2020 Year In Review

2020 Year In Review

Words: MASONRY Magazine 
Photos: Alexsi, Anyaberkut, Extracker Software, IPGGutenbergUKLtd, LeslieLauren, linephoto, matspersson0, Matthew Filstead, MCAA, MoMorad,  Natnan Srisuwan, Protectiflex LLC and Enviromate Ltd, SPEC MIX, Swede Melgaard, Tekla Trimble

Intro 

2020 was a year unlike any other. The COVID-19 pandemic dominated mainstream media, and here at Masonry Magazine we certainly covered this topic as often as we could to ensure our readership has easy access to vital information to keep them safe. Fortunately, COVID-19 did not stop us in our tracks, and in addition to this coverage, we were also able to report on a variety of interesting subjects, interview many incredible experienced masonry professionals, and enjoy bringing our readers interesting, lighthearted, and informative content the whole year through. 

We are particularly excited for this 2020 Year in Review because we can revisit some of our favorite highlights, most popular articles, and most importantly, some incredible technological innovations that will likely change the masonry industry forever. The articles in this Year in Review were the bright spots of 2020 at MASONRY Magazine, and we hope they do the same for you. We look forward to starting 2021 with a renewed focus on our goals and remain committed to providing you with the most accurate and up to date information through both our print and digital publications. 

Industry

As the leading voice of the masonry industry in North America, MASONRY Magazine has a particular responsibility to focus on identifying and reporting on emerging trends. Through data analysis, interviews with experienced professionals, and often extensive research, these industry articles cover a wide range of topics, ideas, and information. For those looking to stay on top of any developments within the masonry industry, these are the “Can’t-Miss” articles of 2020 for you. 

How Masonry Consumes Social Media Pt. 1 and 2. 

These benchmark surveys sought to glean an in-depth look at how masonry professionals and those involved in the masonry industry consume social media, and the results were eye-opening. While the data set was incredibly dense, we were able to capture strong results from a diverse audience of masonry professionals and distill the most important findings into two Whitepaper studies that were released in 2020. While some results were as expected, others revealed that many opportunities and advantages still await the masonry industry when it comes to unlocking the successful potential of social media. 

For example, survey results indicate that unsurprisingly, a large percentage of both career mason and owner/managers of mason contracting companies use Facebook, but it was surprising to learn that LinkedIn actually performed pretty poorly with both groups. Another interesting finding was that while career masons spend slightly longer engaging with social media on average over owners/managers of mason contracting companies, both groups are likely to spend a minimum amount of one hour on a variety of social media platforms. For more information, insights, and conclusions, you definitely will want to check out both parts of this survey series. 

World of Concrete Recap 

World of Concrete is easily one of the most anticipated events of the year, and this year wasn’t any different. The convention was held February 3-7th, 2020 in Las Vegas and although the weather was a bit on the colder side, the turnout certainly didn’t deter attendees from coming out to participate and spectate. Events like South of 40, MASONRY MADNESS®, and the Masonry Hall of Fame Banquet had record numbers in attendance and everyone had a great time.

Since World of Concrete is such a big event we provided our readers with two recap articles to give you a better idea of what the convention was like, especially if you couldn’t make it out to Las Vegas. With the convention being in February, you can find all the recap information in our April issue. Be sure to check them out if you missed them this year or if you want to reread some of your favorite articles from that issue! 

Honoring Their Legacies — The 2020 Masonry Hall of Fame Interviews

This year, we sat down with four Masonry Hall of Fame inductees at World of Concrete and were able to learn their stories and what they’ve experienced while working in the masonry industry. We were honored to interview Brian Carney, Mark Kemp, Doug Drye, and Paul Hoggatt before the closing banquet at the close of the MCAA Convention. Each interview was recorded and is available online for everyone to view. We also shared their interviews in April, the World of Concrete Recap issue. 

Each inductee shared their experiences, funny stories, and what their legacies are. Being able to talk with four very accomplished industry professionals was just one of the amazing experiences we are afforded every year. We cannot congratulate Brian, Mark, Doug, and Paul enough — and if you missed their interviews be sure to check them out at www.masonrymagazine.com

Building Walls Behind Bars: A Closer Look at the FDOC CTE Masonry Program

The United States has a prison problem. As of this writing, there are approximately 2.3 million people incarcerated out of 328 million, and as of June 2020, the United States had the highest prison rate out of any developed nation with 655 prisoners per 100,000 of the national population according to the Prison Policy Initiative. These numbers are staggering, but even more worrisome is a recent Department of Justice report, which details how on average 68% of prisoners released from a US prison will be rearrested for a new crime within 3 years, 79% within 6 years, and 83% within 9 years. The problems of a broken prison system are not new, but few are working harder to change these sobering statistics than Swede Melgaard, Career & Technical Education Programs Administrator of the Office of Programs and Re-Entry for the Florida Department of Corrections. 

“Building Walls Behind Bars” takes a look at not just the facts, but at the very people and the lives changed forever through the opportunities afforded by the FDOC Masonry CTE Program. Participants are literally given a second chance at life through the program, and are not only provided with training and tools, but also resume and job building skills, encouragement, and support they may have never before experienced. Studies have shown time and time again that by investing in people, people can then be prepared to invest in themselves, and the FDOC Masonry CTE Program is absolute proof. This program and the many men and women who donate their time, money, and resources to keep it running are true heroes and deserve to be recognized for their tireless efforts. If you love feel-good stories, this one is definitely worth the read. You can find the full story in the May issue of MASONRY. 

ProtectiFlex Masonry Up To The Challenge

Masonry is known for being resilient and withstanding the test of time. We wanted to shed some light on what certain procedures look like that ensure masonry materials are truly resilient to the natural elements, ballistic testing, blast testing, and more. ProtectiFlex provided us with an informative article on their block product that resists blast, blastic, forced entry, fire, seismic loads, and more. This particular material testing article featured statistical information on ProtectiFlex’s heavy concrete block and how they withstand the rigorous testing procedures. 

Every year we try to provide the most up to date information on what is going on in the masonry industry, of the many topics we cover material testing is an important one. So if you didn’t get a chance to read this article in the October issue, be sure to check it out now.

Midyear Recap 

This year, the MCAA’s Midyear Meeting was held in French Lick, Indiana in the historic French Lick Resort. Aside from the city having an unforgettable name, it’s the hometown of NBA star Larry Bird and has a rich history to speak of. As done every year, attendees had the opportunity to take part in the activities in the surrounding city. Activities ranged from bike riding, golfing, horseback riding, and wine tasting at the French Lick Winery. 

In addition to the fun activities available to the attendees, the Masonry Foundation meeting took place, contractor round table discussion, the Safety Advantage awards were given, and a new twist the Speed Dating event, turning it into a hands-on experience. Everything was done with the pandemic requirements in mind. This recap was featured in the November issue of masonry and can also be found at www.masonrymagazine.com

Masonry Gives Back: Bricks, Blocks, and Bags for Bikes 

It’s the time of year for giving thanks, sharing love, and gifting presents. With so much uncertainty in the world, this is a great opportunity to step back and reflect on what is truly important in life, and the positive changes we want to make both in ourselves and in the world around us. Trey Harris and Brain Carney of SPEC MIX, Greg Hutchinson of Quikrete, and hundreds of other masonry professionals in the state of Texas embody this giving spirit every year with their Bricks, Blocks, and Bags for Bikes charity initiative. 

Last year, they were able to come together with the masonry community and raise $50,000 which was used to provide bikes for 2,000 needy children in the Dallas-Fort Worth area ranging from small children to teenagers. These bikes not only provide entertainment and an opportunity for these recipients to exercise and play with friends, but can also serve as transportation to and from school, work, and other activities. Bricks, Blocks, and Bags for Bikes have helped thousands of children in just a few short years, and organizers have no intention of slowing down as long as there are children in need. This touching story was one of our most popular this year and is a testament to the masonry industry’s commitment to giving back to their surrounding communities. Miss this story? You can find it in the January issue of the magazine. 

Innovations of the Year

Fire. The wheel. Steam engines. The telephone. The Internet. What do all of these things have in common? Their invention changed the landscape of human existence forever- and technology only continues to advance at an ever-increasing pace. The masonry industry is no different, and despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, masonry professionals are continuing to work harder than ever to develop innovative new technologies that will keep masons safer, make work more efficient, and improve the lives of industry professionals all over the world. 2020 saw some exciting new changes and we are proud to have covered them all throughout the course of the year. Although this subject can be controversial at times, we think you’ll enjoy learning and reading about some of the new ways masonry is evolving to meet the demands of the future. 

Drones In Construction – Easier. Better. Faster. Safer. 

Drone operated by construction worker on building site,flying with drone.

The use of technology in our day-to-day routines seems to be a new norm. The same can be said for the construction industry, especially when it comes to using drones. The use of this particular piece of technology can help to map out high-rise buildings, larger projects, and more. Our Software & Apps series focuses on all topics that have a technology center, we took a look at how the use of drones in construction has grown since inception. 

Having the ability to see things on a larger scale, or with an overhead view can potentially be the difference between estimating a project or properly crafting a plan of action for a restoration job. The opportunities are endless when it comes to incorporating technology into the construction world. 

Extracker Software 

Digital Laptop Working Global Business Concept

One of the most exciting developments in the masonry industry over the last decade, in particular, has been a surge of different software created and adapted for the unique needs of the construction industry. One such software, Extracker, is said to be particularly suited for masons and mason contracting companies because of its versatility, user-friendly operating interface, and clever solutions to common industry issues related to time and cost tracking. As a point solution created to work between ERP systems, Extracker can be used to help generate, log, track, and share costs between contractors through a smartphone mobile app, which then allows project stakeholders to visualize real-time cost exposure on a real-time basis. 

Extracker developers identified a variety of processes that could use improvements and set out to create a means of solving those issues. The result offers a way to reduce paperwork and immediately identify any budgetary discrepancies, shortfalls, or other fluctuations. The service is free to use and allows mason contracting companies to protect both themselves and their clients with time-stamped photos of completed work segments or requested changes for clarification. 

Integrating BIM-M into Business 

In a field where precision is key to success, the lack of quality, coordinated, and timely information can cause a serious challenge to mason contractors. Miscommunications, miscalculations, and other unfortunate mistakes can and do happen more frequently than many would care to admit, and consequences range from a delay in work for corrective action to a complete derailment of the project timeline due to egregious error. Perhaps the most unfortunate aspect of this issue is the fact that it can now be prevented with the use of Building Information Modeling for Masonry (BIM-M) software, which can help mason contractors who plan and place concrete materials. 

With the correct BIM-M software and the ability to operate it properly, masons can virtually build data-driven models that can be leveraged throughout the construction process. One type of particularly useful software, Tekla Structures, is a purpose-built tool specifically designed for constructability in the construction industry, especially for mason contractors. Another useful software, Trimble Connect, provides mason contractors with the ability to share models across different teams from office to field, getting real-time feedback from clients and architects alike. The opportunities afforded by BIM-M are seemingly endless, but only for those who invest in the time and training to learn how to use them. Take the first step and enjoy this introductory look at BIM-M software. 

Safety

Safety is arguably the most important topic that we cover in MASONRY Magazine. From up-to-date information regarding OSHA’s latest regulations to health and proper precautions masonry professionals can take on the jobsite, safety is, and should always be a top priority. This year’s top safety articles include interviews with top industry safety experts with years of experience and covers a wide range of topics including workplace safety, dressing and preparing properly for any weather condition, and the correct use of PPE. While this information can at times seem common-sense, advice, and recommendations that can keep even one person safe is always time and effort well spent. 

Mitigating the Hazards of Working in the Heat

Tired construction worker wiping forehead at site

This was the first part of a two-part series on heat safety. Guest Writer Jim Rogers provided us with an extensive overview of how heat affects the body while working. As well as providing ways to prevent heatstroke and other heat-related ailments to ensure everyone gets home safely at night. While working in heat comes can be seasonal for some regions in the US, there are other states that endure warm weather conditions all year round. It was our goal to shed light on the best ways to prevent and protect masons from the potential harm that heat can cause. 

Hearing Protection/Saw Safety 

Ear Protectors for workers in the heavy industry

Sometimes it’s easy to overlook ear protection or ignore proper saw safety precautions to make work easier or move more efficiently. Unfortunately, when these crucial protections are skipped over, it can lead to serious, disastrous, or even deadly results. It may seem worth the risk at the time, but long-term hearing damage is always permanent and is always a challenge. In this informative article, MASONRY Magazine spoke to Zach Everett, Corporate Safety Director at Brazos Masonry and long-time industry professional about some of the easiest ways to protect hearing during the workday, and particularly the best methods of personal protective practices during the pandemic. This article includes a quick and easy bulleted list of tips and tricks to help protect your hearing, and are definitely worth listening to. 

Do’s and Don’ts of Scaffold Safety 

Construction worker setting up scaffolding.

Working at towering heights comes easier to some than others, but for masons, working at height is at times a necessity to complete the project at hand. This requires intense amounts of focus, concentration, and at times routine safety protocols can be difficult to remember at the moment when 50-100 ft. in the air. Scaffolding is designed to be as safe as possible, but to ensure both personal safety and the safety of all crew members, the do’s and don’ts of scaffold safety should be observed at all times. This article breaks scaffolding safety down into easy to digest bullet points and is a great read for both new masons and experienced masonry professionals alike. 

COVID-19 Toolbox Talk

The pandemic has changed our everyday lives and procedures. So in the May issue, we wanted to dedicate an issue and provide as much information as possible as well as effective ways to comply with the mandates for safety protocols to protect everyone from potentially contracting COVID-19. This particular Toolbox Talk provides safety precautions, procedures, and a breakdown of what COVID-19 is and how it is contracted. You can brush up on the procedures, tips, and precautions in the May issue of MASONRY or visit the COVID-19 Resource Hub at www.masoncontractors.org/2020/03/25/covid-19-coronavirus-comprehensive-resource-list/.   

COVID-19 Checklist 

In addition to the Toolbox Talk, we provided a checklist for companies to use to have the most important information on-hand when prepping for the day or job. It provides a list of symptoms, employer/employee responsibilities, and cleaning requirements for workspaces. While we may not know when this pandemic will end, we can make sure to protect ourselves and businesses. For more information check out the May issue of the magazine, or visit www.masoncontractors.org/2020/03/25/covid-19-coronavirus-comprehensive-resource-list/

Top Stories of the Year

Selecting our Top Stories of the Year is never an easy task when so many excellent articles are vying for our attention, but this year, we were able to come to a decision more quickly than in years past. Behind each of these articles are a very special experience, a committed team of masonry professionals, and the dedication to building a dream and seeing it through to reality. Each of these articles represents something truly unique or profound to the masonry industry, and we are excited to honor them as 2020’s Top Stories of the Year. 

American Treasure: Getty Museum 

Los Angeles, United States – August 3, 2013: J. Paul Getty Museum Central Garden created by artist Robert Irwin as viewed from above in Los Angeles California.

Our American Treasure series is one of the editorial team’s favorites because we learn so much about buildings and landmarks in the US that we didn’t know before. One of our favorite buildings this year was the Getty Museum in California. Aside from being the home of tons of beautiful art and information, it is built with masonry and had withstood the wildfires of the area. We had the opportunity to go onsite to photograph the campus, get 3D rendering images, and more. 

If you haven’t had the chance to read our American Treasure series or this particular installation be sure to do so at www.masonrymagazine.com or check out the March issue for the full story and the amazing photos we have. 

Exoskeleton 

Fraco’s Exoskeleton was arguably the most talked-about exhibit at 2020’s World of Concrete Convention, and MASONRY Magazine was lucky enough to get a front-row seat to one of their live demonstrations. The technology is admittedly impressive in action, and the potential improvements in efficiency affording by such advancement are endless. In addition to improving efficiency, this technology also works to keep masons safer by diverting some of the heavy liftings, protecting workers’ joints and spine from repetitive motion injuries and wear and tear damage. While in the beginning stage, there’s a lot to be excited about with the technological development and release of the Fraco Exoskeleton.

We didn’t know what 2020 held on New Years Day, it may not have been ideal but we certainly discovered more about ourselves and how resilient we are as an industry. As we mentioned earlier this year, our digital content received a major increase and there are many more stories that didn’t make the print magazines but are just as interesting and compelling. Be sure to check them all out, as well as this year’s Young Professionals of The Year online! 

As always if you have any suggestions or story ideas you would like to see in the magazine feel free to reach out to bbrown@masoncontractors.org or cstern@masonrymagazine.com. We’re looking forward to seeing what 2021 has in store for the magazine and our readers! 

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