NMIA’s 30th Anniversary Recap

Words: Steven Fechino  
Photos: Curtis Hoover 

The National Masonry Instructors association celebrated its 30th anniversary and annual conference at the location where it originated, the Landmark Hotel in Myrtle Beach. The National Masonry Instructors Association (NMIA) began as a way for masonry trades instructors, both secondary and post-secondary to meet and coordinate teaching methods, curriculum and content that masonry students and apprentices receive prior to entering the workforce.  

The collaboration between the education community, construction and manufacturing industry has proven a successful partnership over the years. The industry partnership offers new products and technology that is taught to the instructors informing them of the progress that is made within the trade each year.  

The NMIA was established in 1989 and is open to all active and retired Masonry Instructors and masonry industry partners that contribute daily to this trade. A Masonry Hall of Fame was created to honor and acknowledge individual members at both the teaching and industry levels who have rendered extraordinary service to the industry. 

The NMIA offers a three-day conference the second week in July each year and is open to instructors and industry partners to discuss many of the challenges that are common in today’s educational environment. Presentations provided by many of the top masonry manufacturers showcased details, improvements and availability of products, systems and equipment that the schools may use, purchase or promote in the school year ahead. Many manufacturers have built relationships with the teaching facility’s and instructors making presentations directly to the students throughout the year.  

The NMIA has three individuals that have received the highest honor that the Masonry Contractors Association of America (MCAA) has to offer, the MCAA Hall of Fame. Milton Young, Curtis Hoover and Alonza Lewis. We are proud of their accomplishments as many young masons can thank these fine gentlemen for the training, they received in order for them to be able to make a career in the masonry trades. 

This year the NMIA named three new inductees into the Hall of Fame. Dana Martini, Superior clay products, Uhrichsville, Ohio, was inducted as the industry partner. Tim Kidd, Instructor from West Stanley High School, Oakboro, North Carolina and Eugene Johnson who taught at Lake Marion High School in South Carolina were inducted during the awards ceremony and dinner banquet.  

Many industry sponsors attended the event: Mortar Net Solutions, Bon Tool Company, Stabila, NCCER, IQ Equipment, South Carolina Masonry Association, Argos, North Carolina Masonry Contractors Association, Spec Mix/Quikrete, Exact Match Masonry Staining, Superior Clay Products, Marshalltown Tools, Brodie Contractors, McGee Brothers, Masonry Contractors Association of America, Holcim Cement Co., Giant Cement Co., Brick Southeast, Brick Association of the Carolinas, Carolina Concrete Masonry Association, Wasco, Inc, Henry Brick Co. Thank you for the continued support. 

This year Mortar Net Solutions gave four partial apprentice scholarships to students of need within the industry continuing a long tradition in supporting the masonry trades. Recipients this year included students from Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina and Alabama. If you are interested in a student for consideration in next year’s scholarships program, please contact Steven Fechino at sfechino@mortarnet.com or visit Mortar Net Solutions in the Bronze lot at the 2020 World of Concrete. Look for the guy in the cowboy hat. 

The NMIA needs support and from instructors and industry across the country, though we are 30 years old, we are constantly growing in numbers and improving in content. Please consider joining the NMIA as an instructor or an industry supplier as the trade will benefit from the support. Trade craftsmen numbers are lower than the industry requires, turning out well trained journeymen is a critical step in our trades success. Please consider supporting us. 

In closing I want to share a powerful statement that was shared by an amazing young woman who clearly understands what masonry instruction is all about. Eugene Johnson’s Daughter, Bridgette shared a conversation with one of Eugene’s previous students, Larry Butler, and put the masonry Instructors mission into perfect wording, wording that can carry over into all aspects of the trade.  

She shared a note that was presented during Eugene’s retirement dinner, “I’m grateful that i was able to pay my respects to your father for the contributions and sacrifices that’s he’s made to the education system. It’s a blessing truly. Your father and I have a bond that no one will ever be able to grasp. It’s beyond just being a mentor. It’s spiritual. A brick was created for purpose and so is mankind. It takes a special, skilled, craftsman to guide a brick to its ultimate purpose and that is to become something more than a brick. Your father had a hand in guiding my life and it will forever be appreciated. I’m that brick.” ~Larry Butler, Class of 1999 (Holly Hill-Roberts High School). Though only a few mentors have this impact, this is why we teach the trades.