Editor’s Note: For the second installation of our Wall of Fame series, we’re highlighting Brett Hales, who comes from a long line of masonry professionals dating back to the early 1900’s. He’s been in the industry for over 20 years, starting out at around seven years old, and is currently the Vice President of Hirschi Masonry, in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Masonry Magazine: Tell us a little bit about your background and family.
Brett Hales: I grew up in Spanish Fork, Utah working for my father’s general contracting company. I learned at a young age the value of hard work by working on my uncle’s farm hauling hay and irrigating crops. I have been married for almost 14 years and have four beautiful girls who are all very active in sports, dance and music. We enjoy being outdoors together whether it’s camping, riding 4-wheelers or motorcycles. With having all girls, we also enjoy going for pedicures as a family.
M.M.: How did you get started in the masonry industry?
B.H.: Masonry is in my bloodline, going back to the early 1900s. My great-grandfather and his brothers manufactured brick in Vernal, Utah. I have been in the industry for two decades working in construction and masonry.
M.M.: What are your earliest memories of being on the job sites?
B.H.: Around age four, my dad used to take my older brother and I to the jobsites with him to give my mom a break. He would have us boys pull nails out of 2x4s and stack them at around age 7. When I was closer to 10 years old he had us pack roof tin and B Decking, in the heat of the summer, across the schoolyard over to the building to be installed.
M.M.: How did you progress through the industry?
B.H.: I studied and learned. I made mistakes and learned from those mistakes. I became more knowledgeable through opportunities and by mentors who were willing to teach me. My mentors were patient and guided me along my career. I have been able to grow from an assistant foreman to vice president at Hirschi Masonry.
M.M.: What drew you to the masonry industry?
B.H.: Being that I have a family background in general contracting, where all trades must be somewhat understood, I really came to love the ability to focus on one discipline. I embraced the opportunity to be able to excel and become an expert within the masonry trade.
M.M.: What kept you in the industry for as long as you did?
B.H.: Opportunities, challenges, success, knowledge, experience, friends, relationships, and an overall love for what I do.
M.M.: What do you like about the industry?
B.H.: I greatly enjoy the ability to work with great people and the challenges of every day business. From company employees, to vendors, to clients and contractors, architects and engineers, I have the opportunity to rub shoulders with great individuals who work through every challenge to provide great results.
M.M.: What has been the hardest part of working in this industry?
B.H.: Currently the most difficult part of working in the masonry industry as an executive is finding skilled labor. The recession in 2009 was felt extremely hard here in Las Vegas. Skilled workers were driven away from the construction industry and relocated to different areas. At Hirschi Masonry, we hope to motivate the upcoming generation to be interested and excited about skilled trades.
M.M.: What do you think is your legacy?
B.H.: Reputations, relationships, friendships and some cool buildings. I also love the opportunity to teach a younger generation not only about masonry but to be a mentor to those in need.
M.M.: What does this work mean to you and your family?
B.H.: My work in the masonry industry provides a means for me to support my family, and allows them to see an end product of what I do. It is a sense of pride seeing a project turn from a concept drawing turn into something great.
M.M.: Do you have any advice for younger people going into the field?
B.H.: Work hard, focus and all the rest will come. Don’t get caught up in the right here, right now. This trade will be just as important (just as much demand and as profitable) as doctors and lawyers in the long term.
M.M.: What does being recognized as someone who’s done so much mean to you?
B.H.: Being recognized to me means that those who have put blood, sweat and tears into teaching me are being complimented on their hard work. I am grateful for the many who have believed in me and given me the chance to grow and excel in the masonry industry.