2022 GEN NXT: The Year in Review

Words: Isa Stein

Sponsored By:

Editor’s Note: In 2022, MASONRY Magazine had the chance to hear from various outstanding masons and apprentices. Our GEN NXT series aims to highlight the next generation of leaders in the masonry industry, and we cannot thank them enough for taking the time to participate. Thank you to Masonry Cosmetics for sponsoring a great year of GEN NXT and continuing to support the industry.


In the first GEN NXT interview of the year, MASONRY Magazine sat down with Logan Foster, Operations Manager of Masonry Cosmetics, although he “...pretty much does whatever is needed to help the company thrive.” What a great start to the Masonry Cosmetics sponsored series! Logan was born into the masonry industry as his father, Don Foster, has worked in the industry for 40 years. While overcoming challenges and obstacles, Logan has made a name for himself in the masonry industry as a hardworking and determined individual. 

Logan has continued to grow Masonry Cosmetics and his passion for the industry. In the next 5-10 years, Logan hopes to see himself continue to climb the corporate ladder at Masonry Cosmetics. He would like to see brick's market share grow while growing Masonry Cosmetics' next generation at home and continue to be involved with the MCAA and a dozen other organizations that he is part of today. Thank you, Logan!


In March, Julia Rose talked with MASONRY Magazine about her experience in the masonry industry. Previously, Julia loved physical fitness and found her passion in that industry before getting involved in masonry. Thank you, Julia! Now, Julia is a bricklayer in Toronto, Ontario, Canada at Clifford Masonry after completing an online course for free masonry training at the Ontario Masonry Training Center. Usually, Julia has the opportunity to be the lead hand on the job sites with the foreman. When we spoke, Julia was finishing up her apprenticeship with her 5,600 hours completed and just getting ready to be certified as a Red Seal Mason. Following that, Julia has plans to return for her level three assessment in forcing. 

In the future, Julia looks forward to leading her large guild jobs and hopes to progress into a supervisor role. While facing various challenges along the way, she states “Masonry is an industry that women are pretty new to, so I can't expect the world to change overnight. Just because I think it should, doesn't mean everybody else agrees.” Julia continues to show the world her passions and abilities as a young woman in the trades.


Mason Saunders is the 2022 Second Year Skills Challenge winner, and Assistant Foreman with Huntley Brothers in Mint Hill, North Carolina. Thank you, Mason, for taking the time to talk with us this year! Mason has been surrounded by the trades for as long as he can remember. Mason’s early memories of the industry began with his father working as a carpenter and his name matching his duties of laying brick. Later, he had the opportunity to take a class with Ryan Shaver of North Carolina Masonry Contractors Association who he looks up to as he helped on job sites prior. Ever since then, Mason has been in love with masonry.

Mason continues to make a difference in masonry as he strives to compete in various competitions in the future. He loves to be a part of different jobs and different scenery, leaving behind the detailed work that he can go back and show his family one day. If anyone is hesitant to join the industry, Mason recommends “...just picking up a trowel and having fun.”


In May, MASONRY Magazine had the chance to talk with Grant Helms, 2021 Third-Year Apprentice Masonry Skills Challenge Winner and mason at Helms Masonry Incorporated in North Carolina. Grant has a history in the industry competitions starting from a young age of 16, and continues to make a name for himself. He recently got his contractor's license when he was 19 years old and has his own business that he works in the evenings and weekends, but works full-time for his dad at Helms Masonry Incorporated.  

With various instructors along the way, Ryan Shaver continues to mentor Grant in the industry. Grant gives much of his credit to his masonry instructor, Rodney Harrington, who pushed him to do his best along the way. Grant has competed in a tremendous amount of competitions, but his favorite is the Bricklayer 500®; he hopes to win the NC Regional Bricklayer 500® and the Bricklayer 500® in Vegas. Eventually, Grant hopes to take over his dad’s company and with his Contractor’s License, he wants to start building houses. Thank you, Grant!


MASONRY Magazine had the chance to speak with Oscar Montaño, the 2021 First-Year Apprentice Masonry Skills Challenge Winner, in August of this year. Thank you, Oscar, for participating in this series. Oscar has been surrounded by masonry in the field since the day he could pick up a wheelbarrow through his father’s masonry company. Throughout generations, his family has been involved with “albañil”, meaning that is what they do– blocks.

What keeps Oscar motivated is that he likes waking up in the mornings and growing with the same people: "Having the love for your colleagues, your friends, and your family and all the support. It’s hard to do everything by yourself." Currently, Oscar works as a lead mason and has always been interested in teaching the art of masonry to the next generation.


For the last GEN NXT of the year, MASONRY Magazine heard from Chris Parker, 2022 SkillsUSA’s Level 2 1st Place Winner. Chris found his passion for masonry through his high school class and teacher. Currently, Chris works for Wasco Inc. out of Knoxville, Tennessee. He is currently in his last year of an apprenticeship through Resource Valley Construction Training Council, INC., in Knoxville, Tennessee. After a history of competing in competitions before, Chris won the 2022 SkillsUSA Level 2 1st place title. 

In the future, Chris hopes to continue making a difference in the masonry industry by becoming a foreman or possibly a project manager. Chris says that becoming a project manager would bring more work to the masons. With the mentorship of Dustin Love and Darrel Craig, Chris is grateful to be in the position that he is in today. Thank you, Chris, for taking the time to participate in this series!

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