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 lizg@specrents.com or Katherine Teel at katherinet@continentalcutstone.com.  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.

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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!

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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!!!

 

www.specrents.com

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

 

Going Up- Christus Spohn- Corpus Christi Shoreline Tower

Shadrock and Williams Masonry, Ltd. is currently completing the masonry on the new Christus Spohn- Corpus Christi Shoreline Tower.  The combination of their expertise in complex projects and quality equipment, such as the M2 and P Series Hydro Mobile, are helping to make this project a success.

 

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Spec Rents is proud to partner with Shadrock and Williams on this project to make it a safe and productive one.  Thanks to Mark Beers, at Shadrock and Williams, for allowing us to share these photos.

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

Orange Friday Sale 2017 is Here!

Today, Friday, December 1st through Friday, December 8th, take advantage of these low prices on all of our orange product lines:

  • Husqvarna
  • EZG Manufacturing
  • Malta Dyanmics

If it's orange, you know it's built to last.  So why not take advantage of any tax write offs your company may be eligible for in 2017 by investing in the best equipment and tools on the market?!?

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Click Here for full download of prices.  Bulk pricing may be available too!

Contact Liz at 512.633.5437 or lizg@specrents.com for questions.

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 lizg@specrents.com

Bend less, Lay More

Non-Stop Scaffolding

Non-Stop Scaffolding

Today I’ve got 3 questions for you:

 

  1. Do you have trouble finding and keeping qualified masons?

  2. Do you have trouble getting the production you need to meet aggressive schedules?

  3. Do you have masons that occasionally get injuries from poor ergonomics (i.e. reaching, lifting, or bending too much)?

Hydro Mobile with Hoist

Hydro Mobile with Hoist

 

If you answered yes to any of these, then read on to find out how Hydro Mobile and Non-Stop Scaffold can help.

With both systems, your masons are always laying at an appropriate height.  They’re not bending over and they’re not reaching over their head. 

 

 

 

 

What can this do for your company and your employees?

  • Safety Solutions.  It’s always best to start with safety. Not having to reach or bend means less occupational injuries, which can lead to additional cost and delays on the project.  I know many masons who have torn up shoulders after laying block overhead for 20+ years or aching backs every day when they go home from bending over.  Why not help prevent that? Both Non-Stop and Hydro Mobile can help prevent these injuries, which keeps your workforce happy and saves you money at the same time.

  • Workforce Solutions.  Let’s face it, masonry is hard work.  In a time when we struggle to find new masons, any way we can make their jobs easier we should take advantage of.  I can hear some of you more experienced masons out there thinking, “kids these days just don’t like to work hard.”  That may or may not be true and I’m not debating that today.  What I will say is that it makes sense to work smarter, not harder when you can.  Technology like these systems can be your friend and your crews will appreciate you making them more productive and keeping them healthier.

  • Production Solutions.  Your production will go up when you use a system like Hydro Mobile and/or Non-Stop Scaffold.  Like I said above, being at an appropriate height will allow masons to put units in the wall much faster.  Productivity = More Money
    • Hydro Mobile units also can be equipped with monorail systems for setting large stone or other materials faster, safer, and with fewer team members.
    • Hoist systems, whether on Non-Stop or Hydro Mobile, can be very convenient when you’ve “outreached” your forklift and you don’t have a lot (or any) crane-time available.  When your crews are consistently stocked, they are consistently putting units in the wall. 
    • Don’t stop to raise those boards!  You could easily spend 30 minutes each time you have to raise the boards.  That could be 1-1.5 hours a day.  If you’re paying your masons $25/hr, you’ve just lost at least $25 a day per mason.  That adds up fast on a long wall.  EX:  10 Masons on a 200’ wall and you’ve lost at least $250 per day.  That’s $1000 a month just for masons to stand around while the boards are raised! 

Spec Rents is a full-service Hydro Mobile and Non-Stop Scaffold dealer.  We proudly rent, sell, and service these two systems because we’ve been in the masonry industry.  We know first-hand that the above advantages can make a difference for problems with safety, manpower, and production.  Contact us to help you find the right system for your upcoming or current projects. We want to help you work smarter, not harder!

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

What’s big, orange, and partially round?

If you guessed a pumpkin, you’re right.  It is almost Halloween, of course!

But the answer I was looking for was a Mud Hog, one of the many fabulous creations by EZG Manufacturing.  Read below on how these bad boys can help you out.

MH12- Mud Hog

MH12- Mud Hog

At a time when everyone is scrambling to meet the requirements of the recently updated OSHA silica regulations, many are still asking what is supposed to happen with the mixing stations.  OSHA conveniently (or not-so-conveniently) left this out of Table 1.  Because of this, there’s no guidance of what is to be done here. 

So, what’s a contractor to do?

  • Pause for a minute before agreeing to use respirators (N95 most likely).  There’s a chance the General Contractor will assume this is what should be done but this opens a whole can of worms (and medical exams, fit testing, and paperwork) that you probably don’t want to do unless absolutely necessary (note: that there are some activities within Table 1 that may require it). 
  • Determine how you’re mixing your mortar.  Are you:
    • Using a silo system with pre-mixed mortar
    • Using pre-mixed mortar in smaller, most likely in 80 lb, bags
    • Batching (field mixing) everything
  • Check with your supplier or masonry association to see if you’ve got any access to objective data to show you’re under the limit. 
    • If you’re buying pre-mixed mortar, you may be able to get testing that is similar to what you’re doing from your suppliers.  This will likely need to be in the same general region as you are working or the mix design and conditions could be different, causing OSHA to not accept it as objective data.
    • Check with your local or state association to see if there’s any objective testing available for either pre-mixed or batching. 
    • If you can’t get objective data that works for the way you’re mixing, you can perform testing of your own but be careful to follow all steps and requirements for testing, including posting results, allowing employee representatives, etc.
  • If you’re over the PEL, you’ll need to determine what respirator your employees need to wear and follow the guidelines of the respiratory protection standards.
  • Stay tuned in to MCAA and with your suppliers. 
    • Manufactures, like EZG, are actively working to develop solutions to help contractors keep working, despite these new and challenging requirements.  
    • If you have ideas on creating better ways to handle these issues, partner with your manufacturers or suppliers to develop these solutions, when possible.

Regardless of whether you have the data to show you are under the PEL or not, if you’re making a big cloud of dust at your mixing station, you could still be a target of OSHA and/or the General Contractor’s safety person. 

Why does that matter?

  • Both groups can (and probably will) stop work until you can prove otherwise. 
    • If your mixing station shuts down, you’re not going to be laying units for much longer. 
    • It could take you a bit to find the necessary paperwork- so the easier access your crews have to all documentation, the better.
  • If OSHA finds one area that they see a lot of dust, they will probably look at every other area that there is potential dust.  Ask yourself the following:
    • How confident are you that your team is following everything in the regulation? 
    • Do you have paperwork for every other potential silica-producing activity? 
    • Is your respiratory protection plan up to date and does your crew know about it?
    • Is your SDS/HAZCOM all up to date and does your crew know about it?
    • Has your crew all been trained on silica and do you have proof?
    • Does your crew know who your competent person?
  • If there’s enough dust, OSHA may decide to do their own air monitoring and, even if you have objective data, you may be stuck with the test results that they do.
    • See OSHA’s memo for the Flowcharts they use to determine whether air sampling is necessary or not.

 

The big question is- how do I reduce the dust at the mixing station? 

By now you might be wondering why I led this story with the Mud Hog.  This is where the EZ Grout products come in- reducing the dust at the mixing station.  There’s a few great options, coupled with work practices, that can help you to prevent the dust that blows around like a big red flag:

Like any other dust control system- whether wet or vacuum- it is dependent upon the person operating it to be trained and use it correctly.  Running the mixer a few rotations with water before they open the grate to check the mix is necessary to avoid dust.  This may seem like common sense, but mud men are used to seeing their mix so there will be a learning curve.

EZG Mud Hogs Grate Covers

EZG Mud Hogs Grate Covers

Spec Rents is a proud distributor of EZG Manufacturing products, including the above-mentioned mixers.  Like other products we carry, we know that these products stand the test of time. 

Less downtime = more units in the wall. 

Whether it’s less breakdowns or fewer arguments with the General Contractor’s safety guy about a cloud of dust at the mixing station- the above EZG products will make you more productive.  That’s something we all need.  Check out our Silica Solutions product page for more info or contact us if we can help you in any way to navigate this regulation.

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