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December 2007

Apprentice Contest

And The Winners Are ...

Masonry Magazine

Matt Beck

Local 1 Maryland/Virginia/District of Columbia, South Region
BAC/Jim Tetro

This past September, the John J. Flynn BAC/IMI National Training Center in Bowie, Md., opened its doors for the first time, ushering in a new era of professional training and development for the nation's construction workforce. Masonry was there to tour the facility during the dedication ceremony and to observe the 2007 Bricklayers International Apprentice Contest — the first competition to be held at the new campus.

The 25-acre site includes a 61,000-square-foot training center and a 46,000-square-foot, three-story conference center. All BAC crafts will be taught at the center, and courses will be offered for all levels of BAC members, from pre-job apprentices to foremen and contractors. The constant for all classes will be safety training.

The conference center has dorm rooms for 108 students, recreation facilities, meeting rooms and a cafeteria. Its current annual capacity is 2,000 students, with approval for an additional 3,000-square-foot dormitory. The center also is the new home of IMI's renowned Masonry Camp summer program, where young architects and apprentice craftworkers experience masonry crafts and collaboration. To learn more about the facility, visit the archives for Masonry online at www.masonrymagazine.com/9-07/training.html.

For the contest, held Sept. 21 and 22, more than 100 apprentices from 23 states and Canada earned their way into the event by winning local union and regional competitions in eight categories: brick, cement, marble, plaster, PCC, stone, terrazzo and tile. "The Apprentice Contest shows how dedicated to their careers these young craftworkers are, and the new Training Center clearly demonstrates our Union's and our contractors' commitment to the future," says BAC President and IMI Co-Chair John J. Flynn, who was surprised during the dedication ceremony with the announcement that the facility would be named in his honor.

Masonry Magazine

Jacob Amos

Local 1 Oregon, West Region
BAC/Todd Buchanan

For this international competition, contestants were judged in several areas, including workmanship, production value, proper safety procedures, and the integrity of construction (rather than the speed of construction).

In each of the eight crafts, prizes were awarded for first- through third-place finishers, with the top prize consisting of $5,000 in cash, a $10,000 savings bond and a $500 BAC tool sales certificate. During the five-and-one-half-hour brick competition, it was anyone's guess who would take the top three spots, but it was clear that all of the competitors — nearly 40 of them in all — are skilled masons. In the end, Matt Beck from Local 1 Maryland/Virginia/District of Columbia earned first place, Jacob Amos from Local 1 Oregon took second place, and Steve Powers from Local 9 Michigan claimed third place.

Beck used to spend his summers laboring for a local contractor, which led him to take advantage of an opportunity to study masonry for his final three years of vocational high school. "I figured, ‘why not,' and I decided I liked it," he says. Now, Beck takes bimonthly classes through his local union, and listens to his foreman, but saves the most credit for his success for his instructor, John Clark, Jr. "He kept me interested," Beck says. He called his former instructor the night of the awards banquet. "He said it made his career," Beck says.

Masonry Magazine
Steve Powers

Local 9 Michigan, North Central Region
BAC/Jim Tetro
Amos was nervous when he first competed as a first-year apprentice, where he took second place as well. But this third-year apprentice was a seasoned vet of six contests by the time he arrived in Bowie, Md. Amos' grandfather was a bricklayer from England and the first BAC member in Seattle. As an accomplished bricklayer himself, Amos hopes to someday build his own home. "Anything I have, I want to learn to build it myself," he says. What might that future home look like? Amos dreams about constructing a castle. "I have something to work for," he says.

Powers started developing his masonry skills in high school trade school, breaking tradition with his farming family in upstate Michigan. He would have liked to stay in farming, but "there wasn't enough room" for a younger sibling. He credits his local union instructor, Matt Cecora, with honing his skills and his appreciation for the craft. "I am just going to stick with it," he says. Powers was happy just to compete, although he is enjoying the title and that trophy on his dresser. "You get a little more respect. It's a good year," he says.

Together, BAC and IMI operate North America's only professional training programs in all masonry crafts. Their training network consists of regional facilities, satellite centers and mobile training units, anchored by the National Training Center. Courses are offered at all stages of a BAC member's career, from entry-level apprentices to seasoned journey-level craftworkers. To learn more, visit www.imiweb.org and www.bacweb.org.



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