The Mechanical Contractors Association of America MCAA welcomes Tom Stone as its new president at the annual convention in Orlando, Fla., this month. Stone has a deep foundation in the plumbing and HVAC industry as he is President and Owner of Braconier Plumbing & Heating Co., Inc., a commercial plumbing and HVAC contractor serving the Denver, Colo., region.
Stone joined Braconier in 1992 as an estimator/project manager, becoming a full-time project manager in 1995. He transitioned into the company’s leadership in 1997 as vice president, and he took over as the company’s president in 2005, bringing his own unique brand of leadership that focuses on both goals and personal development.Stone began his career as a Special Journeyman Pipefitter and has seen first-hand how education and determination can pay off.
Seeking ways to ensure continued success, Tom got involved with the MCA of Colorado and its NCPWB chapter, and has served as the president of both organizations. He is also a member of the Pipefitters Local 208 JATC Committee, a role he has had since 2002.
His first exposure to MCAA came in the form of attending several educational programs, including MCAA’s Advanced Leadership Institute. This was shortly followed by service on the Advanced Leadership Institute Committee and the OPUS (Online Piping & Usage Specification) Task Force. Stone joined MCAA’s Board of Directors in 2007 and has served on the MCAA Education Committee since 2010.
Here is Tom Stone in his own words:
How has your career helped you prepare for a position such as MCAA president?
My father, Al Stone, was very involved in MCAA and always spoke of the benefits of being involved in your local and national MCA. The first MCAA program I attended in 1995 was Class 18 of our widely acclaimed Institute for Project Management—that just graduated its 62nd class. I was amazed at how much I was able to learn in a two-week program. I also developed some lifelong friendships with some of my classmates; two of them are current MCAA National Board members. I went on to attend many more classes and conferences. It was clear to me that there was great value to me professionally and personally in being active in MCAA.
What would be one of your top initiatives as president?
MCAA has continued to improve year after year. If I had to pick one item it would be to build and strengthen even further our partnership with the United Association. It is vital that we maintain and build on our MCAA/UA strategic planning efforts. This is critical to our mutual success going forward.
What do you feel are some of the biggest issues facing contractors today?
Phase II of pension reform is certainly a huge issue and we are still heavily involved in trying to secure passage of on Capitol Hill. MCAA and our labor partners at the United Association have been leading the effort to get this much-needed legislation enacted.
The demographics of our industry are also a major concern. There are many more skilled craftspeople retiring than there are entering our joint apprenticeship programs. We are working with the United Association and our members to increase the number of apprentices. They are our key to a strong workforce for the future.
MCAA has always been a leader in contractor education and training. What are some key programs offered?
We have a lot of efforts underway, but certainly a top item is our Construction Technology Initiative. Technology is evolving at a lightning pace, and keeping our contractors ahead of the change curve is one of the most important things we can do. We have joined forces with two very knowledgeable partners—James Benham and BuiltWorlds—and we’ll be hoping to minimize our members’ the risk and maximize the return on their investment in new technologies through research, information and educational programs, including our annual Construction Technology Conference, June 6-7 in Indianapolis.
Many great leaders have preceded you in this position. How would you like to be viewed?
I would like to be remembered as a president who was passionate about the value of MCAA. Once a member begins taking advantage of the vast array of educational opportunities our association has to offer, you typically don’t have to worry about encouraging them again because they instantly see the value of MCAA. They realize that you just cannot get a better ROI than participating in MCAA!
Can you address the importance of attracting young, skilled tradespeople to the trades as a viable career path?
MCAA strongly supports the efforts of General President Bill Hite and the United Association to recruit and train the workforce we’ll need for the future. And they’re doing a great job! At MCAA we’re also working hard to attract the best talent to our management ranks. MCAA now has 53 student chapters at universities across North America, and to further address this need we declared 2015 to be The Year of the Intern, quadrupling to 350 the number of interns hired last year by our members. We’re continuing this initiative in 2016, and will continue to provide our members with generous cash grants from our Foundation for interns hired by them.
What are some of your hobbies? What do you like to do while you are away from the office?
I love to golf and ride my road bike. I also love to travel, especially to new places, which in my role as MCAA president I will be afforded the opportunity to do on a regular basis.
The last time you said, “Today is a great day,” you were doing what?
Playing the Ocean Course on Kiawah with my fellow Executive Committee members. The one thing I value most are the many friendships that I have made as a result of my involvement with MCAA. While my business and I have received many benefits from all of the educational offerings at MCAA, it is the friendships that I will always treasure.