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October 2007

Making the Grade

Having grown up in a family of masons, Dustin Daniels' skills might be in his blood. What wasn't automatic, however, were his work ethic and positive attitude. Those he cultivated and honed on his own.

"I just can't express how I feel about this young man," says Steve Cheatwood, Daniels' masonry instructor, who later described Daniels as someone "he would match against anyone in just hard work and good attitude."

Daniels, who recently graduated, was popular among his classmates. "He was a stellar student," says Cheatwood, who instructed Daniels for four years in the Lawrence County High School masonry program in Lawrenceburg, Tenn. "He always had a knack for [masonry], but that wasn't enough for him. He worked hard at it. He took his projects seriously but, most important, his work ethic stood out.

"He loved the competitions," Cheatwood continues. "He was never nervous and was so confident. It was a lot of fun to attend the national masonry competition in Kansas City last summer as Dustin's sponsor."

Cheatwood says that as a youngster, he had competed in union apprenticeship. "The difference was that after I won the Tennessee state competition, I got married and didn't attend the national contest," he says. "Through Dustin, I got to see what I missed.

"His confidence never ceased to amaze me," Cheatwood says. "Where I was a nervous wreck, Dustin was calm and always under control. I never saw him in a contest where he didn't feel that he should earn the first-place prize."

Daniels and his older brother now work for their father, who owns Daniels Masonry.

"Dustin and his family are very close," Cheatwood says. "It's so enjoyable to see good families in the trade. And, it's so good to see such good work in the trade. Daniels Masonry does top-of-the-line work. They are immaculate bricklayers."



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