Kayleen McCabe: First Experience At World of Concrete

Words: MASONRY Magazine 
Photos: NCCER, Kayleen McCabe 

Editor’s note: Licensed contractor and former DIY Network T.V. Host Kayleen McCabe attended World of Concrete for the very first time. Kayleen is passionate about improving and supporting workforce development and the construction industry overall. We took some time to chat with her about her experiences in Las Vegas at the World of Concrete 2019. We’d like to thank Kayleen for taking the time out to talk with us.   

MASONRY Magazine: Tell us a little bit about yourself. 

Kayleen McCabe: I’m a contractor out of Colorado, and I’ve focused in residential construction for a long time. Then I was able to do that on a DIY Network show called Rescue Renovation for five seasons. Once that started to transition to something else I transitioned to workforce development because I love construction! 

It’s not just something I did for the T.V. show, this is really my jam and I think there are phenomenal careers outside of it. So, I like partnering with great folks, working with different organizations that support the same mission. Groups like SkillsUSA, BYF, and NCCER are the blend of all the awesomeness. It’s so good! 

M.M.: This was your first time at World of Concrete. Tell us about your experience.  

K.M.: It was, and I regret that this year was my first! I wasted too many years not going. It blew my mind, I mean I go to plenty of conventions but I have never been to one where the Bronze Lot was an active area and there were so many vendors. I wished I gave myself more time. It was a lot bigger than I expected, I see a lot of specialized trade shows, and I thought to myself, “how much space can they take up with just concrete?” Oh! It was so cool! Of course it would be huge, you have huge machinery, blades that are like seven feet in diameter and just awesome toys.  

Then what really blew me away were the competitions, I expected it to be great with the SPEC MIX Bricklayer 500® but I was not prepared for the Toughest Tender competition. Which warmed my soul because this is a trade show that really celebrates its craft, not just trying to sell products.  

M.M.: Tell us about being in Build Your Future’s (BYF) booth in the Bronze Lot. 

K.M.: Yes, I partnered up with them not only to create video content but to enthusiastically lend my weight to their cause as well. We all need to get on board with their message. They have some phenomenal statistics that makes me honestly love this career path. They have some stuff that says, “Look, this is the actual debt load, the career earning opportunities, and the potential. It’s a good way to win.”  

M.M.: What did you do while at World of Concrete? 

K.M.: I took over the social media pages for BYF, so I spent a lot of time documenting the stuff I was seeing and I was trying to Facebook and Instagram live posts just to share what the competitions looked like. Then I was just hoofing around the Las Vegas Convention Center letting my eyeballs adjust to what was happening and things I wanted to play with. I loved seeing all the cool science and technology that is being incorporated into this industry. When you see concrete, you don’t necessarily think of cool products that I saw at the World of Concrete.  

M.M.: What was beneficial about going? Would you go again? 

K.M.: Oh I already have my travel plans for next year! I can’t wait to go back. You know, in my first year [going] I understood the idea of the Toughest Tender®. But, I should’ve been in the front row for all the competitions. The last one [SPEC MIX Bricklayer 500®] I was lucky enough to be up on the VIP Scaffold so I had a bird’s eye view. But I’m really bummed I didn’t get to see the Fastest Trowel On the Block competition, so that’s a must next year. I want to stay an extra day because there were so many things inside on the showroom floor that I didn’t get to see. I’m a nerd for these things, this is so my jam! 

M.M.: Did you get to interact with any of the competitors while in the Bronze Lot? 

K.M.: I didn’t get much time to speak with the competitors but I did get the chance to chat with a few of the judges. One of who is a young lady who was judging the MCAA’s Skills Challenge. It was really cool to meet her and the other judges. I didn’t get much of a chance to geek out with much of the competitors, but next year game on! 

M.M.: You’re really excited for next year, what will you do differently? 

K.M.: I’m such a nerd. I usually go through a trade show and make flash cards of the vendors and try to organize them by their respective halls because that place is monstrously large. This way I can maximize my time. But I hope to plan better next year so I can explore the halls more.  

M.M.: Kelby Thornton was practicing for Worldskills in Russia this year in the Build your Future booth. Did you get a chance to talk with him any?  

K.M.: A bunch actually, we were very fortunate, I was able to eat dinner with him and his coach afterwards. I feel bad if I interrupt a competitor while they’re competing so I wanted to wait. They’re artists and it’s like interrupting Michaelangelo while he’s painting. But it was great getting to know him and talk with him. He’s getting ready to represent the US in masonry. I’m excited for Kelby! 

M.M.: What was your overall take on the MCAA events you attended? 

K.M.: I had the opportunity to attend a board meeting with the MCAA. You know, I respect all the crafts, and I didn’t realize all the initiatives there were doing. I didn’t know about the South of 40 Committee, which is really cool. As well as just bringing awareness to the trades, so I was just so appreciative being able to sit in on that and get the behind-the-scenes-technical side of things.  

M.M.: You mentioned workforce development being important to the industry. Can you share how you think World of Concrete can help with this? 

K.M.: Quite frankly, I think the World of Concrete has nailed the convention and trade show. They’ve brought pride and a level of honor to this industry by having competitions to show off everyone involved. By recognizing the tenders and highlighting their contributions to the masons, this has brought a lot of respect to the industry. I think this will help change the attitude about going into this industry. That alone is huge, plus they did a great job. The show was televised and they had an emcee. It’s a really active and exciting event. I think by just continuing that publicity and social media push this is going to show people that masonry is a career.  People aren’t becoming masons because they don’t have any other choices. They are choosing to be masons, they are proud of what they do, they are artists and they’re really good at it. 

M.M.: We’re glad you had such a good time your first year at World of Concrete. Thanks so much for chatting with us Kayleen.