Chairman’s Message: Who Inspired You?

Chairman’s Message: Who Inspired You?

Larry Vacala, MCAA Chairman

Who inspired you?  Most are inspired by a parent, their faith, or someone they met. Maybe it was their wisdom, success, accomplishments, or through their actions. Take time to reflect, and you’ll probably come up with several people you didn’t even realize inspired you to choose the path you’re on. They are special because, one way or another, each has influenced you to become the person you are today.

For me, both my parents were instrumental in the good decisions I made in life. They were exceptional role models. Both incredibly hard-working individuals while raising eleven children. My parents were the biggest inspiration for me to work hard and help others in need.

Recently our industry lost a very inspirational leader Richard (Dick) Lauber, on June 18, 2022. He will always be a legend in our industry. He grew J&E Duff into one of the largest and well-respected masonry companies in the Chicago area.  The list of his accomplishments and involvement in our industry is extraordinary. Dick received the prestigious honor of being inducted into the MCAA Masonry Hall of Fame in 2017. Awarded the C. DeWitt Brown Leadman Award in 2004. Named Industry Leader of the Year in 2000. He was Trustee on the Union’s Pension, Annuity, and Health and Welfare Funds for more than 30 years. Participated as an arbitrator in the Union Bricklayer’s Joint Board since 1988. Active in MCA of Greater Chicago for 40 years, including serving as President for 21 years. MCAA Region D Vice President for 6 years. Served as President of MCA of DuPage for 3 years. Instrumental in establishing the District Council Training Center in 2002. Board of Directors for IMI and ICE. Masonry Advisory Council board member for more than 25 years. Founding member of Construction Industry Service Corporation (CISCO)- a labor management group that provided a place for union and management to discuss common goals and industry issues. 

Dick was a tireless advocate for promoting and strengthening masonry. Good apprenticeship training programs and quality workmanship were very important to him. He often said poor workmanship will destroy our industry. He proved one person can make a difference to help an entire industry. It was an honor to serve on the board with him representing Chicago area contractors. His actions inspired me to be involved.

Along with his strong convictions to the masonry industry, Dick was a man of deep faith. He was very active in the churches he attended. He supported many ministries and mission agencies throughout the world. Dick Lauber was truly an amazing guy! He will be missed by many and never forgotten. 

Aug 3 -5, I attended the Texas Masonry Council Convention held in San Antonio, Texas. It was inspirational seeing contractors and suppliers gather to discuss programs to strengthen our industry. Fierce competitors throughout the year aligning to discuss important topics such as workforce development and education. TMC has an amazing staff, Tony Topping (Executive Director), Michelle Queen (Education and Outreach), Cori Hancock (Membership and Marketing). Their Board of Directors headed by President- Mackie Bounds (Brazos Masonry), 1st V.P.- Paul McCurdy (City Masonry), 2nd V.P.- Bruce Fowler (Texas Building Products, BESCO), Secretary/Treasurer- Garen Graves (Jewel, an Old Castle Co.), Stan McCarthy (Acme Brick Co.), Trey Atwood (Acme Brick Co.), Steve Carter (Metro Masonry), James Groesbeck (Groesbeck Masonry), Ben Wheaton (C.W. Oates Masonry), Rusty Haile (Acme Brick Co.), Jim Wise (Red River Brick), Brent Coffey (Best Block). All should be commended for their commitments and on a successful convention!

Throughout the 3-day event, you could just feel the positive energy and passion for our industry. At the golf tournament, I had the privilege of golfing with another inspirational person in my life, Brad Humphries. He taught leadership and business seminars which I attended at the World of Concrete. It was great to spend time with him, thank him, and let him know what a positive influence he had on me. I was honored to introduce Brad as the keynote speaker for the TMC Board Meeting. Once again, he did not disappoint. I recommend attending a Brad Humphries seminar if you ever have the chance.

The convention closed out with the Golden Trowel Awards Ceremony and dinner. Very impressive masonry projects were entered. Congratulations to all the winners.  After attending the TMC convention, you believe masonry is getting stronger. They have much to be proud of.

In my life, many people have inspired me to either get involved or do better. Just out of high school, the first contractor I worked for until he fired me said to me, “There are three types of people in this world. People that make things happen, people that watch things happen, and people that wonder what happened. Which are you?”  I didn’t answer, but I must have been a person that wondered what happened or watched things happen. And that’s probably why I was fired. But that incident inspired me to become a person that makes things happen. Thank you, Mr. Jim Boulton, for being honest and building that fire in me.  This world needs more inspirational people that make things happen. Because many of our great leaders have left us for the heavens. 

Dedicated to the memory of Dick Lauber.

Stay Safe and Stay Strong!

Larry Vacala

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