In our ninth GEN NXT interview we got the chance to talk with Journeyman Christopher Dubief at R & R Masonry. During the time of the interview Dubief was preparing for the Fastest Trowel On The Block at World Of Concrete. He’s one of our younger features, giving us a fresh insight into field experience and future aspirations. We’d liket o thank JagClamp for continuing to sponsor this important series.
Masonry Magazine: How did you get started in the industry?
Christopher Dubief: I got started with my brother-in-law. He’s a tender for the masons. I was looking for work at the time and he was able to get me a job with the company and that’s how I started out.
M.M.: Do you have any family in the industry, aside from your brother-in-law?
C.D.: I have three brothers-in-law and a nephew.
M.M.: What drew you to the industry?
C.D.: At first it was the money, I was working doing forklift driving and stuff like that. Then my brother-in-law told me how much I could make eventually when I start an apprenticeship. I knew it was the job for me, once I started learning I discovered how much I love to do it.
M.M.: Tell us about your apprenticeship.
C.D.: I was in the apprenticeship for about three and a half years. During that time I participated in a couple contests. I was out in Las Vegas twice, and I’ll be participating this year in the Fastest Trowel On the Block for the Journeymen.
M.M.: How did you start your apprenticeship?
C.D.: My brother-in-law was working for R & R Masonry and he let the Superintendent know I was interested in an apprenticeship, and they got me in. I was working for about three months then I went to my first class. After that it’s just been school and then work.
M.M.: Can you talk about any of the instructors you’ve had.
C.D.: I’ve had two instructors during my apprenticeship. My first instructor was an older gentleman, Gary Anthony. He taught me all the basics I know now, after about six months he retired. Then I got a new instructor, Steve Sianez, he’s really great, even to this day he still makes sure I know everything I need to. Just the other day, I went over to his classroom to practice for the Fastest Trowel On The Block. He’s very good at what he does and is a great teacher.
M.M.: Let’s jump ahead, how did you prepare for the Fastest Trowel On The Block vs. the Skills Challenge?
C.D.: For the Skills Challenge, I mostly practiced with different projects, just to get the feel for everything. Once I did that, I gained more confidence with my time and the project.
With the Fastest Trowel On The Block it’s a little different, it’s only 20 minutes and you have to be fast laying block. There are different techniques I have to learn, I have to spread the mortar differently and stuff like that.
M.M.: What challenges have you faced so far in the industry?
C.D.: When I was an apprentice my main challenge was trying to do my job well, laying brick and block, while trying to keep up with the Journeymen to show them I can do it too. Other than that, there weren’t many challenges for me, as soon as I started I felt pretty confident I could do this job. Not that it was easy. I knew it would take practice. But I had a lot of confidence once I started using my trowel and tools and got wall time.
I started my first contest when I was four months in to my apprenticeship. I think that has a lot to do with my confidence. I’m always challenging myself to try to improve my skill.
M.M.: How is it working with the more experienced guys on jobsites?
C.D.: Everybody has their pet peeves, you just have to get to know everybody and work with them. We’re all one team. Don’t be afraid to talk with the older guys and to ask questions. A lot of them want to help you succeed in the industry and the way I’ve heard it from a lot of the older guys, we’re their future check. When they retire, we’re the ones making the money for their retirement checks. They’re good guys, you just have to get to know them. They’ll help you out with whatever you need.
M.M.: Where do you see yourself going in the industry?
C.D.: I started as an apprentice and I worked my way up to Journeyman and now I’m trying to work my up to being a Foreman and that’s my goal right now. I’m going to keep doing good work and start running jobs. I’ve run a couple jobs so far, as an apprentice I ran two jobs, and now as a Journeyman I’ve ran three or four jobs. But really small things, I just want to push myself to better and get bigger jobs, and try to be Foreman one day, and possibly become a Superintendent for one of my companies.
M.M.: You mentioned the jobs you’ve run. Tell us a little bit more about those.
C.D.: My very first job I ran was at Pepperdine University, and it was a small trash enclosure. It was a good experience for me. I was an apprentice at the time and was seventh period and so that’s pretty unheard of, an apprentice running work. But I got out there and did it.
M.M.: What’s going to keep you in the industry moving forward?
C.D.: I definitely love to do the contests, they keep me interested and motivated. Coming to work everyday and laying block, it’s interesting to me. Growing up I played with LEGOs a lot, so it’s pretty similar in that. I really like to do this, my passion will keep me interested and motivated.
M.M.: What’s your proudest moment so far?
C.D.: Probably a few different ones. You know, when I when a contest and getting the trophy, I feel very accomplished.
M.M.: Are you involved with the MCAA through your company?
C.D.: I would definitely like to start getting involved. It’s a big thing and I plan to go to the contests in Las Vegas in the near future.
M.M.: Describe your experience in the industry thus far in one sentence.
C.D.: It’s been really fun and exciting to me, when I come to work I don’t think of it as that, it’s fun and exciting.
M.M.: What advice do you have for those wanting to get started in the industry?
C.D.: Stay motivated and be positive. When you first start out in the industry, you don’t lay brick or block, you do a lot of what I call grunt work. Doing cleanouts, moving stuff around, a lot of work with the saws, doing these things may discourage you. Don’t be nervous, don’t hesitate when it’s your turn to be up there on the wall and give it all you got. Ask a lot of questions, when I first started you see a lot of guys that don’t ask and try to do things; this just hurts you in the long run. Other than that, keep your head up and stay busy.