I recently attended the meeting of a committee created by MCABC and ECABC – mechanical and electrical contractors. Most of you will know of the Risky Clauses project, a shared effort of the two associations to collect, review and provide legal interpretations of contracts to help our trades’ contractors administer their contract documents.
This committee takes its work seriously. Seasoned veterans and mid-career managers bring their experience to the table to examine toxic contracts and, with the help of an expert lawyer, identify clauses that put subcontractors at risk. These dissected contracts are then shared with MCABC’s and ECABC’s respective members.
The committee is a kind of contracts CSI/SWAT team, whose job it is to make the construction playing field safer. While the commitment required of committee members isn’t extensive, like most assignments, it takes some time to attend and contribute.
Committee members were asked how the risky clauses information is delivered to the people in their company who need to know. The general answer was, ‘The same way we get them to learn other things about this construction industry – through a commitment to participate in the trade association.”
This admission led to one member commenting about how much value he had received from participating in his trade association. He remarked that while affiliation with the mixed associations such as VRCA and BCCA was helpful, the trade association added most value to him personally and to his company, aiding both to become the successes they are today. It was pretty clear the underlying message was that members of trade associations will get back many-fold what they give, and what they give is demonstrated by the level of commitment each member or member representative is willing to make.
The irony here is this very act of members giving their time and making this commitment becomes that ‘thing’ of value for which the association charges dues.
Consider the flip side of this equation. If you don’t make a commitment and contribute something to your association, no value will exist and there will be no reason to join and pay dues. A trade association can have all kinds of services and products to entice a company’s owners to join, but the essential ingredients to a successful association are the members themselves.
It has been interesting to observe over the years that there are two main reasons why companies resigned from MCABC: First –something has or has not happened that upsets the owner and they no longer wish to associate. This reason seldom gets voiced out loud. Which brings me to the second reason which is stated: “It’s too expensive and I no longer see the value in paying $X to belong.” In my experience, the member offering this explanation is often a company that has participated very little and never made the commitment to add any value.
MCABC recently had a board member speak up on this very thing – the relationship between value and commitment. He introduced a resolution to adopt a policy that would require all board members, both new and experienced, to sign a Board of Directors Covenant to make that commitment public and in so doing, add much appreciated and needed value to the organization. All MCABC Directors will sign this covenant on June 12 and reaffirm their commitment.
Why wouldn’t you want to join a mechanical contractors association with commitment and purpose?