GEN NXT: Sam Berryman

Words: Cass Stern

In today's evolving landscape of skilled trades, where tradition meets innovation, Sam Berryman's journey into the masonry industry is not just a career choice but a testament to heritage, passion, and the profound rewards of hard work. Influenced by his great-grandfather, a revered mason, and educator who shared both his name and a legacy of craftsmanship, Berryman’s path into masonry began early, rooted in familial guidance and a natural affinity for hands-on work.

MCAA: Who or what influenced you to join the masonry industry?

Sam: My great grandfather was a Mason and also a teacher. We have the same name. We share the same name, so probably him. He did that as a career, and I just loved working with him sometimes.

Formally entering the masonry industry during his high school years, Berryman embarked on a focused four-year journey that has defined his professional trajectory. From the outset, he engaged enthusiastically in competitive events such as the Bricklayer Junior and SkillsUSA competitions, where he honed his skills amidst peers and mentors who shared his passion.

MCAA: Throughout your experience in these past couple of years, what has been your favorite and most challenging part about being a mason so far?

Sam: My favorite part is all the opportunities it brings me. I've done many of the competitions that they offer, like the Bricklayer Junior, and the SkillsUSA competitions. And the most challenging part is, but is also the most rewarding part, is the hard work that is involved for masonry. I just like working with my hands, and having a sense of accomplishment after it's all done.

  

Educationally, Berryman’s foundation was laid at the Berks Career and Technology Center, under the guidance of Michael Kern, a mentor whose guidance proved invaluable during his formative years. Continuing his education at Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology with instructor Michael Gardner further enriched his understanding and practical skills in masonry, preparing him for a future where craftsmanship meets innovation.

MCAA: What was that initial moment where you realized that you wanted to be a mason?

Sam: Well, in school I didn't really like sitting down at my desk, so I joined Masonry in my sophomore year, and it just clicked. I just really liked working with my hands and I just love it now. I went to high School for 3 years for Masonry at Berks Career and Technology Center with Michael Kern. And then I went to Thaddeus Stevens last year with Michael Gardner.

For Berryman, the essence of being a great mason extends beyond technical proficiency—it hinges on collaboration and teamwork. Reflecting on his experiences, he emphasized that success in masonry is not solely about individual achievement but about collective effort and synergy.

 

MCAA: With the amount of experience that you have, what do you think separates a good mason from a great mason?

Sam: You have to be willing to work as a team and not just by yourself. Nothing great happens with just one person. At least, that's what I believe. So I think teamwork is probably the most important thing that separates a good mason from a great mason.

Looking forward, Berryman envisions a future where his expertise in masonry intersects with his passion for education and mentorship. Inspired by the impactful guidance of mentors like Michael Kern and Michael Gardner, he plans to merge fieldwork with teaching, aspiring to inspire and guide future generations of masons.

MCAA: What are your plans for the future after you, you know, graduate next year? I know you have the job lined up but like way down the line what are some things you hope to accomplish.

Sam: Well after I graduated college I wanna work in the field for a big company for like 10 or 15 years and I hope to find a teaching job because I was really inspired by my 2 teachers Michael Kern and Michael Gardner because they've helped the kids around me grow so much. I strive to be just like them one day. So that's my plan, and also build my own house.



For those considering a career in masonry, Berryman offered heartfelt advice rooted in his own journey and achievements.

MCAA: What would you say to somebody who is on the fence about joining the masonry industry?

Sam: I would say definitely join if you're willing to put in the hard work. Of course, it's just a really rewarding trade and there's nothing better in my opinion. I think masonry is probably the greatest trade to go into and there's so many opportunities, it's just unbelievable. What it’s done for my life and my family.

Sam Berryman's story encapsulates the essence of masonry—a fusion of craftsmanship, dedication, and the enduring satisfaction of creating something tangible and lasting. As he continues to forge his path in this time-honored trade, he stands as a beacon of inspiration for aspiring masons, demonstrating that with passion, dedication, and a commitment to excellence, the possibilities within masonry are limitless.
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