Fechino Files: Applicants and Sponsors

Words: Steven Fechino

Photos: Steve Fechino

It is the time of year when summer gets crazy, and time off, schedules, and deadlines can make for some really stressful days. However, the Masonry Apprentice Scholarship is the opposite of stress—it is just a cool way of supporting younger folks who want to learn this trade.

This year, the 2024 presentation will take place on October 16 in Surfside Beach, South Carolina. The presentation will grant over 40 Masonry, Tile, and Stucco apprentices a scholarship tool bag worth close to $2000.00.

The apprentice scholarship was created when we saw an opportunity to assist some worthy apprentices with a bit of help. We created the Masonry Apprentice Scholarship with the assistance of our industry competitors, friends, and suppliers who believed that the scholarship would benefit the apprentices in ways we could not measure.

The Masonry Apprentice Scholarship began in the first year by offering four tool bags to students in North Carolina, Alabama, and Virginia. Now, with over 100 additional tool bags presented, we have crossed the country both up and down, coast to coast.

The Masonry Apprentice Scholarship has grown, but we are looking to enhance the current program. Sponsorships are easy to be a part of—get in touch with me and I will give you the details. No, it is not a call for dollars, but it is a call for tools and company swag that the students can benefit from for many years. What we are asking for is probably either your company swag in a box in your back room or easily obtained through a promotion that we have organized with Bon Tool. When a student starts out with a brand, they typically stick with that brand. Look at your drill batteries, for example, you stick with the brand. You can be their brand!

For instance, if your company sells a bulk product, obviously you could not put it in our tool bag. So the program we set up with Bon Tool is basically this: we selected about 15 items that other sponsors are not providing, available at a 30% discount with no tax and no freight. You could easily order what you need and we could add it to the bag. If you wanted to put your corporate sticker on the tool, we would be glad to do that for you when we pack the bags in October. Being a sponsor is not a major investment, but it is a major investment in our upcoming apprentices who receive the bag.

I often get asked what the process is to nominate a student. Well, it is as easy as contacting me and briefly discussing the student. We are only looking for masonry apprentices who could benefit from a little extra assistance during their remaining year prior to topping out and who will continue into the trade after training. This is not designed to be a graduation gift for a student who will pursue another career after graduation.

When a student is nominated, it is a secret to the student and their friends. In October, the student will be presented with the Masonry Apprentice Scholarship by the person who nominates them, typically during a major event for the student. The presentation needs to be videotaped, photographed, and sent directly to Mortar Net Solutions, with the students who receive scholarships individually identified so we can, along with our sponsors, begin the social media campaign of making them the biggest thing in masonry. The student becomes a "Rock Star" in the industry’s eyes. If you can find that special student or students, give me a call. I am always eager to see what we can do to keep this trade the best!

I need to say thank you to Keene Building Products and Jim Keene. Greg Skyta, as many of you know him by now, is the best partner to offer scholarships with, especially since he does most of the spreadsheets and shipping labels, thinking and keeping me out of trouble. Our sponsors are also the best in the industry. Really. They are Bon Tool, Kapro, Build Show, Jag Clamp, Grout Grunt, U.S. Tape, Truefast Walls, Old Castle, Keene Building Products, Prosoco, Knippex, Arizona Masonry Council, Hohmann & Barnard, and Miller Electric Mfg. Co.

Many of you have seen the articles that I have written about the scholarships. Now, we are asking for your help in making it better for the student. If the company that you represent has branded line blocks, hats, t-shirts, pencils, or branded hand tools that could be placed in the bag, the promotion that all of the sponsors participate in through social media would pay you back and then some. Think about what it would have been like if someone nominated you and you received this when you were starting out—a game changer.

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