In September of 1980, Don Manger, the newly elected Washington chapter director of the Associated Builders and Contractors, attended a planning conference for the national, non-union trade group.
Throughout the debates and exchanges at that conference, he remembers, there was a "high level of frustration" that ABC wasn't meeting one of the primary obligations to its members: training more craftsmen.
The feeling, he recalls, was that ABC's educational programs "had not kept pace with its market share."
So, in his first major project as executive director, Manger began collecting the ideas and the resources to shore up ABC's position in the area's construction industry. Next week marks the official launching of CraftMasters Training Inc., a small but unusual program to provide better and accelerated training to trade apprentices and prospective construction workers.
Located in the former Landover Hills Elementary School, CraftMasters Training is a private, nonprofit vocational school that will try to attract new people to the construction industry by increasing the availability and the quality of training and, in some cases, by speeding up the training process, he said.
One program, which began in September, is designed to accelerate the process by which construction workers can become journeymen. Full-time construction workers who already have apprenticeship status take classes two nights a week in one of six areas -- electricity, bricklaying, heating and ventilation, sheet metal, plumbing and carpentry. Although they will study for the same number of hours, students receive their journeyman status in four years, one year less than in most programs.
The other program, which will be in full swing by April, will be designed to give students with little or no experience in a trade the essential skills needed to get a job and to prepare them for the apprenticeship program. The school is preparing full-time curriculums in several areas, and has received approval from the Maryland Department of Education for its four-month bricklaying course.
In this program, Manger said, CraftMasters is "selling something completely different" by recruiting people who have no prior experience in the construction trades. The construction industry has drawn its new members primarily from the families of other construction workers, he noted.
Manger said his program should be able to attract students from public educational institutions that do not have the facilities or instructors to specialize in construction trades.
He added that proprietary vocational schools have not specialized in construction because unions traditionally have controlled access to the trades through their apprenticeship programs. That situation has changed in Washington, he said, and CraftMasters Training has enrolled some union workers.
Financing for the school has come from 115 area firms, including major support from 14 large area construction companies. The school has had little problems finding funds because of its nonprofit status, Manger said.
Currently, enrollment in the school's nightly apprenticeship program is 300. Manger expects this to grow by 35 percent by September with the opening of more programs.
Rockville-based Hospitality Concepts Inc., diversifying an already eclectic mix of Mexican restaurants and a French bakery, has acquired Marino's Corp., a local chain of pizza shops, for an undisclosed price.
Hospitality Concepts has acquired all eight of the 27-year-old Marino's pizza shops in Washington, Maryland and Virginia. The firm currently owns two Cantina Mexicanos restaurants in Washington and Montgomery County, Cafe Parisienne and La Parisienne Bakery, a wholesale French bakery.
The company said it has plans for "dramatic expansion" of the Marino's chain in the coming year.