The roots of the Mechanical Contractors Association of Kansas City (MCA-KC) can be traced back to two early trade groups.
The first, Plumbers Local 8, established in 1889 as the Association of Journeyman Plumbers, Gas Fitters, Steam Fitters, and Steam Fitter Helpers of the United States of America and Canada. The second was Pipe Fitters Local 533, founded in 1911 to represent the interests of the highly skilled workers in the Pipefitting, Refrigeration and Heating and Air Conditioning industries of the Kansas City Area.
At their founding, both already were contributing their expertise to the city’s building activities.
The earliest reference to the organization of an industry contractor group came in 1926 when the Association of Master Plumbers of Kansas City was formed. Its stated purpose was to provide:
Advancement of sanitation, encouragement of sanitary laws, and better enforcement; better improvement of plumbing appliances and plumbing work; education of the members of the craft in sanitation and all that pertains to the betterment of plumbing as well as the best method of conducting such business; education of apprentices in plumbing and the establishment of an apprenticeship system; promotion of standardization of plumbing materials; education of the public through favorable publicity; and carrying on any trade association activities deemed advisable, not in conflict with the laws of the land.
In 1953, the Association of Master Plumbers of Kansas City became the Associated Plumbing Contractors of Kansas City. The following year, the Association entered into an agreement with Plumbers Local Union No. 8 to establish a Health and Welfare Fund. Earlier, in 1952, a collective bargaining agreement with the Association was established.
The strengths of Plumbers Local No. 8 and Pipe Fitters Local No. 533 were brought under the Mechanical Contractors Association of Kansas City in 1956. The Association’s founding Director Frank Babcock, skillfully laid the groundwork for servicing the needs of both unions.
The PFAC Industry Fund was negotiated as part of the wage contract effective in 1958, but collection of five cents per hour did not start until the following year. The money was allowed to accumulate until 1960.
In 1959, an agreement was reached between MCA-KC and Local Union No. 533 to establish an Industry Development Fund.
Then in 1975, the Plumbing Industry Fund was created by agreement between Plumbers Local Union No. 8 and the Mid-America Association of Mechanical and Plumbing Contractors, previously known as the Associated Plumbing Contractors Association of Kansas City.
The following year this group merged with the Mechanical Contractors Association of Kansas City.
In 1988, MCA-KC began a new phase of development with the appointment of Herbert C. Millard as its second Executive Director. Following 18 years of continued growth, the Association appointed its third Executive Director, Robert A. Looman, in 2006.
The history of the Association is marked by the role it has played in the building of Kansas City. Some of its most recent accomplishments include: Sprint’s World Campus, Union Station Renovation, Kansas International Speedway, Sporting Kansas City Stadium, Bartle Hall, Sprint Center, Kauffman Stadium & Arrowhead Renovations, The Kansas City Power & Light District, and the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.
These all reflect quality construction by the member firms of the MCA-KC and the highly skilled union employees they hire among Plumbers Local No. 8 and Pipe Fitters Local No. 533. It is the fully qualified, dedicated union craftsmen employed to install mechanical systems that reinforce MCA-KC’s reputation for quality construction in Kansas City.
In its history, the MCA-KC has distinguished itself by having five of its members serve as the National President of the Mechanical Contractors Association of America. Henry Nottberg (1968), Don Huxtable (1976), Herbert Jacobsen (1985), Smitty Belcher (2001), and Michael Gossman (2004).
The high regard the MCAA officials’ accord to the MCA-KC is further reflected in the many appointments of its members to key national committees. Kansas City has been represented by Dan Axtell, Steve Patrick, Tim Moormeier, Robert Rimel Jr., Bill Heck, Mike Belcher, Bob Rimel, Michael Gossman, Dan Oxler, Ryck Sander, Joe Bret, Charles Brandon, Bruce Belcher, and Steve Hancock.
Throughout the Association’s history, users of MCA-KC’s services with Plumbers Local 8 and Pipe Fitters 533 have been quick to praise the strong safety record achieved by the contractors and their union workers. Users have also commended on the MCA-KC’s Substance Abuse Program, which ranks among the highest in the country.
An important chapter in the history of MCA-KC has been its excellent training programs. The knowledge gained from rigorous education and preparation has led to quality construction in Kansas City. This included a 4,000 square foot expansion of Pipe Fitters Local 533 at 9876 Hickman Mills Drive in Kansas City. This expanded training complex provides an area where 200 Apprentices can apply recently acquired knowledge in a hands-on environment.
The original Construction Training Center Building, established in 1974, allows 100 Apprentices of Plumbers Local 8 to master knowledge on the growing body of building codes, changing materials requirements, and evolving new equipment.
With the cooperation of individuals and organizations, the MCA-KC has continued to move the industry forward as it promotes professionalism in the construction trades.