A Message From Texas Masonry Council’s Executive Director: Mr. Tony Topping


Words and Photos: Texas Masonry Council 

The Texas Masonry Council has had a year of growth - in our staff, our membership, and in achieving milestones in our initiatives. In the state of Texas, like many other states, we see an age gap in our workforce; this has sparked us to initiate a workforce development program called ‘Masonry ROCKS!’ helping primarily high school students find a pathway and career in masonry construction. Although getting the next generation of masons to our members is a key goal, we recognize our members have many more needs than this alone - we continue to provide services and benefits promoting masonry to architects, city planners, and state legislature to fight for an increased wall share. These tasks are no easy feat and to help the Texas Masonry Council accomplish these things we have expanded our staff to bring on a Masonry Instruction Coordinator to focus on workforce development and a Communications and Membership Coordinator to focus on membership services and expansion.

Masonry Rocks! Career Program:

We have accomplished much in our first full year of our Masonry Rocks! Career Program. We have spent the year traveling to high schools across the state of Texas and giving students their first opportunity to mix mortar, hold a trowel, lay some brick, and hear from our talented craftsmen about the opportunities that await in our industry. We were in front of well over 1,000 students throughout the year and over 250 of those students have indicated an interest to stay in touch with TMC. Currently, 35 students are interested in getting hired in Summer 2022 to start their journey in masonry construction.

While the main objective of this program is to recruit future masons that will be building the next grand projects, we find many students that are interested in other aspects of the industry. At every school we have students that are on the path to college and want to be architects and engineers and others that want to be equipment operators or truck drivers; we make sure these students know about the entire scope of the industry and the opportunities available to them.

Collegiate Masonry and Outreach:

TMC recognizes not every student is meant to be a bricklayer - and we think that’s great; we absolutely need construction technology educators, architects, and engineers too! In particular, we want to teach future architects and engineers; the more they know about masonry and have our product in their hands the more likely they are to remember masonry as a superior material when they become practicing professionals. With college students returning to in-person learning last fall, our long-standing University Masonry Days we’re able to resume.

The San Antonio Masonry Contractors Association recently hosted their annual event with students from the University of Texas-San Antonio. Participation was great this year with many students spending a few hours laying brick with San Antonio area masons; this hands-on lesson came at the start of a masonry module in their construction science class. Some UTSA architecture students have remained in contact with TMC seeking training and ways to stay connected with the masonry industry as they enter the workforce.

Most recently TMC held a University Masonry Day in College Station at Texas A&M University! Students worked in teams from the design process to wall construction; overwhelmingly these students were excited and appreciative to get hands-on and see their 3-D designs become a reality. TMC wants to continue to connect with future design decision-makers to ensure masonry is a product they are familiar and comfortable designing with - and in turn, keep our contractors building!

Celebrating our Members - Conference 2021:

After a hiatus in 2020, the industry was able to gather in Austin for our annual Convention and Golden Trowel Awards recognizing the top projects in our state. Attendance was strong amongst members with many suppliers and contractors represented, further, we had guests from out-of-state as well as other countries! Our conference does host a golf tournament which was capped off with a record-breaking live auction bringing in over $250,000 to help support our workforce development initiatives across the state.

Most importantly, we were able to recognize and honor architects, general contractors, and masons who built top-tier masonry projects during our Golden Trowel Award Ceremony on Friday evening. We encourage anyone involved in masonry - from contractors to suppliers to architects and designers - to get involved in the Golden Trowel Awards to inspire the next generation to achieve even more!

TMC is Growing:

2021 TMC conference welcomed new members and new faces to our association! Interest in our Masonry Rocks! Career Program is a big reason more contractors and suppliers are interested in getting involved. In 2021 our focus was on setting up our ‘Masonry ROCKS!’ program to get the next generation interested in masonry - now as this initiative is starting to produce a workforce, our membership must grow to accommodate placement for these students.

With so much focus on workforce development, membership, and marketing TMC needed to find new talent to help execute our big plans for the programs we implemented throughout 2021. Ignacio Sauceda is heading up our workforce development efforts; he comes to us with the unique background of being a masonry contractor and a former high school construction teacher. His experience is just what we needed to take our workforce efforts to the next level. To help with membership recruiting and marketing we brought on Cori Hancock. Cori has a background in recruiting and marketing with various types of trades and has already helped get our message to local media around the state.

Looking Ahead -

2022 is off to a great start in quarter one and we look forward to warmer weather and bigger events happening throughout the year. Our 2022 Annual Convention and Golden Trowel Awards will be held at the Westin Riverwalk in San Antonio, TX on August 3rd through 5th. This year we want to work hard to increase attendance - not only with membership and potential members but we also want to see an increased attendance from architects, teachers, and administrators.

To support this desired growth we are offering continuing education classes for architects and training sessions for educators that are interested in adding masonry education to their curriculum at their school. A call for sessions will soon go out for anyone interested in hosting sessions for our architect and educator guests.

One of the most requested changes over the last few years was to move the date of our convention from our typical first week of August. The date and location of our 2022 convention have been locked in for quite some time. However, in 2023 our convention will be moving to September. We hope this long-needed change will allow more people to attend our convention in person to celebrate the masonry industry and the architects, engineers, and craftsmen that make it all happen.

Thank you to the suppliers, contractors, architects, designers, and craftsmen that made 2021 such a successful year for the industry as a whole and TMC as an organization. We look forward to growing even more and working closely with all of you to help move the industry forward!

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