Bring back the Pride: 12 Ways to Bring Pride Back into Masonry

I hear it every day.  “We can’t find good masons.”  Or “There’s not enough labor out there.” The problem is two-fold, in my opinion.

  1. We can’t find people who want to work in masonry.

  2. We aren’t training enough people to fill the gap of those who are starting to retire.

 I’m the proud daughter of a masonry contractor.  My dad called himself an “artistic manipulator of the burnt clay product.” He started as a laborer for a company, went through an apprenticeship, was a mason, became a foreman, moved into estimating…. All with the same company.  When that company started to slow down, he and my mom started their own company.  He had pride in what he did. And I’m proud of the work he has done over the years and the work our company helps masons to do now.

I think this is something we are really missing out on.  We need to bring back the pride

What masons do is nothing less than an art.  Think about being an electrician or a plumber or a framer.  Sure, they’re also proud professions that are absolutely necessary. But what masons do is beautiful and lasting.  It’s something you can be proud of for generations to come.

Austin by Ellsworth Kelly.JPG

How can you help bring back the pride to masonry?

Here’s a 12 ideas to get you started.

  1. Make a big deal out of the projects your crews are on.  Tell them about it.  They like to know details like how many brick are on it, what it will be, etc.  Some companies have hats or shirts made for really big projects to give to their guys.  Something small like that can go a long way.  You’ll find the guys are proud to be a part of something like this.

  2. Take part in masonry competitions throughout the country.  These are a chance for the best masons to show just how great they are.  These guys (and hopefully one day gals) are beasts- the amount of brick they can lay is nothing short of amazing.  Encouraging and supporting your guys to train and then participate in these can be a great way to show that this is a great trade to be in. Check out the 2019 SPEC MIX BRICKLAYER 500® to learn more.

  3. We build cool stuff but some of them may not ever get to see the finished project.  Consider doing a company newsletter, whether paper or digitally.  Or maybe do a Facebook page where you can share pictures and they can too.  The younger generations live on this kind of stuff.  Keeping your website up to date is important too.

  4. Make new hires feel welcome by introducing them to the team they’re working with.  Your crew should be a team.  This means they know and help each other out.  They watch out for the new guy and help them, showing them the ins and outs of both the company and project they’re starting on. You’ll find their productivity will go up substantially if you’ll do this.  And, really, how hard would it be to introduce them at your weekly toolbox talk and pair them up with someone?  This will give your current employees something to be proud of doing as well.

  5. Train new hires appropriately on what expectations are, what benefits they have access to, and, most importantly, safety.  It takes time to do this, but you’ll save a lot of headaches by doing so and they’ll know your company culture and be better acclimated to it this way.  Spending time to do so shows you care about them as individuals.  Happy employees = productive employees most of the time.

  6. Have a company party yearly.  This doesn’t have to be anything fancy but it’s a way for everyone to get together and see each other.  Maybe do a slide show so their family can see the projects they’ve been on over the past year.  Think of how proud your kids are when they show you all of the projects they’ve worked on for open house at school.  It’s the same concept.

  7. Advance from within your company when you can.  Provide a career path that they can easily see.  Some of the best superintendents, project managers, and estimators were labors and masons first.  People want to be proud to grow up and advance within a company. 

  8. Recruit from high schools by creating relationships with counselors.  We know that everyone isn’t going to college and doesn’t need to.  Providing information on a career path in masonry and showing off the awesome projects they could work on, can help with recruiting. Check out the Top 10 Reasons to Join the Masonry Team booklet by MCAA. It’s available to MCAA members for free so be sure to order yourself some for your next recruiting efforts.

  9. Communicate effectively- they want to know what’s in the pipeline and where they may be going next.  Daily meetings may be time-consuming but a quick 5-10 meeting to tell the crew what their goals are might make the difference between them making production or not. Also, get some excitement going about upcoming work.  Also, communicate any changes effectively- ex: safety, change in address, policies, holidays, etc.

  10. Celebrate victories- whether it be 100,000 hours injury free, topping out a wall, landing a big project, receiving a new piece of equipment, or even personal victories. 

  11. Provide your crews with good equipment and products - If you keep giving them stuff that breaks down or doesn’t work well, it will not only slow your project down but they’ll also realize it’s not worth taking care of.  And so the cycle continues.  Providing good equipment and then training and requiring them to maintain it well is a way to instill pride (and responsibility) in some of the younger generations.

  12. Consider a yearbook- whether digital or paper- that you put pictures of all of the projects completed in the last year that you can share with your teams.  You can be sure they’ll be proud of this.

Camden Conte’ - M2 and P Series Hydro Mobile Mast Climbers

Camden Conte’ - M2 and P Series Hydro Mobile Mast Climbers

That’s a lot of ideas.  Don’t be overwhelmed. Start small.  You’re probably already doing some of these so why not just make sure everyone in the company is aware? If you’re not doing any of these, I challenge you to pick 1 or 2 that you can quickly implement for your teams.  Do your part to bring back the pride in masonry.  Whether you’re a Project Manager, a laborer, Superintendent, truck driver, or the payroll clerk, you have a lot to be proud of in your company!

Post by:  Elizabeth "Liz" Graves, Sales Manager at Spec Rents, LLC.  Contact Liz at

CTMCA Golden Trowel Entries Due 4-20-18

We are less than a month out from the 2018 Central Texas Mason Contractors Association (CTMCA) Golden Trowel Entires being due.  They're due electronically by April 20, 2018!

Don’t miss out on this great opportunity to:

  • Promote the use of masonry
  • Promote your company
  • Show appreciation to architects for designing with masonry
  • Show appreciation to your team for the great work you do
  • Show appreciation to your General Contractor team for partnering with you on your projects

What do you need to do?  

  1. Download the rules and read them
  2. Download the entry form
  3. Take photos
  4. Submit photos and entry forms electronically
  5. Download this flyer and send to your friends or share this blog post with them!
  6. Attend the 2018 Golden Trowel Banquet on June 22 at The Archer Hotel in Austin, TX to celebrate masonry!

For help or assistance, contact either Liz Graves at or Katherine Teel at  We are happy to schedule a time to meet with you to help complete your submissions with your team!

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Masonry Madness 2018

Today's the day-

Masonry Madness 2018.


2018 Spec Mix Bricklayer 500®

The lineup includes:

  • MCAA's Masonry Skills Challege
    • Showcasing masonry apprentices from across the country
  • Spec Mix's Toughest Tender®
    • The world's toughest tenders compete to see who can set up their Spec Mix Bricklayer 500 workstation, with a chance to take home $2,500 cash and prizes.
  • MCAA's Fastest Trowel on the Block
    • Each contestant's goal is to complete as much of a 30 foot long wall as possible, using 8"x8"x16" CMU and the provided mortar in a twenty-minute heat.
  • Spec Mix Bricklayer 500®
    • Each team consists of a mason and mason tender building a 26 foot 8 inch, double wythe brick wall. The most bricks laid in one hour and counted under the quality rules wins the event, winning over $100,0
    • You can watch the Spec Mix Bricklayer 500® World Championship through the 2018 Live Webcast if you aren't lucky enough to be watching it in person at the World of Masonry in Las Vegas today.

Hydro Mobile is one of the many proud sponsors of the Spec Mix Bricklayer 500®.

Check out those beautiful brand new Hydro Mobile M2s.... not to mention the shiny red Ford!

Check out those beautiful brand new Hydro Mobile M2s.... not to mention the shiny red Ford!


From Texas we have two representatives in the Spec Mix Bricklayer 500®

North Texas:  Mason – Mario Landeros - 554 Brick, Tender – Cristobal Anguiana, from Artisan Masonry – Royce City, TX

South Texas:  Mason - David Chavez - 691 Brick, Tender - Miguel Contreras, from Ranch Masonry, Houston, Texas.

Good Luck to all of today's contestants.  And to all of the spectators, enjoy a great display of the art of Masonry!!!

Post by:  Elizabeth "Liz" Graves, Sales Manager at Spec Rents, LLC.  Contact Liz at


10 Ways to Show You're Thankful for Your Team

If you're like most employers, you're thankful for your team members.  Whether it's your VP of Operations, your mason tenders/laborers, or your bookkeeper, you're probably thankful for everything they do to keep things going.  As we near Thanksgiving, the holiday where we share what we're thankful for, here's 10 ways you can show you're thankful for your team:

10 Ways to Show You're Thankful for Your Team

1.       Put safety first always.  Providing a good safety program may go unnoticed but if you remind them that you're keeping them safe so they can go home every day to those who love them, it can go a long way.  

2.       Write a thank you or card to their family.  Brag on them and say thanks for sharing them with you.  There's may hours of overtime throughout the year in construction.  Let them know you appreciate the sacrifices they sometimes make for the jobs to get built on time.

3.       Provide good equipment.  I know, I know.  You're thinking, "but they tear it up!"  What if you said you're providing it because you know they'll appreciate the quality and take care of it?  It may go further than what you'd think. 

4.       Communicate across the company.  Team meetings to review upcoming work and newsletters, blogs, or social media can help keep employees informed of what’s happening across the company and what's coming down the pipeline.  It will make them feel valued and secure in the future.

5.       Provide breakfast or lunch periodically.  They say the way to a man's hear is through his stomach.  As a female, I would say this is true for women too!  A family that eats together stays together.  Your team is your work family and we all want them to stick around, so this is a good way to boost employee morale and thank employees for their hard work at the same time.  Something as simple as pizza, burgers, or breakfast burritos will do the trick.

6.       Give them company apparel.  Most employees will proudly wear this as a badge of honor that they work with your team.  Let them show their company pride with a branded hat, shirt, or jacket!  Here’s another way to market your brand at the same time.

7.       Recognize exceptional work!  When you're finished with a project, share the excitement and tell them they're a part of the team that made it a success.  You could give them a photo of the project, a project t-shirt or hat, or a celebration to show your appreciation (see #5 and #6).

8.       Recognize Employees of the month.  This can be a hard one- depending on the company size and configuration but it can go a long way.  Consider having each foreman nominate someone.  Be sure to include why they were nominated.  Recognizing them in a newsletter, a meeting, a certificate, or a special hat or shirt would all be great ways to do this (see #6).

9.       Host Company Picnics or Parties.  Bringing your entire crew, including their family, is a great way to boost company morale and teamwork.  It gives management an opportunity to thank the families in person (see #2.)

10.   Provide training and/or advancement opportunities.  Workforce development is a huge buzzword right now and for good reason.  We need more tradesmen than ever before.  Training is a win-win for both the company and the employee.

We are forever thankful for our Spec Rents team.  Their hard work, dedication, and loyalty help to increase the safety and productivity of our customers and we appreciate all they do. 

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.  May your turkey be moist and your home and heart be full of love and thankfulness this holiday weekend.

Post by:  Elizabeth "Liz" Graves, Sales Manager at Spec Rents, LLC.  Contact Liz at

Bricklayer 500: Who will be the best bricklayer in North Texas?

Find out TOMORROW!!!

Bricklayer 500

If you've not seen this contest yet- it's worth coming out for!!! It's a great way to support the industry and the men and women who build the beautiful buildings that we're all proud of.

In a time when we face a shortage in the skilled workforce, this is one way we can all rally together to show how much pride there is in the masonry industry and why it's really awesome to be a mason.  #UMCA #CTMCA #TMC