Troy W. Maschmeyer, Jr., CEO and President of Maschmeyer Concrete, addressed the industry during February’s CMU Checkoff session in Orlando.
“Wood's not going away so if you don't want to see your market share decline then whatever you think about this, whether it's perfect or not, it's a lot better than the alternative,” he says.
Maschmeyer is a past chair of the Florida Concrete and Products Association (FC&PA) and the inaugural chair of the Florida Concrete Masonry Education Council (FCMEC) which was set up shortly after the state adopted a voluntary checkoff program.
During his talk, he described how and why Florida sought to bring producers together.
“Our checkoff program was passed in 2014 but I want to go back because it really had roots before that,” he says. “Back in the late 90s, some of the industry leaders had a vision to promote masonry and increase market share in Florida.”
Maschmeyer says back then, Bob Sitter, the former head of the FC&PA, conducted extensive market research and sought funds to begin a statewide promotion of concrete masonry.
“Bob had an idea, but it was going to be expensive. He wanted the industry to spend about a million and a quarter a year to promote block in the state.”
Eventually, producers agreed to fund a smaller version of the campaign. “South Florida was pretty much a 100-percent masonry. But as you got up to Orlando and north, it decreased."
"Jacksonville had a single digit market share for concrete masonry. Sitter targeted Jacksonville and within three to four years, it went from single digits to a 30-percent market share for masonry. It's a true story, those are the facts,” says Maschmeyer.
Maschmeyer also told those gathered that the early promotional efforts of Florida producers had other measurable results. “As it went statewide, market share increased from what was the high 50s to some 70-percent. And they did an ROI and it was like 268-percent return. So, it was successful.”
But when the 2009 construction slowdown made its way into Florida, those big gains were washed away.
“The consolidation and the buyouts started in Florida, we lost some of that leadership, the Great Recession hit and the money stopped flowing,” he told the audience. “It's interesting, that as we started measuring market share again, today in Jacksonville guess what? Back to single digits. So, the point of that story is promotion works but you have to keep doing it.”
Maschmeyer also noted that during the economic crunch, concrete was off some 70-percent in the state from its 2005-2006 peak. “But block went down 90-percent,” he says. “We started to think what can we do to help ourselves and bring back market share.”
As economic conditions began to improve, Florida block producers sought a statewide mandatory checkoff. “We went to the state legislature, proposed a bill, but we couldn't get it out of committee,” he says.
After some effort, a voluntary version of the checkoff bill made its way to the desk of Florida Governor Rick Scott. “It's voluntary and we have 70-some percent of the producers in the state paying,” Maschmeyer notes.
One of the recent successes under the state’s Block Strong campaign was a major change to the way homes are built in Florida.
“In a lot of the homes in central Florida the first floor are masonry, the second floor are wood,” he says. “Through the work of our Block Strong program, one of the major national builders has redesigned all their homes in central Florida to build the second floor out of masonry. The feeling is once they do that, it'll be a domino effect that a lot of the other national builders will go with it.”
Maschmeyer hopes passage of a national checkoff will help Florida gain ground in construction of multi-family developments.
“I think you can see from our experience in Florida it [promotion] works. But if you don't continue, you're going to go back to where you were. There's a lot of great people behind it [the national checkoff] and hopefully it'll be a huge success. So, I really encourage everyone to support this effort.”