Contractor to Contractor: Davidson’s Masonry, Inc.
Since 1955, Davidson’s Masonry has specialized in masonry projects across the Midwest. Darrell Evenson became an apprentice bricklayer for the company in 1963, and later purchased a portion of Davidson's Masonry in 1984. Under Evenson’s leadership, the company surpassed the founder’s largest year in sales, and has reached a sales volume of $5 to $6 million since. Evenson took some time to share with Masonry the keys to his company's success, where he sees the future of the masonry industry heading, and how he has helped grow his business.
Masonry: Tell us a little more about the history of your company.
Evenson: Davidson’s Masonry was started in 1955 by two brothers, Gordon and Jim Davidson. They started with fireplaces and moved up from there. Their father was a bricklayer as well, and all three have 50-year gold cards.
Masonry: To what do you attribute this growth and continued success?
Evenson: Our growth and success is due to a lot of good, dedicated people and doing our jobs well. Word of mouth by other contractors always helps.
Masonry: Davidson’s Masonry offers services ranging from architectural consultation to comparative skin pricing to stone selection review. How have these additional services helped your business grow?
Evenson: These services are fun to do. By doing some of this, you meet a lot of architects, contractors and developers. You have input on what the projects are going to be and look like, which is nice.
Masonry: Your company completes everything from residential structures to schools and government projects. To what do you attribute this broad portfolio?
Evenson: All this boils down to good, universal people, and our crews are just that. And lots of hours and hard work. [Whether the project is] large or small, we can do them all!
Masonry: Oregon can face extremely cold temperatures several months out of the year. How do you deal with these temperatures when you’re completing masonry work for a living?
Evenson: It's not that bad, or I guess I should say that we get used to it. We cover for the rain, and that works about 90 percent of the time. Cold and snow we only go so far with, and then we will pull the pin. Usually we will only get two weeks of really cold, snowy weather here in the valley.
Masonry: What advice would you give to a budding mason contractor?
Evenson: You have to stay humble, I believe. And you have to like what you're doing, do good work and have good people. It sure doesn’t hurt to keep your word. Stay interested in your work and give back to your industry.
Masonry: Davidson’s Masonry has won numerous awards for its work. What’s your philosophy on this success in the industry?
Evenson: We just like what we do and we try to do our best on every job. Our jobs are what we are all about, so we pick jobs that we really want to do and then take a lot of pride in what we do.
Masonry: What do you feel is the biggest misconception about the masonry industry?
Evenson: That masonry is too expensive and it leaks. Everything leaks if it’s not done right. And expensive - against what, concrete? What, ugly gray concrete? All of our work is architecturally designed brick and CMU buildings. It makes concrete look terrible. You just don’t see much regular gray block; it’s colored with patterns, etc.
Masonry: What would you do to change that misconception?
Evenson: Show true cost and have them compare the finished product and the time it took when they compare brick to something else. It’s always with soldier, sailor, etc. Not just plain brick.
Masonry: What are your three biggest concerns in keeping your company successful?
Evenson: Economy. It has to stay reasonably good in order to grow and keep even. Stay humble and keep your goals set in front of you and then go for them. Good people are our No. 1 concern; the average age of our bricklayers is 48. We don’t have enough good, young people interested.
Masonry: What do you feel is the industry’s biggest challenge in the near future?
Evenson: In part, the same as the previous question. They kind of go hand in hand: Keep masonry on architects’ drawing boards. Masonry promotion is important, as well as OSHA and state/federal laws and restrictions.
Masonry: Where do you think the masonry industry is going to be 10 years from now?
Evenson: It should be better than today, with all of the training. Promotions we put on have got to help us grow, or at least maintain at the level we're at.
Masonry: What do you think will be the masonry industry’s biggest competitor in 10 years?
Evenson: Competition is always good. It also helps those of us in the industry who are working for new laws and better products. For example, lightweight block, texture and finishes, artificial products, stamped concrete, etc.
Masonry: What do you feel are the most critical issues you’ll face with future government regulations?
Evenson: The government is always a pain in the neck with its new laws and restrictions. Half the time they are already being carried out, the other half of the time it does not pertain to anything.
Masonry: Which group do you feel has a bigger impact on masonry’s future: architects, engineers or general contractors?
Evenson: No doubt: the architects. They play the biggest role in design and cost. Engineers are sometimes a debit for us to deal with, with all of the rebar lap embeds, etc., they expect. And for most general contractors, they will take masonry off their project if it benefits them in the slightest.
Masonry: What do you like most about being a member of the MCAA?
Evenson: There’s a lot to like about MCAA. Their education library is good and growing every day. Their training programs and lobbying will pay off. Their help with fighting OSHA is a big thing. The conventions are good, and Masonry magazine is great - it has lots of information.
About the Author
Masonry, the official publication of the Mason Contractors Association of America, covers every aspect of the mason contractor profession - equipment and techniques, building codes and standards, business planning, promoting your business, legal issues and more. Read or subscribe to Masonry magazine at www.masonrymagazine.com.