Mentoring For The Future

Words: Mackie Bounds

Words: Mackie Bounds, CEO of Brazos Masonry
Photos: Brazos Masonry

The definition of the word tells the story: advise or train (someone, especially a younger colleague).  That is simply saying we are preparing for the future.  Those companies that do not recognize the need for mentors for the purpose of training do not have a profitable future ahead.  

Thirty-three years ago, I opened Brazos Masonry and have been on an interesting journey since.  Did I have training?  I had several mentors in my life.  My dad was a very smart businessman and was always successful.  My three brothers and I were all four, were, or still are, operating our businesses.  My dad always said, “Just because you have money in the bank doesn’t mean you're rich.”  After you pay your bills and taxes, then check your account.  When I shared with him that I was going into business for myself, he had more advice to give.  He wanted to make sure I knew the difference between assets and liabilities.  He always said, “There is nothing wrong with debt as long as you can afford it.  Just be sure you’re increasing your assets beyond debt.”  I still live my life by many things he mentored me in.  The most important thing he taught me was to put your God first and then family and then take care of what you have been blessed with.  

I also had another mentor that came into my life after Brazos Masonry was opened: a local businessman here in Waco and one that was very successful.  He invested in my company and backed my line of credit.  I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for him.  He gave me guidance and advice that no college could give me.  He always had words of encouragement even when things were not going well.  He mentored me in business 101.  As an example of this, it was his wisdom that convinced me, as my company grew, I was going to need a CFO.  He knew balance sheets better than the bank and even the bonding company.  He taught me the difference in long-term vs short-term debt.  The list could go on and on.  I told him one day that I could never repay him for all he did for me.  He simply smiled and said, “You will do it for others, and I know this.”  I have tried but I’m sure there is more I can do.

Usually, when we think of mentoring, we always think about one on one.  I have received mentoring from MCAA gatherings and peer group meetings.  When we share our experiences with each other, that is what is defined as “Group Mentoring.”  I still learn when I go to MCAA conventions and mid-year meetings.  I always learn when I go to peer group meetings.  I simply will say my success came from some great mentoring that I was blessed with.

I shared my personal story as an example of what you and I can do today.  I remember the day that we made sure that every apprentice had a mentor.  I have folks complaining about the quality of bricklayers today, and I believe it goes back to this very subject.  We must start teaching and training for the future.  Here in Texas, we have the opportunity to even mentor high school students.  We are excited about what the future holds.

It is not always one-on-one.  You may suggest classes such as blueprint reading, contest-competing with others, or maybe going to safety classes.  You are still their mentor, and you are teaching and training the person for the future.  If we choose to ignore mentoring, then I believe the quality of our personnel will continue to drop.  For a one-on-one mentoring program to work, it must be organized and well-defined, matching people up with the right folks.

This also applies to the rest of our industry.  I had someone to teach and train me how to estimate and how to project-manage.  I have already mentioned my mentors in business.  It should exist in every piece of our operations today!

I hope one day I can share, or someone can share, an organized mentor program that will give you the same hope I have today.  Mentoring is the cornerstone here at Brazos Masonry, and I am confident we will continue to be successful by mentoring for the future. 

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