Equipping Better Building

A visit with 2019 National Concrete Masonry Association Chairman Darryl Winegar

Darryl Winegar

Favorable residential and commercial market trends that framed National Concrete Masonry Association 100-year anniversary observances last year are helping members and staff charge into the group’s second century.

“We have seen a lot of opportunities for a number of years and are confident construction activity will continue moving forward,” observes 2019 NCMA Chairman Darryl Winegar, vice president of Midwest Block & Brick, Jefferson City, Mo. “There are lots of projects, but lots of competition, and owners have the ability to construct with durable materials—or ones that may not be as resilient.”

His chairman’s term will be defined by response to market development, government affairs and member engagement milestones that made 2018 a year for the NCMA ages. A robust ICON-EXPO 2018: Machinery & Equipment Show in Indianapolis marked the return of a triennial iron-heavy gathering, complete with four production machine-anchored exhibits, and set the stage for a resoundingly upbeat 100-year Anniversary Gala Celebration during Midyear Meeting activities in Chicago. Two months later, an alignment of stars above Washington, D.C. saw the Concrete Masonry Products Research, Education and Promotion Act signed into law as part of larger federal program reauthorization. The Act reflects nearly 10 years of concrete masonry interests working the trenches in congressional districts coast to coast and up to Capitol Hill. It authorizes the U.S. Department of Commerce to facilitate a concrete block and brick producer referendum on a national commodity checkoff program.

With an eye to a late-2019 or early-2020 vote, work through Commerce Department channels is progressing under an independent task force chaired by Florida-based Cemex USA veteran Major Ogilvie, who has championed the CMU Checkoff since 2010. “The Checkoff Campaign is being led by one of the most knowledgeable and trustworthy individuals in the industry,” affirms Winegar. “A successful referendum could provide badly needed funding for producers, contractors and allies to support worthy research and deliver the message of masonry benefits, value and performance.”

“I think the biggest role our board can offer in regards to CMU Checkoff is education,” he adds. “We need producers across the country to understand what it is, what it does, and how it is funded in order to get the best outcome on a referendum.”

In a preliminary CMU Checkoff outline, campaign officials present a sample scenario: Collection of one cent per block during a year with sales of 1 billion gray and architectural concrete masonry units would yield $10 million to fund research, education and promotion endeavors amid an ever-changing landscape of consumer and design professional perceptions, competing materials, and alternatives to masonry building methods. Actual per-block collection levels, Checkoff fund allocation, and all administrative functions would be conducted under a Commerce Department-supervised board reflecting a broad geographic and producer cross section.


Prior to the Concrete Masonry Products Research, Education and Promotion Act reaching President Trump’s desk, NCMA embraced challenges requiring a new approach to market development, technical support and content delivery—with or without the tandem activities guided by an independent CMU Checkoff board. The association set a 2019 convention-timed launch of a brand identity and website—the most sweeping such measures in decades. A new letters-only logo directly identifies the association, while its safety orange color says construction. An “Equipping Better Building” tagline speaks to concrete masonry units’ broad, positive impact on buildings, structures, and their users. It also communicates NCMA’s mission in equipping industry professionals with technical resources, education and advocacy.

“It is always a challenge to keep things fresh and exciting with any industry association, let alone one that just observed a centennial celebration,” notes Winegar. “Our partners on website development did a good job displaying the information that makes bold and simple statements and allows for much easier navigation than the former site. The branding alone appeals to multi-generational users and hopefully will continue to be used as the asset it is intended to be. We will keep working hard to provide the education and materials needed to have a safe and strong built world.”

Branding and website development efforts were overseen by one of the most engaged elements of membership: the NCMA Young Professionals Group, a collection of some of the industry’s brightest and most promising up-and-coming business leaders. YPG participants pursued a brand identity, graphics and online concept allowing the association to communicate better with all audiences, from building and hardscape unit or veneer producers to sales personnel, design professionals and their clients.

“The Young Professionals Group continues to grow and bring a tremendous amount of talent from our sideline and put it into play,” says Winegar, who credits 2018 NCMA Chairman Kent Waide with helping usher YPG and CMU Checkoff through critical phases. “I hope to see the group continue to bring positive energy and messaging, especially with the ongoing challenge of educating the built world about concrete masonry, segmental retaining wall and paver usage.”

“Given some of the natural disasters of recent years, benefits of unit masonry in regards to optimizing sites, resiliency and performance have to get the attention of the code writing community and compel authorities to keep a stronger building code in place,” he adds. “If building codes continue to slide backwards, then unfortunately there could be human lives and tremendous property damage on the line.”



Home page

Carefully devised over the previous year by an experienced team of writers, designers and developers—along with input from the NCMA Young Professionals Group—the new www.ncma.org site features a sleek, modern look. With simple layouts and straightforward mapping, it provides an intuitive user experience through a smart, powerful backend, including optimized, quick search bars and readily navigable library of technical documents and other resources.

Resiliency continues to gain prominence among private and public construction interests—to the benefit of the entire concrete business. Whether it’s promoting resiliency, fire safety or other top of mind attributes surrounding concrete masonry and cast-in-place or precast concrete assemblies, Winegar notes, “I would like to keep building bridges between all the industry associations that overlap. We have more in common than less, and continuing to leverage our message and dollars together makes a lot of sense to me. I look forward to keeping this initiative alive as chairman.”

Winegar rose to his current NCMA and Midwest Block & Brick posts after extensive front line duty. “I worked at a block plant through undergraduate and graduate years,” he recalls. ”The combination of hands on experience and mentoring by the people that work inside our plants and yards has given me an enormous foundation and respect for this part of our business. I have spent most of my adult life on a jobsite or in a plant and am continually invigorated by the tangible benefits and hard working people that make durable and resilient products.”

“I admire the masons, SRW/paver installers and distributors that have the chance to place and sell products that perform better than alternatives and can withstand whatever engineering goals are set,” he tells Concrete Products. “Concrete masonry building and hardscape units still provide the absolute best bang for your buck in regards to installed cost and performance in my mind. I have had the pleasure to work for and with some of the greatest leaders this industry has known, and look forward to taking my turn at the wheel with a strong desire to make them proud.”

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PHOTO: Missouri Department of Mental Health

Midwest Block & Brick Ruby Concrete Co. RCP Block & Brick Inc.
Jefferson City, Missouri Madisonville, Kentucky Lemon Grove, California


Sustaining a tradition forged in grand hotel ballrooms of the past, NCMA 100-Year Gala attendees turned to center stage and smiled. Among many highlights of the early-August 2018 gathering on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile was a parade of past NCMA Chairmen.
PHOTOS: NCMA (panorama); Concrete Products (chairmen)