Plumbing & Mechanical recently interviewed incoming Mechanical Contractors Association of America President Greg Fuller, president and owner of Indianapolis-based North Mechanical Contracting. Fuller will officially take the reins as president during the MCAA 2017 Annual Convention, held March 5-9 in San Diego.
PM: Tell us about your company.
GF: North Mechanical is a mechanical construction and service contractor serving commercial, industrial, life sciences, institutional and public sector clients. I have daily responsibility for the Indianapolis-based company’s complete line of services, quality management, construction and service approach.
PM: What about you? Tell us about your background.
GF: I received my journeyman plumber status in 1985, began my career as a superintendent and joined North Mechanical in 1991 as a Project Manager. I transitioned into the company’s leadership as Vice President and purchased the company in 1997, becoming President and Owner.
PM: How did you become involved in the MCAA?
GF: Seeking ways to ensure my company's success, I got involved in the MCA of Indiana and the group’s Indianapolis Chapter. I've served on the Boards of both organizations, as well as their labor management and finance committees. I've also served on the MCA of Indiana’s membership & bylaws and legislative committees. And, I'm chairman of the UA Local 440 Health and Welfare Trust.
My introduction to MCAA came in the form of attending the national association’s many educational programs. I now chair MCAA's Project Managers Education Committee and am an instructor at MCAA's highly popular Institute for Project Management. I joined MCAA’s Board of Directors in 2010 and joined the Executive Committee four years later.
PM: What value do you think an MCAA membership has for contractors?
GF: Our wide array of business resources (all of which are free to MCAA contractors as a benefit of membership) and educational offerings are the obvious benefits of membership. But there are many other benefits that are not so obvious. Here's an example: It was MCAA that a few years ago that convinced FASB, or the Financial Accounting Standards Board, to not issue a standard calling for the amount of a contractor's potential withdrawal liability to be shown every year on its financial statement. MCAA's advocacy on that issue benefitted every signatory contractor, whether they're a member of MCAA or not.
PM: What is MCAA’s No. 1 goal in 2017?
GF: The relationship between the MCAA and the UA is at an all-time high. We developed a great partnership during General President Hite's tenure and we plan to build on that in an exponential way with General President McManus’ terrific leadership team. We all understand that a big challenge for us as union contractors is to at least maintain, and hopefully regain, market share. The best way to accomplish that is to work with our labor partners at the UA. That’s what it will take to secure a bright future for the members of both our fine organizations.
PM: What legislative issues will MCAA be following in 2017?
GF: With regard to our now several-year effort to get Congress to enact pension reform legislation, we were very disappointed when the last Congress failed on its pledge to enact multiemployer pension reform. I'm of course talking about the option trustees would have to adopt a so-called composite pension plan. As MCAA's new president I will assure the membership that MCAA will continue the fight in 2017 in an effort to redeem that pledge in the 115th Congress.
PM: What challenges are the organization and its members facing?
GF: Enhancing competitiveness, increasing efficiency and productivity, gaining market share, staying ahead of the technology change curve, attracting talented young people into our industry, ensuring the safest jobsites possible, enhancing the leadership potential of senior management…there is certainly no shortage of challenges facing mechanical and service contractors today. MCAA's "challenge" is to do all that it can to assist our members in successfully addressing those challenges.
PM: What are you most looking forward to at this year’s annual convention?
GF: MCAA’s annual convention is the best in our industry, and I can assure you that our San Diego convention will be just as special as the MCAA conventions that preceded it! In fact, we're even going to have a big party on the USS Midway. Add to that some great speakers, like former Speaker of the House John Boehner, football great Emmitt Smith, astronauts Mark and Scott Kelly, Academy Award winner Goldie Hawn and futurist Peter Diamandis, along with a slew of terrific educational workshops and you’ve got another great MCAA convention.
PM: What will be your first order of business as MCAA president?
GF: To “get out of the office” and visit as many MCAA chapters as possible, with the goal of increasing the understanding our members have of the benefits of participating in their national association.
PM: MCAA has several major initiatives — which ones interest you the most, and which will MCAA be concentrating on most this year?
GF: They all interest me. Our long-standing Safety Excellence, Career Development and National Education initiatives are as important to our members as ever. Our newer Technology Initiative gains in importance every day as technology continues to evolve at lightning pace. Keeping our members ahead of the technology change curve is one of the most important things our association can do.
PM: What is MCAA doing to help shrink the skills gap and draw fresh faces to this industry?
GF: Here is just a sampling of what is being done: Our Career Development Initiative is a full-blown and multi-pronged effort to bring the brightest college students into our industry. As of our annual convention, we will have 53 student chapters at colleges and universities across the country. Our Foundation provides cash grants to our members who hire interns. We have Institutes for Project Management and Advanced Leadership. In partnership with the United Association, and through the International Training Fund, UA local unions are being equipped with educational resources for developing the skills of their apprentices and journeypersons.
PM: If you could give one piece of advice to your contractor members, what would it be?
GF: When I’m asked if I can quantify the value of involvement in MCAA, I answer this way: The return I and my company have realized on our MCAA dues investment is better than pretty much any other investment I’ve made. My advice to MCAA's members is that they get involved in their national association, and take advantage of its offerings and resources. If they do they will no doubt respond to that question in the same way.
PM: A year from now, what do you hope you can look back and say you accomplished as MCAA president?
GF: If I can help to increase the awareness among MCAA's membership of the many benefits, both professionally and personally, of being involved in and taking advantage of their national association, I will feel that I have had a successful year as MCAA's president.