GEN NXT: Khalib Kennedy

Words: Cass Stern

When it comes to choosing a career path, sometimes it's the unexpected opportunities that lead us to our true passions. For Khalib a young mason currently working for McGee Brothers, his journey into the masonry industry began with a chance encounter during his senior year of high school.

Despite the fact that he wouldn't be able to complete the full course due to starting late, Khalib's enthusiasm for masonry was undeniable. With his instructor's approval, Khalib embarked on a journey that would shape his future career. Khalib's introduction to masonry came through a Work-based Training and Education (WTE) course he took in his senior year.

Masonry Magazine: When did you first get into the masonry industry, and what influenced you to join?

Khalib: I started late in my senior year of high school. I always knew about masonry, but I didn't start until then. I took a WTE course, and it was really just luck. I passed by one day, Mister Mason was there, and I tried it out. I fell in love with it. I asked him if I could take it during my senior year. He said yes, but I wouldn't be able to do the full course. I still wanted to do it, though.

Since starting his career as a mason, Khalib has found great satisfaction in his work. "I really pride myself in trying to make it look as best as possible," he says. "Being able to finish a job and be like, 'Man, that just looks awesome'—that's the most enjoyable thing."

Khalib is enrolled in the construction engineering program at UNC Charlotte. Balancing a demanding job with the rigors of higher education is no easy feat, but Khalib has found a way to make it work. He credits his employer, McGee Brothers, with being incredibly supportive and accommodating of his school schedule.

Masonry Magazine: Tell me about your experience as a mason so far. How's it been going?

Khalib: Oh, it's been going great. I work for McGee Brothers right now, and they work perfectly with my schedule because I also go to UNC Charlotte. They're fine if I have to go there a little late or leave a little early for my classes.

While masonry is often associated with being a physically demanding and challenging trade, Khalib embraces the challenges that come with the job, viewing them as opportunities to learn and grow. "I always like to see a challenge," he explains. "I don't see it as something that's hard, just something that takes time to get used to. Masonry has a stigma of being hard, back-breaking work, but that's what I love about it. I love being outside and working with my hands. It's fun to me."

Masonry Magazine: What do you think separates a good mason from a great mason?

Khalib: Probably about 100,000 more bricks laid, but honestly, it's probably just work experience and attitude. From a good mason to a great mason is just 5-10 years. It just takes time because I think you can get good pretty fast, but to be great, it takes ten more years.

As for his plans for the future, Khalib is keeping an open mind. He's focused on learning as much as he can, both on the job and in his studies at UNC Charlotte. "I'm just trying to learn as much as I can," he says. "Wherever the Lord takes me and puts me in the right spot, I think I'm in a good spot right now. Just being able to have the option to have a degree and the experience I have is enough to put me in a position or spot that I would want to be."

Masonry Magazine: What would you say to someone who is on the fence about joining the masonry industry?

Khalib: I would say, just start. I mean, if you're just on the fence, but if you like it, you really do have to have a pretty set out heart and be like, 'Hey, I really do like this.' If you have the opportunity, just try it. People spend so much time thinking about what they should do instead of actually doing something. Just get out there and lay brick, you know?

Khalib's story is familiar to many in the industry—of seizing opportunities, working hard, and following one's passions. Through his dedication to his craft and his commitment to learning, he's laying the foundation for a successful career. His positive attitude, strong work ethic, and willingness to take on challenges will undoubtedly serve him well in the future.

For aspiring masons and anyone considering a career in the trades, Khalib's journey serves as an inspiration. It's a reminder that with passion, perseverance, and a willingness to learn, anyone can build a rewarding and fulfilling career, one brick at a time.

Westlake Royal Building Products™ Expands Partnership with Boise Cascade® for Cedar Renditions™ and Versetta Stone® Distribution

Westlake Royal Building Products™ (“Westlake Royal”), a Westlake company (NYSE:WLK), today announced an expanded partnership with Boise Cascade®, a leading manufacturer and distributor of building materials throughout North America. Strengthening Westl

Four Different Types of Natural Stone Used For Masonry

Natural stone has been a staple in masonry for centuries. Before it was used to transform home and landscape designs on residential properties, it was used for historical buildings and some of the most iconic destinations in the world.

Advice to the Beginners

The best advice I could give anyone that is starting a career in masonry is that first and foremost, you must "know" yourself. What do you like to do? What would you like in a working environment? Do you like to be outside? Do you enjoy physical activity

About: Featured
Masonry Safety Inspections

The look of confusion and utter loss on people’s faces when I tell them that I’m a safety inspector for a masonry company is often hilarious.

About: Safety