April 2012: Making the Grade

Words: Dan Kamys Making the Grade

Just a year out of high school, Jon Mayes asked his boss if he thought he was ready to take on the masonry responsibilities he’d been offered in the construction of seven McDonald’s, all to be built with split-faced blocks. Mayes was told he was not. Mayes asked his boss if he could return to his current job, should his new job not work out.

His boss replied, “I’ll see ya back here in a couple of weeks.”

“I knew right then that I’d never go back,” Mayes says. And he didn’t. His competitive nature wouldn’t let him.

A year earlier, at the 1998 Alabama state masonry competition, Mayes jumped from his seat and headed to the stage, immediately following the announcement of the second-place winner. Grabbing Mayes’ arm, his masonry instructor asked him where he was going. Mayes replied, “To get my award.” By the time his name was called, he was practically on stage to receive his first-place award.

A natural choice Mayes had worked as a masonry laborer every summer since he was 15. During the summer following his junior year in high school, he was allowed to lay brick, and knew then what he wanted to do for the rest of his life.

Later, just more than a year removed from high school and after a few months constructing those seven McDonald’s restaurants, Mayes returned home and started picking up masonry jobs. “I just wanted to stay around home,” Mayes says. “Then, the work just started coming to me. I’ve been most fortunate. There hasn’t been one weather-fit day that I didn’t have a job to do!”

Mayes has applied his competiveness to his trade and to his business, Mayes Masonry, which works primarily in the residential sector and, now, has five employees.

Mayes’ business has focused on rebuilding tornado-damaged homes in the Fyffe, Ala., area. Mayes’ business has focused on rebuilding tornado-damaged homes in the Fyffe, Ala., area.

Another life decision Late in 2010, he was called to the pulpit by Guest Baptist Church in Fyffe, Ala. where he now serves as pastor. On April 27, 2011, more than 50 tornados touched down in Alabama. Most everyone knows of the death and destruction caused by the massive tornado that struck Tuscaloosa that day. Three other tornadoes touched down near Mayes’ home. One missed his house by less than two miles and leveled the church he previously had attended. He’s grateful, of course, that the tornadoes affected neither his family nor his business, but Mayes still is saddened by the extensive damage and loss of life that the tornadoes caused.

Since that day, his business has focused on rebuilding homes in the area and the church he had attended. “It’s tragic what the tornado destroyed,” says Mayes. “However, I’d be dishonest if I didn’t admit that in spite of a generally poor economy, we’ve had all the work we can handle.”

Mayes has applied his competiveness to his trade. Mayes has applied his competiveness to his trade.

Mayes is married to his wife, Karin, and they have a son, Brice, 6, and a daughter, Hannah Grace, 4. Ever the competitor, Mayes competed last November in the regional competition of the Bricklayer 500 in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

“A masonry sales rep asked me if I’d like to compete. ‘Sure,’ I said. So the night before the contest, I pulled the rules, the plans and the specs off the internet. I read them on the 90-minute drive to the contest. We didn’t win, but we had a heck of a time.”

Then, after a long pause, Mayes adds, “I’m going to do it again next year. I’ll be prepared this time.” You can count on it!

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