It’s The Mortar
This past month, the TV networks seemed to constantly be featuring Washington D.C., and that coverage really showcased our national monuments present there. Especially so, I noticed, during the presidential inauguration celebrations. But I soon realized that all of these really beautiful buildings in D.C. got that way (beautiful), not because they are made of granite and marble, brick, block and stone, but because they are all held together with mortar. We see them because of the mortar. Mortar…really?
Mortar is what helps to turn a promising stack of block construction materials into a beautiful building.
“Architecture starts when you carefully put two bricks together. There it begins.” — Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
The term, mortar, also applies to the laws that keep our country safe, just as the love we have for each other is what binds us together. And it is that, completely, ‘American thing’, that swagger, the exceptionalism, that allows us to say to our enemies–in the words of the philosopher (and country singer) Toby Keith, “We’ll put a boot in your ass, it’s the American way!) It’s the mortar.
A favorite political cartoonist I enjoy is Steve Breen. A recent cartoon of his showed a brick being thrown through a sign which said “free speech”. It reminded me that, by itself, a brick can be a weapon. However, when you add to bricks the mortar of our First Amendment, a pile of these ‘weapons’ becomes the structure we know as Free Speech: a monument that has lasted over 240 years thus far in our country.
As contractors, we offer permanence, we bring out the beauty in a building. We are Masters of Mortar.
The U.S. motto is ‘e pluribus unum’, which is translated: ‘out of many, one’. Diverse people with different backgrounds and ideas are bound together, united into a distinct group of people: Americans. Face it: we are a people who are ‘mortared’ together!
The concept and existence of masonry structures goes back thousands of years. ‘Structure’ implies the necessity of mortar. Masonry is intended to be permanent. To be joined. To persevere. You know, there aren’t many stucco monuments in our nation’s capital!
As we gaze at the landscape known as D.C., seeing what has been built so far, let’s appreciate that it is the ‘brotherhood of block builders’ which has put together that landscape, and realize we are a part of that great fraternity.
What we do is not insignificant, and few can match us. If you want grandeur in granite, we’re your guys (and gals)!
The strength of brick and mortar is translated into the daily vernacular of everyday people, and we acknowledge the strength of that combination. We’ve all heard someone use the slang phrase… “Built like a brick —-house!”
And how do we describe what happens when we encounter a formidable obstacle? We say that we have ‘run into a brick wall!’ or that it’s like banging your head into one. We never say, “I ran into a fence.” Even sounds dumb, doesn’t it?
There’s a reason that block walls are viewed as being stronger and more durable than are wooden fences. The smartest of the Three Little Pigs built his house of bricks and saved his two brothers from the Big Bad Wolf. They made the mistake of building with straw and sticks—not bricks! Kings and queens live in castles made of some pretty durable materials—castles which are gorgeous besides. Formerly, just piles of brick and block until put together under the skill of a craftsman with a precision trowel. The ancient Chinese knew the value of a Great Wall and not a big fence! Chances are, if it is a long-lasting structure, it has mortar.
Retailers distinguish between their online and offline locations. Think of the image of that difference, and which sounds stronger: virtual…or brick-and-mortar? No question. No contest!
When folks ask you what you do for a living, you might sometimes say that you are in the masonry business. Can I challenge your thinking on that? Here’s why.
When I speak to contractor associations and talk about marketing, I am careful to remind them of this fact: You are NOT in the masonry business. You are, actually, in the business of SELLING masonry construction services. Anyone can call a supplier and get a load of brick or block delivered to a jobsite. It takes a top-notch contractor with a talented crew of craftsmen to bring out the beauty inherent in those materials and as envisioned in the mind of the architect and detailed in the blueprints.
The real question is this: who can BEST take those blocks and brick and quickly, yet carefully, create the edifice that was envisioned in the mind of the architect?
You are the Maestro of Marble. You should expect your next building to be a monument, because that’s the way you do things. It’s your trademark. You utilize the best materials, in the most efficient and elegant way imaginable. In a country full of building contractors you offer to your clients what the others can’t provide, which is the value they seek. Plus…they get YOU: your uniqueness and ability to bring together the ingredients, and create something great.
Value engineering should begin with masonry. Think about this value: the White House residence was re-built in 1817, and is still standing and looking great after all these years. What cost a couple of hundred thousand dollars to build back then still appears to have been an excellent price for today.
“In the West there has always been the attempt to try make the religious building, whether it’s a Medieval or Renaissance church, an eternal object for the celebration of God. The material chosen, such as stone, brick, or concrete, is meant to eternally preserve what is inside.” — Tadao Ando
Finally, for all of you Masters, Maestros, and MCAA Masons:
Follow the yellow brick road!
Gary Micheloni is a construction company marketer, speaker, author, consultant…and a coach. Get Coach Gary to speak for your group. FullContactTeam@gmail.com. Write him and ask! ©2017 Gary Micheloni