What is the CFA?
The mission of the Concrete Foundations Association (CFA) is to support the cast-in-place contractor as the voice and recognized authority for the residential concrete industry. The CFA has members in 26 states and Canada. Members consist primarily of foundation contractors with firm sizes ranging from six to over 100 employees. Member firms construct anywhere from twelve to 1,200 basements annually.
The CFA publishes a variety of information to keep its members abreast of important developments in the industry and to inform them of progress on board activities and committees.
Originally formed as the Poured Concrete Wall Contractors of America, Inc. (PCWCA), the Concrete Foundations Association (CFA) was formed in 1975 to serve the interests of poured wall contractors. The idea for the organization can be traced to a dinner meeting, held December 1974 in Lansing, Michigan, with Bob Sawyer, Larry Clark, and Charlie Jones. As they discussed ways to help build the industry and their markets, they came up with the idea to form an association for poured wall contractors. With much enthusiasm, these leaders agreed to hold the first poured wall contractor conference in Chicago, Ill. to formulate guidelines for the organization.
On January 16, 1975, Sawyer, Clark and Jones met with Dennis Anderson, Jack Boarman, Chilton Hedrick, Earl Wildenberg, Owen Wright and attorney Samuel Goldman. After defining a poured wall contractor as “one who owned a set of residential commercial forms,” the group estimated their target audience at about 3,000 wall contractors in the U.S. and the “National Poured Wall Association” was officially established on February 10th of that year.
The efforts of these early pioneers were rewarded as they managed to quickly increase the membership of the new association. In fact, by the second gathering — which was held in March 24, 1975 in Kansas City and served as the first general membership meeting — 20 contractors were in attendance. Within three years, the PCWCA had grown to almost 50 members.
As membership grew and the Association found its niche and role in the industry, the name changes continued. In 1975, the Association’s name was changed to the “Poured Concrete Wall Contractors of American, Inc.” (PCWCA). In 1990, the name was again changed to the Concrete Foundations Association to reflect its growing membership which included suppliers, manufacturers, and even a few design professional involved in the foundation industry. Later, the name was expanded to include the words “of North America” to reflect the inclusion of Canadian members.
The Association’s original bylaws mandated the election of five officers and Clark, a contractor from Lansing, Michigan, became the first president and Bob Sawyer served as the first Executive Director (1975 -1980). A variety of directors continued to shape the Association and serve the membership including publisher, Roger Nielsen (1986-1993). In 1993, Ed Sauter was selected to bring his experience as a registered architect to the leadership of the organization. Ed established a new era for the Association adding a magazine, an annual convention and beginning to grow staff support for the Association through his management firm. Jim Baty, also an architect, joined the staff in 2001 as Technical Director adding a career-long emphasis on thermal design efficiency and insulated concrete sandwich walls.
The CFA Today
Today, the CFA leads the cast-in-place concrete industry with a Board consisting of 20 individuals from diverse geographies and industries as well as with a wide range of experience. Together with a management firm providing staff that includes the Executive Director and professional consultants, the Association continues to develop an increasing array of programs and resources for the membership.
Executive Director, Jim Baty, took over for Sauter in January of 2015 as the management firm began transitions. Sauter continues to serve the Association with a focus on certification, one of the newest programs developed by the membership. You can meet and contact the entire management team for the CFA here.
One of the essential ingredients of CFA is the forum that it provides for contractors to exchange ideas and information both through meetings and newsletter articles. With a diverse membership spread throughout the United States and Canada, this network permits individuals with needs and interests to seek advice and professional experience. The Association hosts two physical or formal meetings each year, typically gathering over 250 people. These meetings provide a friendly atmosphere where large and small companies can share on an even greater level and be introduced to an ever-increasing array of products, equipment and technology that is evolving to meet the demands of this industry. Each winter, a meeting is held in conjunction with World of Concrete where the Association is a 40 year co-sponsor. Each summer, CFA Convention is held in a variety of locations spanning from resorts offering a great combination of business education and family vacation to regional business centers concentrating the attendance of membership. In each location, family continues to be emphasized due to the legacy of the founders for the Association and to honor the type of business that is evident throughout the industry.
Mechanization and technology have improved the industry from the inception of the CFA. Boom trucks, concrete pumps, and conveyors have reduced much of the back-breaking work accompanied with the construction of concrete foundations. Technology in the form of CAD and robotic layout instruments have greatly improved productivity and accuracy in the layout and construction of basements. The association members are often the “early innovators” in the adoption of new ideas, equipment, and technology.
Beyond serving as an informational and networking tool for members, CFA is an influential organization within the construction industry. Representing the interests of its members and the industry on several code and regulatory bodies, several CFA members have been active participants in writing codes and standards in the industry, including ACI 332, the residential concrete code (most recently chaired by Executive Director Baty) and ACI 306, the guide to cold weather concreting. These influential industry documents build in part from the foundational resources the CFA established through both cold weather research and structural foundation wall performance. This is in addition to a certification program recently transferred to ACI for Residential Foundation Technicians, which is also the Level I requirement for companies seeking to become CFA Certified Foundation Companies.
Programmatically, the Association offers a rich suite of opportunities for members including development kits for Employee Handbooks, Safety Manuals, Fall Protection Provisions and Management Tools. The Association has also entered into a standard market program called CFA Core360 to provide a dedicated industry-focused insurance option through the powerhouse broker, Arthur J. Gallagher.