2021 GEN NXT Year In Review


Words: MASONRY Magazine 

Photos: Annayeli Dionisio, Issac White, Jennifer Key, Matthew Williams, Sadat Gutierrez 

As many of our readers know, we love to highlight the future of the masonry industry, especially with our GEN NXT series. This year we were afforded the opportunity to interview another immensely talented group of people. So we decided to share recaps of their stories with you. We’d like to thank each person who we’ve interviewed in our GEN NXT series, as well as give a big thank you to JagClamp for sponsoring this essential series in our magazine.

Jennifer Key 

In our first GEN NXT interview of the year, we sat down with Jennifer Key, Cape Fear Community College student in Wilmington, North Carolina. Jennifer was introduced to the masonry industry in high school by her aunt Natlty Razo and instructor Fred Mason Jr. She was involved with SkillsUSA competitions and enjoyed the new experiences she and her friends were afforded as well as being able to show off the skills she’s learned during her classes. 

Jennifer was one of the 2020 Mortar Net Solutions Masonry Apprentice Scholarship Recipients and was very humbled and grateful for the opportunity and awards. Jennifer is looking forward to seeing what the masonry industry will have in store for her once she’s completed her Project Management Degree at Cape Fear Community College. She has plans to start working on small jobs and growing from there in the hopes of eventually starting her own business someday. 

Issac White 

We had the opportunity to talk with Issac White in the March issue of the magazine. Issac was a laborer with Hugh Townsend Masonry in Granite Falls, NC at the time of the interview as well as working towards his Associate’s Degree in Business at Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute (CCC&TI). He was also a 2020 Mortar Net Solutions Masonry Apprentice Scholarship Recipient and was very surprised and appreciative of his work ethic being noticed. 

Issac started taking masonry classes while in high school at South Caldwell High, he’s always liked working with his hands and being outside so working in masonry was a perfect fit for him. He was also involved in SkillsUSA in high school and enjoyed the competitions and the experience he gained from them. Issac pointed out that he takes pride in looking back at the projects he’s been able to work on. 

Issac is looking forward to what the future holds for him, planning to buy land and build a house for himself while working with Hugh Townsend Masonry. 

Matthew Williams 

We interviewed Matthew Williams for the May issue of this series. Matthew is a Stonemason and Bricklayer at Norwoods Masonry in Ontario, Canada. He’s been working in the masonry industry since he started classes at Algonquin College Heritage Masonry Program. Matthew started at Norwoods Masonry after completing the masonry program. He is the first in his family to work within the masonry industry and enjoys working with his hands on quality projects. 

Matthew plans to work in the masonry industry for as long as possible; he values his place at Norwoods Masonry and works with everyone on job sites. He’s looking forward to mentoring younger people in the industry shortly as well. 

Sadat Gutierrez 

Sadat Gutierrez’s story was featured in the July issue of the magazine. At the interview, Sadat was an intern with SpawGlass in Harlingen, TX, and a part-time college student. She’s been working in the masonry industry since she was introduced to it in high school by chance. She spoke highly of her instructor Victor Santillan who encouraged her throughout high school and continues to mentor her.

Sadat participated in SkillsUSA and enjoyed competing with her friends in her class; in high school, she placed sixth at the national level in SkillsUSA. She enjoys getting new experiences on jobsites and personal projects she’s worked on. Sadat is looking forward to continuing working within the masonry industry with the hopes of becoming a project manager.  

Annayeli Dionisio 

We interviewed Annayeli Dionisio in the September installation of this series. Annayeli is in her senior year at Southeastern College Academy and taking masonry classes since her freshman year. She’s following in the footsteps of her grandfather, who was a mason in Mexico. Annayeli’s grandfather taught her father the trade, and she decided she wanted to try and was very interested in masonry from there. 

Annayeli has competed in a couple of competitions, one of them being SPEC MIX’s Jr. Bricklayer competition, where she laid over 200 bricks in 20 minutes. She won first place in that competition. Annayeli plans to continue working in the masonry industry and experience other trades as she likes to try and learn new things.  

Be sure to be on the lookout for new interviews in 2022, as they’ll be more to come! If you’d like to see your favorite young mason featured in this series, be sure to email Bronzella Brown at bbrown@masoncontractors.org.

Are Your Employees Safe While Working In Hot Weather?

As the temperatures rise outside during summer months, so do the risks that employees working in hot conditions may be harmed by the dangerous effects it can have. Exposure to high temperatures can be deadly.1 It’s your responsibility as a business owner

Maximizing Efficiency with CrewTracks

In the masonry industry, efficient project management is crucial for success. CrewTracks addresses this need by streamlining various aspects of daily operations.

SOLA Innovation: Digital Levels

In 2021, SOLA introduced a new generation of digital levels at the World of Concrete. Because it was in the midst of Covid it wasn’t the most well-attended show, but we were optimistic. We attended, showcasing both our SOLA and Keson brands. The standout

Bonding with Masonry 2024 Q2

This issue’s questions come from an Architect, an Engineer. and a Mason Contractor. What questions do you have? Send them to info@masonrymagazine.com, attention Technical Talk.