As a third-generation block producer, I’ve seen firsthand the decline so many of us have experienced. In Iowa alone, we went from 30 plants to just a handful today. This is why I am a staunch supporter of the CMU Checkoff.
There’s no shortage of conversation about the CMU Checkoff both from supporters and those who still have questions. As I listen to the AIMS group, I hear a few things, including concerns about government overreach and the escrow requirement. But I also hear something we all agree on: we are in desperate need of a significant injection of resources to promote concrete masonry. We all value the work that is being done by our state and national associations through their voluntary programs, but we need more to lift and leverage that work.
Here’s the thing. Our CMU Checkoff is the work of countless producers like you and me who have researched different checkoff programs and scenarios for many years. In fact, there is so much we can learn from the dozens of federal checkoffs out there, but the one that has directly impacted us in all the wrong ways is the softwood lumber checkoff. When their checkoff was being formed, they also had a vocal minority who were trying to pitch alternative solutions. But then the majority of producers voted yes. And in less than 10 years, that checkoff helped generate an additional $2.4 billion in revenue – with a large part of it spent in taking away our market share. In fact, recently an overwhelming majority of softwood lumber producers voted yes to keeping their checkoff.
Let’s set things straight on a couple of things. Government overreach – no. Every one of the dozens of federal checkoff programs faced this question as the program went up for a vote. And the answer is always the same. At the end of the day, the DOC is there to ensure that we have equal representation regardless of company size or location and that our dollars are invested in compliance with our Act & Order. And only producers will make funding decisions—not the government or anyone else. Product expansion – no. The CMU checkoff only includes block. And nothing else. Period. Expanding into any other products will require a new Order and a new referendum.
We’ve spent over 10 years getting to ourselves to this point—the same 10 years where we continued to see a freefall in demand for block. Don’t let this vocal minority put the brakes on what so many of us have said we desperately need or throw an 11th-hour solution at the wall. Imagine what the next decade looks like when we’ve put our checkoff dollars in the kinds of long-term, game-changing programs that will turn our industry around. Like promoting concrete masonry to architects and engineers. Or funding participation in codes and standards committees. Or helping build a pipeline of the next generation of producers, laborers and customers.
Vote yes for the CMU Checkoff—and if you haven’t already done it, be sure to send in your completed and signed registration form.
King's Material Inc.