GEN NXT: Ruben Rodriguez

Words: Isa Stein

Sponsored By

Editor’s Note: MASONRY Magazine had the chance to work with the Arizona Masonry Council to talk with Ruben Rodriguez regarding his experience in the industry. Ruben is a father of four, competitor, and hard worker. His goal is to open his own masonry business one day.

M.M.: Tell me a little bit about yourself. 

R.R.: My name is Ruben Luis Rodriguez Jr., father of four and a husband of nine years to my high school sweetheart. I am 31 years young. Arizona native: born in Yuma and raised in Phoenix. I enjoy working out, nutrition, tattoos and horror movies.

M.M.: How did you get into the masonry industry? First-, Second-Gen? 

R.R.: I’m a 3rd generation Mason. My grandpa Luis owned his own masonry business. My father, Ruben Sr., has been a mason since before I was born. My grandfather would take me around to job sites when I was really young. All of his workers would come over to his house and sit outside singing while my grandpa would play the guitar. So, from a young age, I saw that a crew was more like a family than coworkers. My father would take me to side jobs when I was getting closer to my teen years. The first time I experienced working on a job site was during summer break when I was 16 years old. When I was 17, I got my now wife pregnant and was pretty much forced to start working in the field. I’ve tried to go and do other work since then, but masonry has always pulled me back.         

M.M.: Have you competed in competitions before? If so, tell me about it. If not, would you?

I have competed in multiple competitions in the last couple of years and taken home the 1st place title twice and 3rd place twice. I love the rush and atmosphere of competing, and it takes me places I’ve never been before. After I won the first competition, it really gave me confidence that maybe I was better at bricklaying than I was giving myself credit for. 

In my first year as an apprentice, I took home 3rd place for my very first competition. After that second year I brought home my first 1st place trophy, which took me to Vegas. That was the craziest competition I have been in. I recently took home 3rd place at the SkillsUSA national competition. My whole life, I’ve never really got into sports or anything like that, so competitions were a whole new experience for me, but I immediately fell in love. Showing off a skill and people noticing how hard you really work for it is a great feeling.

M.M.: Did/Do you have a mentor who has helped you in the industry? If so, tell me about that experience.

R.R.: I have had many mentors throughout my career. I like to take any bit of information I can get from the older generation masons. I have extreme respect for them and really appreciate their tips and tricks. Four specific people have made a big impact on my masonry life/career, and they all feed into different aspects of the job: my father, Ruben Rodriguez; my instructor, Ryan Gray; one of my foreman/friends, Chris Crosby; and my boss, Moroni Mejia. 

M.M.: How have these people made an impact on your career?

R.R.: Ryan really helps me with the execution of my brickwork, which has really helped me over the past year. Chris has shown me all I know about my technical work, like how to keep my work nice, clean and presentable. My father, throughout my whole career, has shown me how to be a real leader. Moroni has shown me a lot about the professional side of the job. He helps a lot when it comes to talking to general contractors.

M.M.: What are your goals in the industry and overall?

R.R.: Well, my main goal with this apprenticeship is to become a leader, which is what I strive to be. The main goal would be to get as far as I can in the masonry industry—hoping to start my own business someday.

M.M.: What has been your favorite experience in the industry so far? Why?

R.R.: My favorite experience in the industry has been my apprenticeship/schooling. I got to experience a whole different side of the masonry industry and grew a new love and respect for it. 

M.M.: What keeps you motivated? 

R.R.: My family is the only thing that keeps me motivated. Everything I do is to create the best life possible and to become the best version of myself for them. I want every step I take to be a positive step for my family.

M.M.: Do you work in the industry now? What does your normal routine look like?

R.R: I have worked in the masonry industry since 2010. My life revolves around work, school, the gym, and family time. My day starts with a morning huddle pointing everyone in the right direction and making sure everyone is on the same page in hopes that everything throughout the day goes smoothly as well as safely.

M.M.: What advice would you give to someone looking to join the masonry industry?

R.R.: The biggest piece of advice I can give to someone who’s trying to join the masonry industry is to take every piece of advice you can, but just remember to make it your own. Just because it works for someone else does not mean it’ll work perfectly for you. It’s a demanding industry to be in, but it is very rewarding.

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