2014 MCAA Convention and Competitions

Exiting MCAA Chairman John Smith Jr. hands over the gavel to incoming Chairman Mark Kemp.
The MCAA South of 40 fundraising event benefiting The Masonry Foundation was held at Bahama Breeze and drew a crowd of 125.
Shown are Paul Odom, Mark Kemp, Jeff Buczkiewicz, Mike Sutter and Paul Oldham.
Participants hard at work during the Spec Mix BRICKLAYER 500 competition.
Participants hard at work during the Skills Challenge.
Shown is Skills Challenge First Year, 1st place winner Kelton McGee.
Shown is Skills Challenge Second Year, 1st place winner Raymond Wilk.
Shown are Paul Odom; Mike Sutter; Third Year, Skills Challenge 2nd place winner Jimmy Quinteros; Third Year, 1st place winner Kale Hallman; Third Year, 3rd place winner Colby Shelkop; and Mark Kemp.
Shown are the MCAA Fastest Trowel on the Block winners and their tenders.
Shown are Irvin Willoughby, Pascal Robertson Masonry, and his tender, Lawrence Singleton.
MCAA Fastest Trowel on the Block prizes.
Uriel Medrano from Glendale, Ariz., competes in the Fastest Trowel on the Block competition.

Early each year, the Mason Contractors Association of America (MCAA) holds its Convention during the World of Concrete/World of Masonry in Las Vegas. This year’s Annual Convention was full of learning and networking opportunities, along with exciting competitions and awards bestowed upon deserving industry veterans and young masons.

On Jan. 21, each MCAA Committee chairperson gave an update for his or her committee’s latest projects and initiatives. The MCAA’s South of 40 group held a fundraiser at Bahama Breeze, with funds going toward The Masonry Foundation. The foundation provides high-quality education, conducts research for the industry, promotes masonry careers and provides grants. Masonry Madness took place all day Jan. 22, with several contests being held to showcase masons’ skills and abilities.

The MCAA held its Annual Meeting on Jan. 23, and the convention came to an end that evening with a Closing Dinner held at Lawry’s. Mark Kemp of Superior Masonry in Milwaukee officially took the reigns as MCAA chairman, and the association thanked John Smith Jr. for all of his hard work during the last two years as chairman.

MCAA Masonry  Skills Challenge

The 15th annual Masonry Skills Challenge was held Jan. 22. The challenge is a competition of masonry apprentices in first-, second- and third-year skill levels. The contest is a showcase for skills training in the masonry industry, challenging winning apprentices from regional U.S. and foreign competitions to determine the top masonry apprentice at each level. Each contestant was presented with a project drawing appropriate to his skill level moments before the competition began. Contestants had three hours to construct the project based on the materials provided.

The first-year apprentice First Place winner was Kelton McGee of McGee Brothers Inc. in Monroe, N.C. The second-year apprentice First Place winner was Raymond Wilk with the District Council Training Center in Addison, Ill. The third-year apprentice First Place winner was Kale Hallman of McGee Brothers Inc. in Monroe, N.C.

Winners received trophies, cash prizes, Marshalltown tool bags and tools, concrete calculators from Calculated Industries, and levels from Johnson Level. First place winners also received engraved trowels from Marshalltown. All contestants received grout scoops and shirts from GROUT GRUNT, a mason’s pack from SPEC MIX, and additional prizes.

Fastest Trowel on the Block

The annual Fastest Trowel on the Block competition was held Jan. 22. The contest pit journeyman masons, accompanied by their favorite tender, against one another in a show of speed. Each contestant’s goal was to complete as much of a 30-foot-long wall as possible, using eight- x eight- x 16-inch CMU and the provided mortar in a 20-minute heat. Contestants were judged on craftsmanship, and use of normal masonry practices and hand tools.

First Place winner was Irvin Willoughby of Pascal Robertson Masonry Inc. in Sorrento, Fla. His tender was Lawrence Singleton. This was Irvin’s first win in the competition.

The Second Place winner was Kris Belinte of Native American Bricklayers in Chandler, Ariz. His tender was Fernando Jones. Kris placed third in the 2009 and 2012 Fastest Trowel on the Block competitions, second in 2014, and won the 2010 and 2011 competitions.

The Third Place winner was Pascal Robertson of Pascal Robertson Masonry Inc. in Sorrento, Fla. His tender was Tyler Robertson. Pascal is a two-time Fastest Trowel on the Block champion, winning back-to-back titles in 2008 and 2009. He placed second in 2003, 2004 and 2006, and third in 2014.

Winners were presented with trophies. First place took home $8,000 and a special trophy from Marshalltown; second place received $2,500; and $1,500 was awarded to third place. Cash prizes were provided by SPEC MIX. All winners received a grout scoop from GROUT GRUNT, a Marshalltown tool bag and tools, a gift certificate from STIHL, and additional prizes. For more information and sponsor information, visit

Masonry Hall of Fame

The Masonry Hall of Fame was created to recognize and award those individuals who have dedicated their lives to the masonry industry. Nominations are accepted to recognize individuals who have had a major impact on the masonry industry and have been in the industry for a minimum of 25 years.

On Jan. 23, the MCAA inducted three mason contractors into the 2014 Masonry Hall of Fame class. Inductees included Tom Daniel, Sam McGee and Marcus Vasquez.

Tom Daniel procured GBC Concrete & Masonry in 1993 and has served on local, state and national boards. He helped create the Vision 2020 program and has led the charge in encouraging architects, general contractors and others to build with masonry. Honors throughout his career include winning the C. DeWitt Brown Leadman Award in 2011 and being named 2011 Masonry Construction Leader of the Year.

Sam McGee began working in the construction industry for Huntley Brothers Masonry in 1969. In 1971, Sam began a new company, McGee Brothers Co., which evolved into one of the most successful masonry contracting firms in the nation. In the summer of 2012, The National Masonry Instructors Association inducted him into its own Hall of Fame.

After 13 years as an apprentice/journeyman bricklayer and with six kids under the age of 10, Marcus L. Vasquez started M.L. Vasquez Inc. in 1967. Until his retirement in 2003, he formed a legacy of dedication and purpose to his trade. Three of his seven children are now involved in and operating his masonry company.


C. DeWitt Brown Leadman Award

Each year, the MCAA presents the C. DeWitt Brown Leadman Award to an individual who has provided exemplary leadership in advancing the masonry industry. MCAA Past-Chairman John Smith Jr. presented the 2014 C. DeWitt Brown Leadman Award to Gregg Borchelt, PE, FASTM, FCSI, of the Brick Industry Association. He has served as president and CEO, and VP of engineering and research for that association.

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Shown are Fastest Trowel 2nd place winner Kris Belinte, Native American Bricklayers, and his tender, Fernando Jones. The family of the late Marcus Vasquez, M.L. Vasquez Inc., accepts his award and entrance into the Masonry Hall of Fame.
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Sam McGee (right), McGee Brothers Co., accepts the Masonry Hall of Fame award from MCAA Past-Chairman John Smith Jr. John Smith Jr. (left) presents the Masonry Hall of Fame award to Tom Daniel, GBC Concrete and Masonry and MCAA Past-Chairman. Gregg Borchelt, PE, FASTM, FCSI, of the Brick Industry Association accepts the C. DeWitt Brown Leadman Award from MCAA Past- Chairman John Smith Jr.
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Hanley Wood’s Tom Cindric (seated left) and MCAA Chairman Mark Kemp sign an agreement for the MCAA Convention to be held during World of Concrete for three more years; standing: Jeff Buczkiewicz, Paul Odom and Mike Sutter. MCAA South of 40 Committee’s Imani Brodie presents Jeff Buczkiewicz with the Fantasy Football trophy.

Tim O’Toole, director of marketing, education and information technology for the MCAA, contributed to this article.

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