Jennifer Freiland, Mr. Hellmann’s daughter and the President of Quality Block Co. made the presentation of the first award on February 24, 2018 at the Apprenticeship Graduation Dinner. Below are her comments about the award and the recipient.
The Clem Hellmann Leadership award recognizes an individual who has made significant contributions to the masonry community through leadership of, and/or involvement initiatives that have resulted in industry-wide impact and is representative of the highest level of leadership and involvement.
Tonight, I would like to present the first Clem Hellmann Leadership Award to Mike Sutter, President of Sutter Masonry.
In 1991, Mike and his wife Colleen opened Sutter Masonry. Like my father, Mike lives the “Givers gain” philosophy in both his personal and professional life. Mike’s greatest gift to the industry is the investment of his time and service to our state and national masonry associations.
Mike has been a member of the Arizona Masonry Contractors Association since 1994 and a board member since 1995. He has served as President, Vice President, Treasurer and Apprenticeship Committee Chair. In fact, he played a pivotal role in getting the apprenticeship program up and running in Arizona.
During his involvement in both of association he has chaired many committees and participated in the development and implementation of many AMCA and AMG initiatives and programs. But tonight I want to highlight a few of his more recent contributions to our industry.
As many of you know, Mike is very passionate about workforce development for the industry. In 2017, Mike’s passion for recruiting our next generation of mason led him to form a partnership with the Construction Trades Program at West-MEC’s Verrado Campus. In typical Sutter style, Mike offered to provide an experienced mason to work with students during the masonry unit only if the school was willing to increase the length of the unit from 2 weeks to 8 weeks. The school agreed. Mike Gray from Sutter Masonry along with Mike Sutter spent most of August and September of 2017 working with the 1st and 2nd year construction students. Sutter Masonry’s investment of time in that program has paid off greatly. In the October 2017 Masonry Skills, Mike’s West-MEC students swept the competition taking 9 of the 10 top spots in the high school division. Sutter Masonry also sponsored the top 3 West-MEC students and their instructor to attend the Masonry Madness Day during the World of Concrete/World of Masonry Convention in Las Vegas last month. In addition, 6 of the students applied for and were accepted into AMCA’s Central Masonry Apprenticeship Program and now have jobs waiting for them when they graduate from West-MEC in May of this year.
Over the last few years, Mike has played a pivotal role in the industry’s lobbying efforts at the state capital. His testimony during various legislative committee hearings has helped prevent various bills from going into effect that would have been detrimental for our industry. Mike’s participation in stakeholder meetings for House Bill 2114 Declaration of Independent Business Status during the 2016 legislative session led to the construction industry being carved out of the bill. Without this change, the practice of mis-classification of employees as independent contractors in the construction industry would have become even more widespread than it is today and make it more challenge for companies who comply with the state and federal regulations and laws to compete on a level playing field.
More recently, Mike has been the driving force behind the development of a new funding program which will be a “game changer” for the masonry industry throughout the entire state. When launched the program would establish Arizona Masonry Council and finally provide the financial resources to move our industry from its traditional reactive position to being a proactive industry.
Those a just a few of Mike’s contributions to our industry at the state level. Now I want to share with you a few of the contributions he has made for our industry on the national level.
Last month, Mike completed his term as Chairman of the Mason Contractors Association of America and Colleen as First Lady of the Masonry Industry. Although his term as Chairman was only two years, he served a total eight years on the MCAA Executive Committee in addition to years of service as Region G Vice President and Arizona State Chair.
During his term as Chairman, Mike and Colleen spent numerous hours away from their company in order to travel to various MCAA chapters and other masonry state associations meeting and events. This was all done at their own expense.
During his tenure as Chairman, MCAA went from a membership of 620 members to 930 members – which sets the record for the largest growth in membership in any two year period in MCAA’s history.
Under his leadership, MCAA developed a Silica Train-the-Trainer Compliance program for members. MCAA has trained over 520 trainers across the US. MCAA estimates that these trainers have since trained close to 3,000 masonry employees since the program was launched in early 2017.
Mike played an important role in deciding to bring Masonry Magazine back “in house” under MCAA after a period of 20 years. This move will allow MCAA to more effectively communicate its message and has had a significant impact on membership recruitment and many other initiatives.
As Chairman, Mike oversaw MCAA’s purchase of the Masonry Design publication which is targeted to the design community and will provide MCAA with the means to communicate the advantages and benefits of designing with masonry products and systems.
Mike also pursued the goal of securing MCAA state chairs in every state. He reached a very high number of State Chairs and as a result the participation level of the state chairs has increased significantly during his term.
Mike initiated the development of employee on-boarding videos for members in order to continue to add value for members. These videos will be safety driven and will be free to members to use to train their new employees and prepare them within a day for going onto the job-site. They will be rolled out this year.
Despite his success, he still is very grounded and humble. When he is asked what he does for a living, Mike doesn’t say he owns masonry company or that he sits on various boards and committees. He simply replies, “I’m a bricklayer.” To us here in this room and to many of our counterparts across the country, he is much more than simply “a bricklayer.” Through his active involvement, leadership and dedication to our industry he has laid the foundation for many generations of block and bricklayers to come.