRY CHECK-OFF

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

WHAT IS A CHECK-OFF PROGRAM?
A check-off is an industry-wide, coordinated and continuous program of research, promotion, and education to support specific generic products.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF A CHECK-OFF PROGRAM?
Check-off programs generate the funding necessary for an industry to successfully implement develop, and manage programs needed to grow market share in today’s competitive environment. Well-funded, properly planned, and carefully monitored programs help create product awareness, business opportunities, and product sales for all producers. Increased market share and sales create jobs, larger payrolls, and expanded tax bases for local communities.
DOES OUR INDUSTRY NEED A CHECK-OFF PROGRAM?
Yes. A check-off program is needed to enable our industry to regain market share. The check-off program will generate the funding to consistently provide the superior promotional activities required to position our products against competition. The programs, which will be directed to national, regional, and local markets, will help regain market share and new business. They will benefit all producers from the smallest to the largest regardless of geographic location.
HOW WILL WE FUND A CONCRETE MASONRY CHECK-OFF PROGRAM?
Every producer in the industry will be assessed a certain amount per product unit produced based on a formula designed by industry representatives. These assessments will be collected by producers at the time of invoicing. They will then be transferred on a quarterly basis to a fund managed by industry representatives and used to support initiatives intended to advance the industry. All concrete masonry producers will pay the same assessment at the same rate. Not only will industry producers benefit from the check-off program, employees, customers, suppliers, and ultimately the local communities will all benefit from the expanded use of our products.
WHO WILL CONTROL THE FUNDS COLLECTED AND DETERMINE HOW THE FUNDS WILL BE USED?
Industry nominated representatives will be charged with oversight of our check-off program. These representatives will be responsible for selecting programs of funding. They will also monitor and evaluate the results of all funded programs.
WILL THE CONCRETE MASONRY CHECK-OFF PROCESS CREATE MORE GOVERNMENT INTERVENTION IN OUR BUSINESS?
No. To enable the concrete masonry industry to assess all producers on a per unit basis and to use this assessment to benefit the industry, the program overall must be congressionally authorized. The administrative aspect of handling the collected funds is born by a third-party that is contracted by and reimbursed for their services by the industry board that is charged with running the program. The only role of the government agency will be to appoint Board members from the industry nominated representatives and to provide oversight of compliance with the provisions of the authorizing Legislation. The program specifically prohibits the oversight agency from sharing any information within and beyond its own agency for any purpose other than its role of program oversight.
WILL THE SMALL LOCAL PRODUCER BENEFIT FROM CONCRETE MASONRY CHECK-OFF PROGRAM?
Yes. All producers will benefit from resulting increased awareness and demand for concrete masonry products. Funding is intended to be used to conduct and implement programs at the local and state levels as well as national and regional levels. Because assessments are based on a per unit basis, small producers pay at the same rate as larger producers resulting in proportionally smaller total contributions. And, the smaller producers often benefit from check-off funded programs that they cannot fund individually.The combined assessment of all producers will empower the industry to fund continuous research, education, and promotional campaigns that will increase market share and the sale of products. This broad base of funding, coupled with the strength of the campaigns and the consistency of the message, will provide a benefit unobtainable through the investment of dollars by a single, local producer or association.
WHAT IS THE ROLE OF THE ASSOCIATIONS IN THE CHECK-OFF PROCESS?
Associations within the concrete masonry industry have been assisting with evaluating the value of a check-off program for the concrete masonry industry and are supporting communication efforts to inform producers within their area about the concept. Once the check-off program is adopted, associations will play a critical role in the success of the check-off program. Associations can recommend needed programs and can contract to implement programs funded by the checkoff program. The industry needs increased support in those areas where check-off programs cannot: advocacy efforts with legislators, regulators, and codes and standards organizations.
HOW WILL THE CHECK-OFF AFFECT REGIONAL AND STATE ASSOCIATION FUNDING?
The check-off process raises awareness of the need to market and communicate the value of our products. This can result in increased participation and funding at the regional, state, and local level. Additionally, the associations can both recommend and can be selected to manage specific check-off projects.
A Concrete Masonry Check-off program will support the growth of the industry by educating designers, contractors, and installers as well as regulators, students, and owners about how to best take advantage of what concrete masonry has to offer. It will provide for significant and sustained research and development for existing and evolving concrete masonry products and systems, and it will enable the industry to better promote the product's benefits. The check-off program will leverage the combined strength of the entire concrete masonry industry while supplying the necessary funding to support industry initiatives and coordinate promotion at the local, state, regional and national levels.
(C) 2018, The Concrete Masonry Check-off Program Leadership Team