Words: MASONRY Magazine
Photos: April Ruiz, Seth Schiavo, Chris Labrie, and Max Berry
In the 2020 edition of Young Professionals of the Year, we selected four of our favorite interviews that we have conducted throughout the course of the year. Out of the many series that we run at MASONRY Magazine, this and GEN NXT are our favorites to put together. We love discovering and learning more about the backstories behind the future members of the masonry industry.
As you know, we are hoping to shed some light on the experiences of the incoming generation of masons and suppliers, while at the same time share some advice for those entering into this workforce. Despite the challenges we faced as a result of the pandemic, we still conducted six excellent interviews in 2020. As we look forward to 2021, we decided we should recap a few of our most memorable interviews with some of these wonderful and talented professionals to end the year on a high note.
In the April installation of the GEN NXT series, we had the opportunity to talk with 2020 Masonry Skills Challenge contestant April Ruiz. April is currently finishing off her apprenticeship with Masonry Industry Training Association (MITA) and has been working within the masonry industry since 2016. She is a proud wife and mother who is not letting anything stop her from accomplishing her goals within the industry. April’s unique story stood out to us as she described completing her senior year while at work and showed up to the graduation ceremony in her work clothes to accept her diploma.
April got her start in high school, she chose masonry in her Sophomore year and the trade helped to change her life, keep her out of trouble, and with the right crowd. She has dedicated her life to the masonry industry and cannot wait to see what her future holds. April sees herself working on the wall next year following the completion of her hands-on apprenticeship with MITA. Her biggest piece of advice is to keep your head in the game and do not let negativity get to you, let it drive you. If you missed April’s interview and story, be sure to check it out online at www.masonrymagazine.com or in the April World of Concrete Recap issue.
We had the opportunity to interview Max Berry for the June installation of this series. Max caught our attention on social media after he shared some stunning photos of a recently completed project, and we had to learn more. Max is the Foreman of DS Masonry in Chandler, Arizona, and loves working with his step-father in their family business, which has been in operation since the early 1990s. He attended Pueblo East High School and started college with his sights on a degree as a doctor. It only took one summer working alongside his stepfather to help him realize how much he enjoyed working with his hands, and for Max, the rest was history.
He then transferred to the International Masonry Institute in Maryland and has since competed in several masonry competitions, placing in a few as well, including third place in the International Masonry Competition which he considers to be his greatest accomplishment. He also went to Las Vegas for the Apprentice Contest in 2017 and 2018, placing fifth both times. When looking ahead, Max has set his sights on becoming a journeyman in the near future. He is incredibly motivated to succeed and is invested in his continued success in the masonry industry. We are sure this is not the last we will see of Max Berry. If you would like to read more of Max’s story be sure to check it out online at www.masonrymagazine.com or in the June issue of MASONRY Magazine.
In the August GEN NXT interview, we sat down and talked with Seth Schiavo, a college student awaiting graduation to start his apprenticeship. Seth attended Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology where he studied within both the carpentry and the masonry programs. He received his Associate’s Degree in May 2020. Seth was afforded the opportunity to create many different projects while he completed his degree, especially fireplaces as he was able to work on more than one style of fireplaces. He is looking forward to working on a jobsite in his apprenticeship.
Seth’s biggest piece of advice for anyone looking to get into the masonry industry is to do it, there are so many opportunities to grow within the industry. He was an apprentice at two different companies during his time at Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology, where he was able to see both sides of the business commercially and residentially. Seth sees himself being a journeyman bricklayer in five years and is looking forward to the experience. If you missed Seth’s story be sure to check it out at www.masonrymagazine.com or the August issue of MASONRY Magazine.
We talked with Chris Labrie of Labrie Construction Inc. for our October GEN NXT series. Chris is a young brick mason and entrepreneur in Orlando, Florida who started his business three years ago when he was 20 years old. He followed in his father and uncle’s footsteps and became a mason because he loves to work with his hands and see his projects stand the test of time. Chris competed in the SPEC MIX Bricklayer 500® last year and has plans to compete as much as he can in the future.
Labrie Construction Inc. is something Chris is very proud of and his company has grown since its inception. His work can range from residential construction to larger commercial projects at one of the most famous amusement parks in Florida. Chris’s determination and willingness to be as successful as he can be by starting his own business is what will keep him interested in the masonry industry. He believes that in order to grow the workforce there has to be someone there to bridge the gap between the older generation and the younger generation. His biggest piece of advice is to do it, there is so much room for growth and the ability to work on different jobs every week. Be sure to check out Chris’s story in the October issue of the magazine or on www.masonrymagazine.com.
We would like to thank all of our GEN NXT interviewees of 2020. This certainly is not everyone we had the opportunity of talking with, but are four of our favorites. If you do not see your favorite interview here be sure to check MASONRY Magazine at www.masonrymagazine.com. If you know a young professional in the industry we should interview, feel free to email Bronzella Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org or Cassandra Stern at email@example.com. We hope you enjoyed all of these interviews as much as we enjoyed conducting them.