The Fechino Files: National Masonry Instructors Association 2022

Words: Steven Fechino

Steven Fechino


Words: Steven Fechino and Curtis Hoover
Photos: NMIA

The National Masonry Instructors Association has just met for the 33rd time with a great turnout. The conference ran from July 10th through the 13th. The classroom portion of the conference was filled with many influential speakers that showed how important it was to share their messages. The day began with a message from the current president Kenny Allen. Kenny is a delight to listen to no matter what topic he is discussing. Paul Bender of Bon Tool discussed various changes in the masonry tool industry over the past few years as well as he highlighted the programs that are offered by Bon Tool for school assistance programs. The second presenter was the always entertaining Rolly Cox of MultiQuip. Rolly is a great hands-on presenter that discussed common equipment maintenance for the training facility. As a  proactive program, this will keep things maintained and running efficiently. Bryan Light, a true National Masonry Instructors Association Hall of Famer, talked about lessons learned from a master mechanic. Bryan has experience few will ever obtain, as his years of service have made him one of the industry's most interesting speakers.

Ryan Shaver of North Carolina Masonry Contractors Association discussed something he has perfected that is teaching during a pandemic. Ryan has not missed a beat with his students and shared several things he had tried that were productive and produced excellent candidates for employment. Dana Martini of Superior Clay discussed the clay systems that they produce as a way to construct difficult projects. The pizza oven that was discussed, for example, is just a brilliant way to put something in an outdoor kitchen that will give years of service and an exciting way to prepare several items of food. The day wrapped up with Dan Kamys from the Mason Contractors Association of America, where he discussed and monitored discussion in a round table format. As always, everyone that participated shared and gained theirs and other thoughts, making the time valuable and well worthwhile.

Wednesday opened up with a quick message. Al Herndon, who doesn't like this guy; his smile is contagious, discussed the ever-changing world of the National Center for Continuing Education and Research (NCCER). The NCCER is a curriculum that has been adopted by many of the masonry programs across the United States (USA) and has brought consistency to the training that we provide. I spoke a little about the importance of looking at newer systems and discussed why it is important. I discussed how the wall sections have remained the same. I to look at in detail, but the selection of products has very much changed the way a wall performs. The last day wrapped up with Treasurer's report and some new business but not before yet another Hall of Famer spoke to the crowd. Jerry Painter, a true fan favorite, discussed codes, but in true Jerry fashion, then he went on to discuss several other important issues keeping everyone's attention and smiles as he was not only informative but he was also truly entertaining.

Hall of Fame recipients this year included Jeffery Mackie, a past president for 3 years and retired instructor from Mobile, Alabama. Jeffery has been in attendance at competitions across the country and has added his knowledge to many students' tool bags. Kenny Allen, another previous President, Instructor of the Year, and long-time member of the NMIA retired this summer, leaving a huge void in the Alabama technical community. Kenny always has a smile and a kind word for all to enjoy. Jimmy Brown is our past Vice President. Jimmy always contributes at all meetings and has been a long-time member of the NMIA community, and has continually added to the curriculum that benefits the students.

This year we had a Hall of Famer do it again. Curtis Hoover, a Mason Contractors Association of America Hall of Fame recipient and named this year's teacher's Hall of Fame recipient for the National Masonry Instructors Association. Well done, Curtis, you have contributed and taught thousands of students, and your current work continues to benefit even more students across the country. Curtis's wife Sharon also received an award as her dedication to the industry for the past 40 years was not to be unnoticed. Sharon is always behind the scenes creating arrangements for NMIA gift giveaways, deciding banquet details and assisting Curtis at many of the competitions across the country, keeping Curtis on top of tired this spring, leaving a void game, but now you know the real reason Curtis is successful.

This year is officially the last independent National Masonry Instructors Association Summer Conference before we merge with the Mason Contractors Association of America. The keynote speakers this year were selected from a list of old-timers (founding elders) that actually created this organization. James Ham, Alonzo Lewis, Milton Young, Robert Campbell and Eugine Johnson, all former Hall of Famers, discussed memories from the past 33 years of working with instructors and students. These men are heroes to our industry and will always be respected as such.

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