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Masonry Madness Day Recognizes World’s Best Masons

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Masonry Madness 2014

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Wide shot of the competition arena

Masonry Madness Day was held during the World of Concrete/World of Masonry tradeshow in Las Vegas on Jan. 22. Masonry Madness sent home many happy masons with smiles on their faces, money in their pockets, and “World’s Best” titles attached to their names.

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SPECMIX BRICKLAYER 500 NATIONAL winners with trophies and sponsor prizes

A theme created by SPEC MIX Inc. to promote the masonry trade, Masonry Madness Day is a collection of the most intense, exciting masonry competitions in the world. The action started with the MCAA’s Masonry Skills Challenge, followed by the SPEC MIX Toughest Tender and Fastest Trowel on the Block competitions that set up the main event, the SPEC MIX BRICKLAYER 500.

Considered the largest tradesmen event in the world, Masonry Madness Day attracts more than 4,000 attendees that fill a 90,000-square-foot arena. The centerpiece is the SPEC MIX BRICKLAYER 500, which awards the day’s grand prize, a new Ford F250 SuperDuty, 4×4 Truck. This year’s events had a focus on supporting workforce development in the industry. In addition, there were several masonry application live learning demonstrations hosted by the International Masonry Institute, National Concrete Masonry Association and the Masonry Veneer Manufacturers Association.

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First Place and SPEC MIX TOP CRAFTSMAN winner mason Jerry Goodman with mason tender Heidi Albea behind his winning brick wall
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Second Place mason Steve Cleveland and mason tender Sedat Supurgeci
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Third Place mason Filipe Orfao and mason tender Jose Orfao

For the first time, the top two awards of the SPEC MIX BRICKLAYER 500 National Championship were claimed by a father-daughter team, mason Jerry Goodman and his mason tender, daughter Heidi Albea. He laid 644 bricks and won the titles “World’s Best Bricklayer” and “Top Craftsman” (see “BRICKLAYER 500 Winner Jerry Goodman”). Jerry and Heidi won a new 2014 Ford F-250 XLT 4×4 Crew Cab pick-up, $10,000 in cash and prizes including a Essick Pro12 Mortar Mixer, two STIHL-TS 500i Cutquik cut-off machines, two loaded Marshalltown tool bags and trophy trowel, two IQ360 14-inch masonry saws with its Smart Cart accessory, two Crick custom levels and two 10-packs of Gatorback Mortarboards.

The Second Place overall winner was Steve Cleveland, age 39, with Midwest Masonry, Mundelein, Ill., who laid 604 brick without any deductions. Steve won $4,000 cash, a STIHL-TS 420 Cutquik cut-off machine, a loaded Marshalltown tool bag, a custom Crick level and a 10-pack of Gatorback Mortarboards. Cleveland, a veteran competitor and winner of the 2013 SPEC MIX TOP CRAFTSMAN award, was paired with mason tender Sedat Supurgeci.

The Third Place overall winner was 44 year old, mason Filipe Orfao from Cambridge, Ontario, who is with the Res Group of Companies, located in Cookstown, Ontario. Filipe, a veteran competitor, laid 588 brick and his mason tender was his brother Jose Orfao of Hamilton, Ontario. Filipe won $3,000 in cash, a $700 STIHL gift certificate, a loaded Marshalltown tool bag, a custom Crick level, and a 10-pack of Gatorback Mortarboards.

To earn a seat at the Championship event, the bricklayers had to win one of 16 SPEC MIX BRICKLAYER 500 Regional qualifying competitions the SPEC MIX organization held in 2013 throughout the United States and Canada. The 2014 qualifying Regional schedule will be released in early-summer of this year. Visit www.specmixbricklayer500.com.

MCAA’s Fastest Trowel on the Block

In this top block-layer smack down, masons pushed their skills and endurance to the limit for 20 grueling minutes of pure excitement. The event consisted of 18 teams that include one mason and two mason tenders that function like a well-oiled machine. Sponsored by the National Concrete Masonry Association (NCMA) and supported by AZ Best Block of Phoenix and SPEC MIX Inc., the competitors battled for a total purse of more than $15,000 in cash and sponsor prizes.

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MCAA Fastest Trowel on the Block winners
MCAA Masonry Skills Challenge winners

First Place: Mason Irvin Willoughby of Pascal Robertson Masonry Inc., Sorrento, Fla., won First Place with a count of 126 block that earned Irvin $8,000 in cash, a $500 STIHL certificate, a trophy and additional sponsor prizes.

Second Place: Mason Kris Belinte, of Native American Bricklayers, Chandler, Ariz. Kris laid 115 block and won $2,500 in cash, a $300 STIHL certificate, a trophy and additional sponsor prizes.

Third Place: Mason Pascal Robertson, with Pascal Robertson Masonry Inc., Sorrento, Fla., with 118 block laid. Pascal won $1,500 in cash, a $100 STIHL certificate, a trophy and additional sponsor prizes.

SPEC MIX Toughest Tender

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MCAA Masonry Skills First Place winner for First Year, mason apprentice Kelton McGee MCAA Masonry Skills First Place winner for Second Year, mason apprentice Raymond Wilk
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MCAA Masonry Skills First Place winner for Third Year, mason apprentice Kale Hallman Winning mason tender Tony Shelton in action

The world’s top mason tenders compete for the fastest time setting up their SPEC MIX BRICKLAYER 500 workstation. The SPEC MIX Toughest Tender winner was Tony Shelton of Creative Masonry, Jonesborough, Tenn. Tony won the $2,500 in cash, a trophy and additional sponsor prizes.

MCAA’s Masonry Skills Challenge

The crowd saw top bricklayer apprentices in their first, second and third year of training showcase their skills as they stepped-up their game in this three-hour bricklaying competition.

First Year Apprentice: Mason apprentice Kelton McGee of McGee Brothers Inc., Monroe, N.C., took First Place in 1st year to win $750 in cash, a trophy and additional sponsor prizes.

Second Year Apprentice: Mason apprentice Raymond Wilk, District Council Training Center Inc., Addison, Ill., took First Place in 2nd year to win $750 in cash, a trophy and additional sponsor prizes.

Third Year Apprentice: Mason apprentice Kale Hallman, of McGee Brothers Inc., Monroe, N.C., took First Place in 3rd year to win $750 in cash, a trophy and additional sponsor prizes.

BRICKLAYER 500 Winner Jerry Goodman

By Tom Inglesby


The Spec Mix BRICKLAYER 500 featured teams from across the country vying for the title of World’s Best Bricklayer and Top Craftsman. Masons practiced for days, weeks, even months to perfect their techniques and increase their speed.

Well, not every mason practiced. In fact, the winner, Jerry Goodman of Blythewood, S.C.-based Jerry Goodman Masonry, claims he didn’t do anything to get ready for the competition. “I didn’t practice at all,” says Goodman. “I’ve been laying brick my whole life. The main thing you’ve got to do is just stay calm.”

This was only Goodman’s second attempt at the prize, and you might say he was a somewhat reluctant participant. Goodman’s daughter, Heidi Albea, actually pushed him into getting involved in bricklaying competitively two years ago.

“She and her husband found some applications at Boral Brick in Columbia for the bricklaying competition,” Goodman recalls. “She wanted me to try, and I said, ‘Okay, let’s do it.’ That year, the regionals were held in Charleston, and I took first place and craftsman, and then went to Vegas. However, I didn’t place in Vegas.”

Heidi Albea, it must be noted, is not only Goodman’s daughter, she’s his tender. So, when she said, “Well let’s do it one more year, Dad,” Goodman couldn’t refuse. “I said, ‘Alright,’ and so last year, we went to the regionals in Charlotte.”

Good thing he did; he took first place in Craftsman and went on to the national competition in Las Vegas. The results speak for themselves, but Goodman voices them saying, “We actually won the top two prizes. They said it was the first time it’s ever happened in the 12 years they’ve been putting it on.”

Competitive bricklaying isn’t for every mason. Goodman started out laying brick at the age of 17 and has been working the trade for about 40 years, the last 15 heading up his own company. In the early-1990s, he entered and won the state block-laying Fastest Trowel competition for two years in a row. And, while block laying and bricklaying are different, the competitive stress is similar.

According to Albea, “Dad said it was just too intense, and he didn’t want to try a second time. But I talked him into one more time, and he did it – he won.”

Goodman agrees. “That’s why I wasn’t really too hip on going back into competition. I enjoy them, but they are very intense. It’s a lot of work. But it’s still a good time.”

Albea has been helping Goodman for years, not just in competitions, but throughout the company’s work. As Albea says, “It started out as Jerry Goodman and Sons – my brother, Donny, works for Dad – and then I got involved and stayed. So Dad had to change the name to Jerry Goodman Masonry. I seemed to be around all the time, and I enjoy the challenge, working hard, and working outside; it just seemed natural.”

A father-daughter team is uncommon, especially with the woman doing the tending. Under competitive stress, it’s even a harder job. “I didn’t have any problems,” Albea admits. “I’m used to keeping him and my brother stocked with brick and mud, so that was right up my alley. I had to keep moving; I didn’t have any down time. He kept me busy.”

Next on the agenda? Returning in 2015 to defend his titles and, if all goes according to plan, tending for son Donny or daughter Heidi at some point in the future. Meanwhile, the whole family can enjoy the spoils of Jerry Goodman’s win: a red 2014 Ford F-250 4×4 pickup truck and more than $20,000 in cash and prizes. See you next year, Jerry and Heidi!


Tom Inglesby, former editor of Masonry, lives and works as a writer in Southern California.

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