Recap: Masonry’s 2019 Championships

Words: MASONRY Magazine, SPEC MIX Photos: Bruce Starrenburg, SPEC MIX, MASONRY Magazine 

Every year, thousands of spectators both in-person and online tune in for the action at the World of Concrete Bronze Lot. Referred to as MASONRY MADNESS® Day, the events put the skilled trade of masonry on display. The toughest, fastest, and most detail-oriented contestants are brought together in a whirlwind of events to truly find out who is the best of the year.  

The four events are: The MCAA Masonry Skills Challenge, The SPEC MIX Toughest Tender®, MCAA’s Fastest Trowel on the Block, and The SPEC MIX Bricklayer 500® World Championship. In these events, apprentices, masons, and tenders are put to the test to see who comes out on top.  

MCAA Masonry Skills Challenge 

About The Competition  

Hosted annually by the MCAA, The Masonry Skills Challenge is designed to highlight the masonry industry’s up-and-coming skilled tradespeople. Attention is placed on the beauty, skill, and lifelong career associated with masonry.  

The event was held on January 23rd, 2019 and marked the 20th year of the competition. The MCAA’s Masonry Skills Challenge is a competition of masonry apprentices in first, second, and third year skill levels. The contest is a showcase for skills training in the masonry industry, challenging winning apprentices from regional U.S. and foreign competitions to determine the top masonry apprentice at each level. This exciting competition spotlights our industry’s finest young masons and focuses attention on careers in the masonry industry. 

Bruce Starrenburg Photography for MCAA

Each contestant was presented with a project drawing appropriate to their skill level just moments before the competition began. Contestants only had three hours to construct the project based on the materials provided. The final projects looked great; the apprentices should be very proud of their three hours of hard work. The judges were impressed with the quality of the apprentices’ construction, and had the tough decision of choosing the winners. 

All winners received trophies, cash prizes, and Marshalltown Company tool bags and tools. First place winners also received engraved trowels from Marshalltown Company and boots from Iron Age Footwear. All contestants received a level from competition sponsor Stabila, a GROUT GRUNT masonry scoop, hats from Bon Tool, and additional prizes. 

Judges 

The Mason Contractors Association of America would like to thank the judges from across the country for donating their time and many combined decades of expertise in the field: 

  • Al Herndon, Florida Masonry Apprentice and Educational Foundation; Green Cove Springs, Fla. 
  • Joe Bonifate, Arch Masonry & Restoration; Pittsburgh 
  • James Brylowski, Bricklayers & Allied Craftworkers Local 2 MI; Lansing, Mich. 
  • John Chrysler, Masonry Institute of America; Torrance, Calif. 
  • Daniel Flores, BAC 4 IN/KY Apprenticeship; Warsaw, Ind. 
  • Curtis Hoover, Anne Arundel County Public Schools; Severn, Md. 
  • James Hoskinson, Lang Masonry & Restoration Contractors; Waterford, Ohio 
  • Daniel Hurley, Fraco; Baltimore 
  • John Jacob, J. Construction Co., Inc.; Cincinnati 
  • Dave Jaykins, Sargon Masonry Construction; Phoenix 
  • Eugene Johnson, Johnsons & Son Masonry; Holly Hill, S.C. 
  • Alonza Lewis; Columbia, S.C. 
  • David Malone, BAC Local 1 MN/ND; New Hope, Minn. 
  • Milton McGinnis, Vallejo Masonry; Vallejo, Calif. 
  • Reno Montoya, Bormon Construction, Inc.; Destin, Fla. 
  • Isaac Peterson, Masonry Arts Inc.; Bessemer, Ala. 
  • John Slama, BAC Local 1 MN/ND; New Hope, Minn. 
  • Mike Summers, Top Quality Masonry; Phoenix 
  • Ashton White, Gates Construction; Mooresville, N.C. 
  • Rick Williams, Williams and Sons Masonry, Inc.; El Cajon, Calif. 
  • Paula Wight, Bon Tool; Gibsonia, Pa. 
  • Jason Young, Ollier Masonry Inc.; Batesville, Ind. 

Winners 

FIRST YEAR APPRENTICES 

Bruce Starrenburg Photography for MCAA

First Place 

Mason Lovell 
Lovell’s Masonry 
Columbia, Tenn. 

Second Place 

Grant Helms 
Helms Masonry, Inc. 
Mt. Pleasant, N.C. 

Third Place 

Jacob Brooks 
Sutter Masonry, Inc. 
El Mirage, Ariz. 

SECOND YEAR APPRENTICES 

Bruce Starrenburg Photography for MCAA

First Place 

Jamison Huntley 
Huntley Brothers Co., Inc. 
Monroe, N.C. 

Second Place 

Joseph Hite 
Harris Masonry, Inc. 
Pittsburgh 

Third Place 

Mitch Kittinger 
Ohio-Kentucky Administrative District Council 
Amherst, Ohio 

THIRD YEAR APPRENTICES 

Bruce Starrenburg Photography for MCAA

First Place 

Tyler Hack 
BAC 4 IN/KY Apprenticeship Program 
Merrillville, Ind. 

Second Place 

Jonathan Weininger
Ohio-Kentucky Administrative District Council 
Amherst, Ohio 

Third Place 

Josue Sosa 
Ranch Masonry, Inc. 
Houston 

Sponsors 

The MCAA would also like to thank the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers (BAC), the International Masonry Institute (IMI), the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA), and Stabila for sponsoring the MCAA’s Masonry Skills Challenge and by providing service and/or material donations.  

CONTRIBUTORS 

  • AZ Best Block 
  • The Belden Brick Company 
  • GATORBACK, Inc. 
  • QUIKRETE 
  • SPEC MIX, LLC 

PRIZES PROVIDED BY 

  • Beeline Purchasing, LLC 
  • The Belden Brick Company 
  • Bon Tool 
  • GROUT GRUNT 
  • Iron Age Footwear 
  • Marshalltown Company 
  • SPEC MIX, LLC 
  • Stabila 

ABOUT THE MCAA’S MASONRY SKILLS CHALLENGE 

The Masonry Skills Challenge is hosted annually by the MCAA as part of MASONRY MADNESS® during the MCAA Convention at the World of Concrete/World of Masonry in Las Vegas. This exciting competition highlights our industry’s finest young masons and focuses attention on careers in the masonry industry. 

The 2020 MCAA Masonry Skills Challenge will be held Wednesday, February 5, 2020 during the MCAA Convention at the World of Concrete/World of Masonry in Las Vegas. To see more photos from this competition please visit https://bstarrenburg.smugmug.com/2019-MCAA-MASONRY-CHALLENGE/n-vkPDmC.

For more information about the competition, please visit  www.masonryskillschallenge.com

MCAA Fastest Trowel on the Block 

About The Competition 

On the job, teamwork is critical. In the Fastest Trowel on the Block competition, the same holds true. With just 20 minutes on the clock, the speed and skill of mason-and-tender teams are put on full display for the thousands of spectators who come to see the event. The goal of the competition is for each team to build as much of a 30-foot long wall as possible using 8”X8”X16” CMU and the provided mortar in the time allotted. Not just about speed, this competition was also judged on the level of craftsmanship, and use of standard masonry practices and tools.  

Each mason worked quickly to build a quality wall, while the crowd cheered them on throughout the twenty-minute competition. After the judges completed their scoring, the results were announced. 

Bruce Starrenburg Photography for MCAA

Winners were presented with trophies, plus first place took home $8,000, a special trophy from Marshalltown, boots from Iron Age Footwear, and a 10-pack of mortar boards from GATORBACK; second place received $2,500; and $1,500 was awarded to third place. Cash prizes were provided by SPEC MIX, LLC. All winners received a Marshalltown tool bag and tools, and additional prizes. All contestants received a level from competition sponsor Stabila, a Marshalltown tool bag, safety glasses from Beeline Purchasing, LLC, and a GROUT GRUNT masonry scoop. 

Judges

The MCAA would like to thank the judges from across the country for donating their time and many decades of expertise in the field: 

  • Nick Gonzales, Sunnyside Masonry, LLC; Peoria, Ariz. 
  • John Ambach, Ambach Masonry Construction, Inc.; Sorrento, Fla. 
  • Mike Canez III, Atlas Masonry; Phoenix 
  • Robert Collins, BrickMasons Apprenticeship; Arcadia, Calif. 
  • Ron Gaylord, GP Masonry & Concrete of Ocala; Ocala, Fla. 
  • Bill Greco, T. Hansen Construction; Papillion, Neb. 
  • Scott Guilbault, Fraco USA, Inc.; Warren, Mich. 
  • Brandon Hartsell, Gates Construction Company, Inc.; Mooresville, N.C. 
  • Chick Hatton, Fraco; Baltimore 
  • Dan Hiltebeitel, Retired; Honey Brook, Pa. 
  • Robert Jacabacci, Bullard-Havens Technical High School; Bridgeport, Conn. 
  • Patrick Martin, CDCR-State of California/SCC-Sierra Conservation Center; Jamestown, Calif. 
  • Kevin Potter, Bricklayers & Allied Craftworkers Local 2 NY/VT; Albany, N.Y. 
  • Phillip Samblanet, The Masonry Society; Longmont, Colo. 
  • Melvin Schwendeman, Lang Masonry and Restoration Contractors; Waterford, Ohio 
  • Steve Sianez, BrickMasons Apprenticeship; Arcadia, Calif. 
  • Tom Vacala, Restore Masonry LLC; Chicago 
  • Terry Watts, True Bond Masonry, LLC; Doyline, La. 
  • Reggie Wilson, WDP Construction Group, Inc.; Ft. Worth, Texas 

Winners

Bruce Starrenburg Photography for MCAA

FIRST PLACE 

Gerardo Patlan 
Adams Fence LLC 
Phoenix 
Tender:  Roberto Patlan 
Block Count: 133 

Gerardo Patlan placed first in the 2017 MCAA Fastest Trowel on the Block competition and second in 2018. 

SECOND PLACE 


Noe Martinez 
Curran Masonry Corporation 
Chandler, Ariz. 
Tender: David Puga 
Block Count: 130 

Noe Martinez placed first in the 2016 MCAA Fastest Trowel on the Block competition, and third in 2017 and 2018. 

THIRD PLACE 

Jose Soto 
Sargon Masonry 
Phoenix 
Tender:  Tomas Quinonez 
Block Count: 129 

Sponsors 

The MCAA would also like to thank the National Concrete Masonry Association (NCMA) and Stabila for sponsoring the MCAA’s Fastest Trowel on the Block competition, and give a special thank you to the sponsors and service/material donors for their contributions including: 

CONTRIBUTORS 

  • AZ Best Block 
  • GATORBACK, Inc. 
  • QUIKRETE 
  • SPEC MIX, LLC 

PRIZES PROVIDED BY 

  • Beeline Purchasing, LLC 
  • GATORBACK, Inc. 
  • GROUT GRUNT 
  • Iron Age Footwear 
  • Marshalltown Company 
  • SPEC MIX, LLC 
  • Stabila 

ABOUT THE MCAA’S FASTEST TROWEL ON THE BLOCK 

The MCAA’s Fastest Trowel on the Block is hosted annually by the MCAA as part of MASONRY MADNESS® during the MCAA Convention at the World of Concrete/World of Masonry in Las Vegas. The competition is a showcase of industry craftsmanship and a testament of both the speed and skill of our industry’s workforce. 

Bruce Starrenburg Photography for MCAA

The 2020 MCAA Fastest Trowel on the Block will be held Wednesday, February 5, 2020 during the MCAA Convention at the World of Concrete/World of Masonry in Las Vegas. For more photos from this competition visit https://bstarrenburg.smugmug.com/2019-MCAA-FASTEST-TROWEL-ON-THE-BLOCK/n-FpbJbr.

For more information about the competition and to register, please visit  www.fastesttrowel.com

SPEC MIX Toughest Tender® / SPEC MIX Bricklayer 500® World Championship 

In front of the largest crowd in the 17-year history of the SPEC MIX BRICKLAYER 500® World Championship (See Photos), Mason Mario Alves of A & M Masonry in Hamilton, Ontario won big. Mario claimed the crown “World’s Best Bricklayer.” After 60-minutes of laying bricks against 26 other world-class masons, the 30-year-old put up a wall with a brick count of 760 perfect brick that earned him a 2019 Ford F-250 XLT 4×4 truck, an Essick EM120 HYD mortar mixer on top of $10,000 in cash and prizes. It was his third time qualifying for the championship event in Las Vegas. With the help of his brother mason tender Michael Alves, Mario delivered his best performance in an arena packed with thousands of spectators.  

Of the 27 bricklayers and mason tender teams that competed for the event’s $125,000 purse, Mason Darian Douthit with Providence Masonry, Fairland, OK claimed the next highest-ranking title, the SPEC MIX TOP CRAFTSMAN®. The event veteran claimed a 2019 John Deere GatorTM XUV 835 and another $10,000 in cash and prizes for his efforts.  

Bruce Starrenburg Photography for MCAA

Darian (age 47) laid 537 perfect brick which a 30-judge panel agreed was the “most sellable” wall. A mason for over 30 years he also won the TOP CRAFTSMAN® title back in 2016. Darian’s mason tender was Andy Zepeda.  

Standing beside first place and craftsman in the winners’ circle, second place honors went to Cole Stamper of Mason Structure in Lexington, KY. A mason for 20 years, Cole laid 749 brick with no deductions to win $4,000 and over $1,500 in sponsor prizes. His mason tender was Jeff Becker.  

Rounding out the pool of winners was third place Juan Cabral of Phoenix Masonry in Denver, CO. Juan (36) laid 732 brick to claim a check for $3,000 plus $1,500 in prizes. Juan’s mason tender was Jose Limon.  

Kicking off the bricklaying action was the SPEC MIX TOUGHEST TENDER® competition. Twenty-seven mason tenders raced to stage all the materials used during the bricklaying event. Mason tender Charlie Cheatham with United Masonry in Cleveland, OH was named TOUGHEST TENDER, and collected a check for $2,500 and $1,500 in prizes. Charlie recorded a winning time of 13 minutes 52 seconds (WR – 11 minutes 7 second, set in 2005). Established to show the value a mason tender brings to a mason, it’s a crowd favorite that tests the speed, endurance and accuracy of a skilled laborer.  

Bruce Starrenburg Photography for MCAA

Commonly referred to as the “Super Bowl of Masonry,” the bricklaying battle took place on Wednesday, January 23th in the heart of the Masonry Madness® Day arena at the World of Concrete trade show in Las Vegas. Before a bricklayer is eligible to compete in the SPEC MIX BRICKLAYER 500® World Championship, each competitor must qualify by winning their Regional Series competition. This earns them a shot at taking down the returning Champion or SPEC MIX TOP CRAFTSMAN® title holders.  

The SPEC MIX BRICKLAYER 500® initiative was created in 2003 to promote masonry construction while accentuating the craftsmanship, pride, and passion that masons dedicate to their work. It’s also a means for SPEC MIX®, its sponsors and supporters, to give back to the masonry trade and strengthen its future. Over the years the event has evolved into an industry movement that is used as a tool for recruiting skilled labor and workforce development programs. The fierce competition, quality of craftsmanship, and the growing annual crowds, is evidence that the SPEC MIX BRICKLAYER 500® is uniting the industry and infusing energy into a craft that commands respect and admiration.  

Bruce Starrenburg Photography for MCAA

FIRST PLACE CASH & PRIZES 

  • 2019 Ford F-250 4×4 XLT Super Duty Truck  
  • $5,000 check from SPEC MIX®  
  • Essick EM120YD Mortar Mixer  
  • STIHL TSA 230 battery-powered cut-off machine, 9” wheel, AR 900 battery, AL 500 high-speed charger  
  • iQ POWER TOOLS 360 Table Saw Set, Rolling Table, Smart Cart and a 14” Silent Blade  
  • BLAKLADER $1000 gift certificate  
  • STABILA Custom Trophy 24” level and plaque  
  • MARSHALLTOWN Ceremonial Trophy Trowel & loaded SPEC MIX BRICKLAYER 500® tool bag  
  • GATORBACK Mortarboards – 10 pack  
  • SPEC MIX BRICKLAYER 500 World Champion Jacket & 1st Place Trophy from SPEC MIX  

SPEC MIX TOUGHEST TENDER CASH & PRIZES 

  • $2,500 check & SPEC MIX TOUGHEST TENDER® Trophy from SPEC MIX  
  • STIHL $700 Product Certificate  
  • iQ POWER TOOLS $200 iQ gift pack, jacket, and 3 saw blades  
  • BLAKLADER $500 Gift Certificate  
  • MARSHALLTOWN loaded SPEC MIX BRICKLAYER 500® tool bag.  

SECOND PLACE CASH & PRIZES 

  • $4,000 Check & 2nd Place trophy from SPEC MIX®  
  • STIHL TSA 230 battery-powered cut-off machine, 9” wheel, AP 300 battery, AL 500 high-speed charger  
  • iQ POWER TOOLS $200 iQ gift pack and jacket  
  • BLAKLADER $500 gift certificate  
  • STABILA Custom Trophy 24” level and plaque  
  • MARSHALLTOWN loaded SPEC MIX BRICKLAYER 500® tool bag  
  • GATORBACK Mortarboards – 10 pack  

THIRD PLACE CASH & PRIZES 

  • $3,000 Check & 3rd Place trophy from SPEC MIX  
  • STIHL $700 product certificate  
  • iQ POWER TOOLS $200 iQ gift pack, jacket, and 3 saw blades  
  • BLAKLADER $250 gift certificate  
  • STABILA Custom Trophy 24” level and plaque  
  • MARSHALLTOWN loaded SPEC MIX BRICKLAYER 500® tool bag.  
  • GATORBACK Mortarboards – 10 pack  

SPEC MIX TOP CRAFTSMAN CASH & PRIZES 

  • $5,000 Check and SPEC MIX TOP CRAFTSMAN® Trophy from SPEC MIX  
  • John Deere GatorTM XUV835 Crossover Utility Vehicle  
  • STIHL TSA 230 battery-powered cut-off machine, 9” abrasive wheel, AP 300 battery, AL 500 high-speed charger  
  • iQ POWER TOOLS iQPC912 and 3 saw blades  
  • BLAKLADER $1000 gift certificate  
  • STABILA Custom Trophy 24” level and plaque  
  • MARSHALLTOWN Ceremonial trophy trowel & loaded SPEC MIX BRICKLAYER 500® tool bag  
  • GATORBACK Mortarboards – 10 pack  
Bruce Starrenburg Photography for MCAA

The SPEC MIX BRICKLAYER 500 initiative was created to give back to the masonry trade and has expanded in many positive aspects. Regardless of its growth the event remains laser-focused on achieving its original goals of uniting the masonry industry and putting the craft’s artisans on the world’s stage. It’s also taken on the role as the masonry industry’s top marketing campaign, frequently leveraged by industry professionals to infuse a strong sense of pride within its craftsmen, as well as masonry instructors using it as a tool to recruit young adults and individuals looking to start a new career.  

Sponsors 

 The 2019 SPEC MIX BRICKLAYER 500® World Championship appreciates the support of its outstanding sponsors who help promote the craftsmanship of masons and the masonry construction industry.  

PLATINUM LEVEL 

SPEC MIX® 
QUIKRETE® Companies Ford Commercial Vehicles Hydro Mobile  

John Deere 
Hohmann & Barnard, Inc. The Belden Brick Company Multiquip, Inc. 
STABILA  

GOLD LEVEL  

Blaklader 
iQ Power Tools MARSHALLTOWN MCAA 
Prism Pigments STIHL Inc.  

CONTRIBUTOR LEVEL  

Best Block 
Easy-Spred® 
GATORBACK® 
Jackson & Razor Back Tools Safway® Scaffold  

Xtreme Manufacturing  

SPEC MIX BRICKLAYER 500® WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP & SPEC MIX TOUGHEST TENDER®  

Visit www.specmixbricklayer500.com or go to The 2019 SPEC MIX BRICKLAYER 500 World Championship Digital Magazine that will give you a history and background of the Regional and World Championship competition program. For more photos from this competition please visit https://bstarrenburg.smugmug.com/2019-MCAA-BRICKLAYER-500/n-frJG7R.