One of the highlights at every year’s World of Concrete is the day spent in the Gold Lot watching as novice and polished masonry professionals put their skills on display in front of the thousands of people in attendance. At stake: thousands of dollars, a Ford truck, products from industry-leading suppliers, and recognition as one of the leaders in the industry.

Masonry Skills Challenge

The Masonry Skills 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. This exciting competition spotlights our industry’s finest young masons and focuses attention on careers in the masonry industry.

Each contestant was presented with a project drawing appropriate to his or her skill level just moments before the competition began. Contestants only had three hours to construct the project based on the materials provided. The final projects looked great; the apprentices should be very proud of their three hours of hard work. The judges were impressed with the quality of the apprentices’ construction, and had the tough decision of choosing the winners.

All winners received trophies, cash prizes, Marshalltown Company tool bags, and concrete calculators from Calculated Industries. First place winners also received engraved trowels from Marshalltown Company. All contestants received a level from competition sponsor Stabila, a GROUT GRUNT masonry scoop, a safety kit from Beeline Purchasing, and additional prizes.

First Year Apprentices


First Place — Joseph Blanton; WASCO, Inc.; Knoxville, Tenn (pictured)
Second Place — Victor Walls; Hummel Industries; Cincinnati, Ohio
Third Place — Ramon Vargas; G & G Enterprises; Glendale, Arizona

Second Year Apprentices


First Place — Luis Marquez; Huntley Brothers Co. Inc.; Mint Hill, N.C. (pictured)
Second Place — Austin McEwen; Adams Masonry, Inc.; Chattanooga, Tenn.
Third Place — Travis Buda; Leidal & Hart Mason Contractors, Inc.; Livonia, Mich.

Third Year Apprentices


First Place — David McWilliams; Kusler Masonry; Carnegie, Pa. (pictured)
Second Place — Chris Dubief; R & R Masonry, Inc.; North Hollywood, Calif.
Third Place — Ben Grzegorczyk; Baker Construction; Whitmore Lake, Mich.

The Spec Mix Toughest Tender®

The SPEC MIX TOUGHEST TENDER® competition, held second on the day, serves as a preliminary round to the SPEC MIX BRICKLAYER 500® World Championship. Here, tenders showed off their organization, safety, and speed abilities. The challenge is set up just like a job site, with materials laid out near each stall. When the competition begins, tenders move the items into the stall in a way that matches a provided diagram and demonstrator stall. The tender’s stall that is set up correctly in the least amount of time while still being safe wins.

Throughout the competition, judges monitor each competitor and have the ability to remove anyone from the competition due to an unsafe act. Additionally, tenders must be aware of quality and use brick tongs to ensure that there are no chipped bricks. On top of that, the stall must be restored to its original state minus the materials used for creating the starter courses.

The winner took home $2,500 and hundreds of dollars worth of sponsor prizes.

Winner — Chet Huntley; Huntley Brothers Company; Mint Hill, North Carolina (pictured)

Fastest Trowel on the Block

Next up was the Fastest Trowel on the Block competition, which is hosted annually by the MCAA as part of MASONRY MADNESS®. It serves as a way for professionals to showcase their craftsmanship and a testament to the speed and skill of masonry’s workforce.

The contest pits 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 8”x8”x16” CMU and the provided mortar in a twenty-minute heat. But speed alone won’t net the $8,000 check for first place. Contestants were also judged on craftsmanship, and use of normal masonry practices and hand tools.

As the crowd cheered them on, the masons worked quickly to build a quality wall during the fast-paced contest. After the building period, the judges walked the competition arena and completed their scoring.

Winners were presented with trophies, plus first place took home $8,000, a special trophy from Marshalltown, and a 10-pack of mortar boards from GATORBACK; second place received $2,500; and $1,500 was awarded to third place. Cash prizes were provided by SPEC MIX, Inc. All winners received a Marshalltown tool bag and tools, a gift certificate from STIHL, and additional prizes. All contestants received a level from competition sponsor Stabila and a GROUT GRUNT masonry scoop.


First Place — Gerardo Patlan; Fyffe Masonry & Plastering, Inc.; Glendale, Ariz.; Tender: Roberto Patlan; Block Count: 119 (pictured)
Second Place — Jose Soto; Sargon Masonry; Phoenix; Tender: Tomas Quinones Lopez; Block Count: 115
Third Place —Jose Noe Martinez; Stone Cold Masonry; Phoenix; Tender: Heriberto Estrada; Block Count: 116

Spec Mix Bricklayer 500® World Championship

Last up for the day was the 15th annual SPEC MIX BRICKLAYER 500® WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP, which was attended by over 4,000 people. 25 two-man teams made up of one mason and a tender had just an hour to build a 26’-8” double-wythe brick wall. Similar to the Fastest Trowel competition earlier in the day, the goal was to complete the wall as quickly and safely as possible. Teams were judged by 30 experts in the field on 10 sets of craftsmanship requirements.

With the aim to give back to the trade, the event has grown of the years. However, it still aims to unite the masonry profession and put the craftsman on the world’s stage.

The winner of this competition walked away with a 2017 Ford F-250 4×4 XLT Super Duty Truck and $15,000 in additional cash and prizes.

Winner — Matt Cash; Huntley Brothers Company; Mint Hill, North Carolina; Brick Count: 716 (pictured)

Additionally, the SPEC MIX TOP CRAFTSMAN Award is given to the team that completes the “most sellable” wall with over 500 bricks laid and zero deductions on quality.

The winner of that award receives a $5,000 check and other cash and prizes.

Winner — Brian Tuttle; Quik Trowel Masonry; Clearfield, Utah

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this article ran the incorrect photos of Matt Cash and Chet Huntley, the respective winners of the SPEC MIX TOUGHEST TENDER® and SPEC MIX BRICKLAYER 500® WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP. We have corrected the issue here, and will publish the correct photos in our April issue. Apologies, and congratulations to the winners! 

Words: Masonry Magazine
Photos: Masonry Magazine and SPEC MIX®