Masonry Madness is on again in the USA

Masonry Madness 2017
I’m currently in Las Vegas, USA, representing ABBTF attending the biggest annual event in bricklaying on the planet and thrilled to be again judging the apprentices competition.  Dubbed ‘Masonry Madness’, for good reason, the full program is a collection of the most exciting masonry competitions in the world – all set for Wednesday January 18 (US time).  One event after the other, the competitions just flow on:  the best bricklayers, blocklayers, mason apprentices and tenders battle in four unique masonry contests to prove who is the world’s best.   All of the above come under the banner of the ‘World of Concrete-World of Masonry’, the only annual international event dedicated to the commercial concrete and masonry construction industries in the US. Competitions are open to all high quality contenders from around the world.


It was a great honour to be invited back to judge again and have the opportunity to attend all industry workshops and forums.  I’ll present on behalf of ABBTF on Thursday on issues and strategies employed to source and retain good apprentices, helping build a highly qualified Australian bricklaying workforce.   The apprentice championship is run by the Mason Contractors Association of America (MCAA).   On 18th January, the apprentices are first up at 9.00am – US time.  The best in the country will showcase skills training in the masonry industry, challenging winning apprentices from regional competitions held throughout the country to determine the top masonry apprentice at each level. The exciting competition spotlights that nation’s finest young masons and focuses attention on careers in the industry.  This year there are no Aussie competitors, all having been too busy at home!

Apprentice contestants are divided by experience level, “First Years” who are just entering the trade through “Third Years” who are just about to enter the workforce as journeymen. Each level is given a project to build appropriate to their know-how.

So what’s the catch? The projects are a complete surprise!  These young apprentices must build their project without ever having seen the drawings (similar to our WorldSkills Australia). They haven’t been able to practice, and they can’t consult their instructor, employer or anyone else during the competition. They have three hours to complete their projects with the given materials.  Learn more at MCAA.

Video highlights from the World of Concrete 2016 Event set the flavour of what’s happening here!

Another great competition on the day is the Fastest Trowel on the Block.  The competition at 11.30am pits journeyman masons, accompanied by their favourite tender (assistant), against one another in a show of both speed and craftsmanship. Each contestant’s goal is to complete as much of a 30 foot long wall as possible, using 8″x8″x16″ CMU and the provided mortar in a twenty-minute heat. Contestants must have a high degree of workmanship using normal masonry practices and hand tools.

The really big competition is the SPEC MIX BRICKLAYER 500 World Championship judging the best bricklaying in the world!  It’s on at 12.15.  More details.

Over 4000 bricklaying industry people get to Las Vegas for this annual event which is bigger than any other construction trade event in the US.  It’s a great place to build our knowledge on promoting and organising events to further strengthen our industry.  I’m again looking forward to bringing back new idea to our own industry.  Also attending from Australia are Trent O’Sullivan from MCA, Bruce Alker from Coastal Masonry and Con from Conreco in Sydney.   Follow ABBTF Qld on FB for updates and maybe the Aussie visitors are posting too.  Cheers from LA.

Tony Bishop

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