The phrase "standing room only" is a misnomer. It should be called "sitting on the floor only," as my sore tush would attest. But that's exactly where I found myself last Thursday night at the first official High Desert Contractor Association meeting in the Spring Valley Lake Country Club dining room.

With about 120 contractors, several local leaders, industry experts and a handful of local news reporters, the sizeable crowd itself served as an emphatic statement: Licensed contractors are yearning for a unified voice and the power to solve the unlicensed contractor issue and other obstacles.

While unlicensed contracting is the hot-button topic for many reasons, it certainly isn't the only concern of contractors. Spearheaded by several familiar faces - Hesperia Chamber of Commerce President Eric Schroeder, Vice-President Mark Austin and active chamber member Bob Sole, who serves as the new group's president - the new association will offer an array of benefits, features and much-appreciated solutions.

Besides local meetings with expert guest speakers, the association is expected to offer seminars on employment and contract law, safety and OHSA training and marketing and advertising.

Collectively, the association will have the group buying power to purchase numerous contractor necessities at lesser rates including media and advertising, financial services, accounting services, insurance, payroll services, legal services and more.

While most people may just think of general building contractors when they think of the word "contractor," there a many other contractor designations as identified as the California Contractors State License Board.

Other types of licensed contractors are general engineering, insulation and acoustical, boiler, hot-water, heating system fitting, framing and rough carpentry, cabinet, millwork and finish carpentry, low voltage systems, concrete, dryway, electrical, elevator, earthwork and paving, fencing, flooring and floor covering, fire protection, glazing, warm-air heating, ventilation and air-conditioning, building moving/demolition, ornamental metal, landscaping, lock and security equipment, masonry, construction zone traffic control, parking and highway improvement, painting and decorating, pipeline, and lathing and plastering.

But there's more.

There is plumbing, refrigeration, roofing, sanitation system, sheet metal, electrical sign, solar, general manufactured housing, reinforcing steel, structural steel, structural steel, swimming pool, tile, water conditioning, well drilling, and welding.

Limited specialty contractors including awnings, central vacuum, contrete-related, drilling, blasting and oil field work, elevated floors, synthetic products, hardware, locks and safes, machinery and pumps, metal products, doors, gates and activating devices, paperhanging, pile driving/pressure foundation jacking, pole installation and maintenance, prefabricated equipment, pool and spa maintenance, sand and water blasting, scaffolding, service station equipment and maintenance, siding and decking, sign installation, tree service, suspended ceilings, window coverings, wood tanks, trenching, hydroseed spraying, air and waer balancing, construction cleanup, and weatherization and energy conservation.

Yes, the time has come for the High Desert Contractors Association. As impressive as the 120-plus who attended last week's kickoff event were, this group may onto something big.

Really big.