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Fred Campbell Is ‘World’s Best Bricklayer’

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SPEC MIX BRICKLAYER 500

The 2013 SPEC MIX BRICKLAYER 500 drew crowds of more than 4,000 to the Gold Lot of the Las Vegas Convention Center.
The 2013 SPEC MIX BRICKLAYER 500 drew crowds of more than 4,000 to the Gold Lot of the Las Vegas Convention Center.

The 2013 SPEC MIX BRICKLAYER 500 National is a 60-minute bricklaying competition comprised of the best bricklayers in the world. Twenty, two-man teams made up of a mason and mason tender compete to lay the most bricks, while meeting strictly defined quality standards. The competitors compete for more than$100,000 in cash and prizes before a crowd of 4,000 fans. The competition was held Feb. 6 at the Masonry Madness Arena during the 2013 World of Concrete/World of Masonry trade show in Las Vegas.

First place winner was Fred Campbell, a mason with Creative Masonry, located in Jonesborough, Tenn. He was declared “World’s Best Bricklayer,” with 634 brick laid. Campbell won the grand prize of a 2013 Ford F-250, XLT, V8, SuperDuty, CrewCab, 4 x 4 truck; $5,000 in cash; a STIHL GS 461 Rock Boss Concrete Cutter; and thousands in additional sponsor prizes. His mason tender was Tony Shelton also with Creative Masonry.

Boral Bricks supplied 29,640 bricks used during the day’s events.
Boral Bricks supplied 29,640 bricks used during the day’s events.

The 2013 SPEC MIX Bricklayer 500 TOP CRAFTSMAN award was given to mason Steve Cleveland of Midwest Masonry, located in Mundelein, Ind. Cleveland laid 530 bricks. The combined brick count and quality of his wall was judged the, “most sellable.” His mason tender was William R Hill III. Cleveland won $5,000 in cash; a Multiquip PRO12 mixer; a STIHL GS 461 Rock Boss Concrete Cutter; and thousands in sponsor prizes.

The 2nd place overall winner was a past champion mason, Ray Robinson with JAM Construction, Lake City, Fla. Robinson laid 588 bricks, and his mason tender was Lynette Darby. He won $4,000 cash, a IQ 360 14-inch Masonry Saw with built-in vacuum system and other sponsor prizes.

The 3rd place overall winner was mason Darian Douthit with Providence Masonry, located in Fairland, Okla. Douthit laid 576 bricks, and his mason tender was Fernando (Andy) Zepeda. Darian won $3,000 in cash and sponsor prizes.

Shown are World’s Best Bricklayer Fred Campbell and his tender, Tony Shelton, in front of their brick wall.
Shown are World’s Best Bricklayer Fred Campbell and his tender, Tony Shelton, in front of their brick wall.

Shown are 2013 SPEC MIX TOP CRAFTSMAN mason Steve Cleveland (right) and his tender, William R. Hill III. Shown is SPEC MIX TOUGHEST TENDER Adrian Tena.
Shown are 2013 SPEC MIX TOP CRAFTSMAN
mason Steve Cleveland (right) and his
tender, William R. Hill III.
Shown is SPEC MIX TOUGHEST TENDER
Adrian Tena.

The SPEC MIX TOUGHEST TENDER winner was Adrian Tena with G&G Enterprises, Phoenix, Ariz. Tena won $2,500 in cash and sponsor prizes. The SPEC MIX TOUGHEST TENDER is a preliminary event held just before SPEC MIX BRICKLAYER 500 National, during which the tenders race the clock to set up a predefined work area for the mason. His winning time was 20:40 minutes.

The BRICKLAYER 500 requires all masons to complete a 26-foot, eight-inch, double-wythe brick wall. The walls are closely evaluated by 27 carefully selected masonry officials averaging 20 years of bricklaying experience. Truck, cash and prizes are provided by SPEC MIX BRICKLAYER 500 National sponsors. Learn more at http://specmixbricklayer500.com.

Winners show off their trophies, cash prizes and Boral Bricks plaques. From left, third place team - mason tender Andy Zepeda and mason Darian Douthit; mason tender William R. Hill III and SPEC MIX TOP CRAFTSMAN mason Steve Cleveland; first place team - mason Fred Campbell and mason tender Tony Shelton; second place team - mason tender Lynette Darby and mason Ray Robinson; and SPEC MIX TOUGHEST TENDER Adrian Tena.
Winners show off their trophies, cash prizes and Boral Bricks plaques. From left, third place team – mason tender Andy Zepeda and mason Darian Douthit; mason tender William R. Hill III and SPEC MIX TOP CRAFTSMAN mason Steve Cleveland; first place team – mason Fred Campbell and mason tender Tony Shelton; second place team – mason tender Lynette Darby and mason Ray Robinson; and SPEC MIX TOUGHEST TENDER Adrian Tena.

Bio File

Fred CampbellFred Campbell
Mason Fred Campbell of Creative Masonry in his prize 2013 FORD F-250 4×4 XLT truck, along with his mason tender, Tony Shelton.

Congratulations to the 2013 SPEC MIX BRICKLAYER 500 competition winner, Fred Campbell, whose craftsmanship, passion for masonry and talent for mentoring make him an exemplary figure in his field. I recently sat down and spoke with Campbell, who owns and operates Jonesborough, Tenn.-based Creative Masonry Inc.

Campbell was hooked on masonry from the moment he first began laying bricks alongside his father in his youth. “My dad was a mason contractor and had been for all his life,” says Campbell. “Dad taught me everything he knew and was really strict with me. He always taught me to do a good job and do it like it was your own house. If you would not accept your work on your house, don’t expect someone else to accept it that way.”

These words of wisdom have stuck with Campbell throughout his entire career, which began in earnest when he took over his father’s business at age 18. Now 41, he credits the success of his career and company to this commitment to quality, which is a source of great satisfaction for him and his employees.

“We take a lot of pride in our work and that pride goes well beyond what most masons would do,” Campbell says, noting that Creative Masonry takes on both residential and commercial projects, whether brick or block.

Campbell took over Creative Masonry more than 20 years ago. Ninety percent of the company’s 50 employees have been with the company for more than a decade, including his brother, who holds a position of foreman, and his 75-year-old father, who works as his “gopher.” Campbell trained or retrained the majority of his employees and believes mentored training is essential to the survival of the masonry industry.

“There are a lot of brick and block layers, but there are very few masons,” he says, pointing out that very few people in the industry actually can build fireplaces, chimneys, arches and other decorative elements.

Demand for this high level of masonry craftsmanship exists, yet few in the “new generation” are being taught these invaluable skills. Thus, apprenticeship programs and masonry associations like the MCAA are essential for the survival of the industry.

“A lot of the older guys retired when the economy went bad,” Campbell says. “And it’s hard to find younger men who like laying brick. A lot give up on it before they even start.”

The MCAA provides plenty of guidance to its members on how to pass on their passion and experience to the next generation through recruiting and mentoring programs.
“We are really fortunate that we do what we do,” Campbell says. “It’s a good career choice.”


Shelley Ross is director of marketing for Boral Bricks, a clay brick and paver manufacturer. She may be reached at Shelley.Ross@boral.com.


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