Major Ogilvie, longtime chairman of the checkoff campaign, says this outreach is a critical phase of the program.
"Every step as we go forward gets more and more important," says Ogilvie. "We've put together a group of people that—there's no doubt in my mind– will make this part of the process successful."
Ogilivie says the fact this "boots on the ground" canvassing is being conducted by volunteers says a lot about the industry's dedication to a better tomorrow.
"We have some very high caliber folks in this industry and they've shown that through their tireless actions, commitment and dedication," he says.
Working in teams of three, regional captains are recruiting "lieutenants" to assist in the daunting task of identifying and reaching out to small producers, many of which operate in rural or remote parts of the country.
Many of these producers are not members of state or national organizations, a factor that makes locating them somewhat difficult. Others may operate a single plant or just produce units for a solitary use like home foundations. By some estimates, there could be as many as 100 minor manufacturers servicing their local markets.
One such operation is Swisher Concrete Products of Clearfield, PA. Jeannine Swisher says her single block plant supplies gray and architectural CMU for use in commercial projects like schools, hospitals and Penn State University. Her operation has served central Pennsylvania since 1990.
"I support the CMU checkoff because of what I see and experience on a daily basis," says Swisher. "In my area, we have lost three block plants in the last seven years. How I have survived versus them I can't answer."
Swisher became aware of the CMU Checkoff through her state organization, the Pennsylvania Concrete Masonry Association. "I'm very concerned [about market conditions] and when I found out about the Orlando session from Jan Boyer, I bought a spur of the moment plane ticket and came down," Swisher says.
The block producer hopes other small Region 1 companies will join her in supporting the campaign. "This checkoff program seems to be the most economical and fast-tracked way to get our products researched, advocated for and brought in front of the people who may not be choosing masonry or may not know the benefits of choosing masonry."
You can help the regional captains by indicating your support for the program with a written testimonial. Just fill out this short form here on the site.