Kansas City, Mo.—Companies and organizations of the masonry industry joined together June 25–29, 2007, to support the 43rd annual SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference and the National Masonry Contest.

For up to six hours, 48 young masons from 36 states competed at Bartle Hall in Kansas City, Mo. Each contestant, using block and brick and mortar, tried to construct the winning project by placing the masonry materials, according to plans, on a concrete block base.

The 2007 winner of the post secondary/college competition was Michael Wagner, 22, from The Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades, Media, Penn. Wagner's instructor is Daniel L. Hiltebeitel. The 2007 winner of the secondary/high school competition was Marcus G. Hefner, 19, from West Stanley High School, Oakboro, N.C. Hefner's instructor is Timothy Kidd.

Masonry competitors were part of over 5,000 students who competed in 84 different career trade, technical and leadership fields. The contestants effectively demonstrated their expertise in the occupational skills required for such trades as electronics, technical drafting, precision machining, carpentry, plumbing and masonry.

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During the final evening, the awards ceremony was held at Kemper Arena in front of a crowd of over 15,000.

Student interest in masonry vocational training continues to be strong. This year, 31 high school and 17 post secondary/college contestants competed in two divisions. To qualify, the students had been winners, or designated second place finishers, of their own state contests.

They competed against the clock and against themselves to demonstrate their expertise in this ancient profession. The contest consisted of a written test and the construction of a brick and block composite project. The project for this year's contest was designed by Bryan Light to test the skills needed for successful entry into the masonry profession.

Trade professionals from Bricklayers Local No. 15 and selected vocational instructors judged the projects by taking extensive measurements, measuring plumb at six locations, and judging finishing techniques and overall appearance.

Bryan Light of Brick SouthEast, a Brick Industry Association affiliate, has served as chairman of the technical committee since September 2003. Light was complimentary in his appreciation of other supporters.

"The masonry industry's support of this competition remains fantastic," says Light. "Everyone understands the importance of technical training to the proper use of their products, each of which contributes to excellence in finished brick and block projects."

Members of the National Masonry Technical Committee and other sustaining members and sponsors of the contest included Brick SouthEast, Inc.; Bon Tool Co.; Brick Industry Association; Hanley-Wood LLC; Marshalltown Co.; Mason Contractors Association of America; Masonry Institute of Tennessee; National Concrete Masonry Association; Portland Cement Association; Spec Mix and Wasco, Inc.

Through the efforts of the National Concrete Masonry Association, this year's contestants were supported by donations of mortar from Spec Mix, brick from Yankee Hill Brick & Tile and block from Midwest Block & Brick. The brick donation, as well as shipping, was coordinated again this year by Kansas City Brick. Spec Mix salesmen from around the country were "slingin' their mud," donated of course, in support of the aspiring masons. Other organizations supporting the contest included Calculated Industries and Carhartt Inc.

Other highlights of the annual conclave included a field trip to a local block plant arranged by NCMA representative, Harry Junk. The tour was followed by a luncheon in honor of the contestants and their instructors.

At the luncheon, Bryan Light gave the keynote address titled, "I Built a Castle." With nearly 100 projected photos, Light showed the 20,000 sq. ft. brick and stone house located south of Atlanta, Ga. He explained the intricacies of the massive project and talked about his pride in being the mason contractor on the five-year project that included over 300,000 brick, block and stone!

The SkillsUSA organization represents 284,000 students and instructors in the 50 states, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Virgin Islands. The event is booked in Kansas City through 2014.

2007 National Brick Masonry Contest Winners Post Secondary Competition

  • First Place: Michael G. Wagner, 22, The Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades, Media, Penn.
  • Second Place: Travis Greenly, 19, Central Cabarrus High School, Concord, N.C.
  • Third Place: Christian C. Cruz, 30, Alfred State College, SUNY College of Technology, Wellsville, N.Y.

Secondary Competition (High School)

  • First Place: Marcus Hefner, 18, West Stanley High School, Oakboro, N.C.
  • Second Place: Jared Braveboy, 17, Lake City High School, Lake City, S.C. (Braveboy finished second for the second consecutive year.)
  • Third Place: Bradley V. Wright, 17, Earnest Pruett Center of Technology, Hollywood, Ala.