Three inductees named to Masonry Hall of Fame
2014 Masonry Hall of Fame inductees included Tom Daniel, Sam McGee and Marcus Vasquez
By Tim O’Toole
On Thursday, January 23, 2014, the Mason Contractors Association of America (MCAA) inducted three mason contractors into the 2014 Masonry Hall of Fame class at the MCAA Convention during the World of Concrete/World of Masonry in Las Vegas.
The 2014 Masonry Hall of Fame inductees included Tom Daniel, Sam McGee and Marcus Vasquez.
Tom DanielTom Daniel procured GBC Concrete & Masonry in 1993. He has served on local, state and national boards including:
- MCAA Region H Vice President
- California Conference of Mason Contractor Associations, Inc. Board 1998-2001
- MCAA Secretary 2002-2004
- MCAA Treasurer 2004-2006
- MCAA Vice President 2006-2008
- MCAA President 2008-2010
- Chairman of The Masonry Foundation
- Judge for numerous masonry competitions
Tom helped create the Vision 2020 program and has led the charge in encouraging architects, general contractors and others to build with masonry.
Honors throughout his career include winning the C. DeWitt Brown Leadman Award in 2011 and being named 2011 Masonry Construction Leader of the Year.
Sam McGeeSam was born on March 7, 1939 at his parents home in Unionville, North Carolina into a farming family of six brothers and three sisters. In high school, he excelled in baseball and often uses sports analogies when talking to young folks about careers in masonry. In his senior year, he scored the only run in his high school's championship baseball game.
After graduating, Sam took a part-time job with the Western Auto Company while waiting to begin work for another firm that hired him right out of school. He proved to be very good at the job and the district manager convinced him to stay on. At age 19, Western Auto moved him to Jacksonville, Florida to be the office manager for the company's largest store east of the Mississippi. Three years later, his success in Jacksonville resulted in his transfer to Asheville, North Carolina to become the General Manager of a store that was slated to close because of poor performance. The store remained open.
Sam continued to gain management experience working as a manager for National Cash Register (NCR) during the mid-sixties.
In 1969, Sam saw opportunity in the construction industry and went to work for Huntley Brothers Masonry, a firm managed by his brother-in-law, Clete Huntley. From there, he went to work for his brother Bill who also had a masonry company. In 1971, concerned that no one was teaching him how to lay brick, Sam hired his brother Don from Huntley Brothers to begin a new company. Don was the only brick mason in the new masonry contracting firm. Don made a deal with Sam: "If you'll teach me how to sell, I'll teach you how to lay brick." Don told Sam that convincing him to leave his job to work for Sam proved that Sam must be the greatest salesman in the world. At that point, they became partners in McGee Brothers Company. Sam managed the new company while he learned the trade. By 1980, Bill, Harry Lee and Mike McGee and the Huntley Brothers, Clete, Dwayne and Theron, had all become a part of the McGee Brothers Company.
The McGee-Huntley tie was more than business however. Sam, his bother Don, and his sister Lib married two Huntley sisters (Midge and Gladys) and a Huntley brother (Clete.) “Family” has always played a huge role in the success of the company.
McGee Brothers Company would evolve into one of the most successful masonry contracting firms in the nation and for years, would top "ENR News" and "Masonry Construction Magazine's" list of the country's largest masonry contractors. Specializing in residential masonry in the booming Charlotte market, the company pioneered one-stop, turnkey masonry installation, adding a level of professionalism in appearance and performance that was rare in the industry at that time. A mission statement evolved: “To bring professionalism and orderliness to our industry. To make it simple, pleasant and affordable to do business with us. To enable our employees to learn, progress, and earn in proportion to their contribution.”
The company has been an innovator from the start. Their first piece of equipment was the modified Ford farm tractor-tuned-forklift that Sam and Don rented from their father. (The restored relic is still on display at the company shop.) Sam worked to make masonry "fun" and knew the way to accomplish that was to take away as much of the drudgery as possible. Scoops replaced shovels, forklifts replaced wheelbarrows, scaffolding became adjustable, pickup truck beds were replaced with utility bodies. Innovation included marketing. Builders learned that McGee Brothers Company provided trouble-free masonry service and lots of options for making homes attractive to buyers.
Sam and McGee Brothers have always been promoters not just of the product, but also of masonry careers. Nephew Travis McGee still holds the world's record for brick laying from a competition some twenty-years ago in Texas. Two McGee Brothers employees (now both “in-laws”) have won the SpecMix Bricklayer 500 three times between them. Numerous company employees and former employees are state and national bricklaying champions. Sam is a regular at high schools and career events promoting masonry to young people and to their parents. As part of that effort, the company has raised standards of professionalism to the point that Sam tells people that, in his community, dads and moms aspire for their daughters to marry brick masons, not just doctors and lawyers.
Sam has traveled the country promoting masonry and speaking on behalf of the industry. As he says, people love to hear a success story. But one of the reasons we recommend him for the Hall of Fame is because he is always glad to share the McGee Brothers story with fellow masons and to help upcoming masons succeed, even potential competitors. He truly believes that anything he can do to help the industry ultimately is in the best interest of us all. Sam and McGee Brothers constantly provide their equipment and facilities for masonry competitions, industry training, construction association meetings and tours.
In the summer of 2012, The National Masonry Instructors Association inducted him into their own "Hall of Fame."
Sam is attempting to retire from the company but the challenging economy has convinced him to stay on for a while longer. Good for us.
Marcus VasquezMarc Vasquez's lifelong career began in 1954 he worked as an apprentice bricklayer under the watchful eye of his uncle, Francis Sills, at Fruin Colnon in St. Louis. In 1956, he left to serve his country as a helicopter mechanic when he was drafted into the army. Even with time spent away, upon his return in 1958, he did not hesitate to continue working in the masonry trade, being employed by two area contractors until 1967. After 13 years as an apprentice/journeyman bricklayer and with six kids under the age of 10, Marcus L. Vasquez ventured into the masonry business known as M.L. Vasquez, Inc. in the spring of 1967. Until his retirement in 2003, Marc not only created and managed a successful business, but formed a legacy of dedication and purpose to his trade.
As time evolved, he mastered the bidding and financial aspect of his company, while simultaneously having an extreme desire to promote the Southern Illinois masonry industry. In 1978 Marcus Vasquez was in the forefront of forming the Southwestern Illinois Mason Contractors Association, now known as the Masonry Institute of Southern Illinois. Throughout the next quarter century, Marc attended nearly every regularly scheduled meeting, coordinated and joined in countless bricklayer and laborer negotiations, and served as an officer for SWIMCA and MISI organizations. In addition, he acted as Executive Director for MISI, attended numerous MCAA annual conventions from the west to east coasts, and was a trustee for the Bricklayers' Local No. 8 Pension, Health & Welfare Boards. Furthermore, he served as a board member with the International Masonry Institute and was a long-time member of MCAA. His influence established mason tender certification boards in two laborers' district councils in Southern Illinois. For job efficiency, he demanded that the Southern Illinois mason tenders act as equipment operators, exclusively for the masonry trade, which is now part of the Southern Illinois Laborer Agreements. Also, because of his strong belief for continuing education, he orchestrated numerous trainings for those in the masonry industry. These leadership contributions most certainly benefited all Southern Illinois masonry contractors.
Marc was pleased to see the Masonry Institute of Southern Illinois regular meetings grow from an average of three attendees in the early years to twenty plus contractors and associate member/suppliers consistently attending. He enjoyed and valued the camaraderie among the masonry contractors at meetings and social events momentarily setting aside the business competitiveness, not only at the local level, but nationally as well.
He proudly conveyed his passion of masonry contracting and the promotion of the industry to three of his seven children. His oldest son, Mark, began his residential masonry company in 1987. Meanwhile, his daughter, Lori, and son, Rodney, purchased his business, M.L. Vasquez, Inc., in 2003. Presently, both sons, Mark and Rodney, remain active members of the Masonry Institute of Southern Illinois. Mark is currently holding the office of vice president of the Masonry Institute of Southern Illinois. Both are also members of the Mason Contractors Association of America. Additionally, they both are trustees on the Bricklayers' Local No. 8 Pension, and Health & Welfare Boards. Furthermore, Rodney is a member of the Bricklayers' Local No. 8 Apprentice Board. Moreover, his daughter, Lori, had performed administrative duties for the Masonry Institute of Southern Illinois for approximately ten years, and his daughter-in-law, Lynn, is presently the Executive Director of the Masonry Institute of Southern Illinois, having been the administrative assistant since 1989. It is evident through the continuation of his children's contributions to the masonry industry, that the old adage stands strong, "Children LEARN what they LIVED. "
Even after his retirement, Marc's fervor and talent in the masonry field continued. In November of 2004, he joined a Christian mission group who traveled to Lesotho, South Africa, to build a church block by block. This two-week trip at age 70 gave Marc great satisfaction to create a building with such purpose to the local village people.
It is impossible to truly convey Marc's altruism with his time, energy and finances. He was a tireless leader in the masonry trade throughout Southern Illinois for decades. Marc was often heard repeating a quote by Confucius, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life." Consequently, Marc never really did "work!"
About the Masonry Hall of FameThe Masonry Hall of Fame was created to recognize and award those individuals who have dedicated their lives to the masonry industry. Each year, nominations are accepted to recognize individuals who have had a major impact on the masonry industry, not necessarily with just the MCAA, and have been in the industry for a minimum of 25 years.
All inductees are nominated by their peers and carefully reviewed by a panel of judges. Nominees must receive six of eight eligible votes in order to be accepted into the Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony is held during the Closing Banquet of the MCAA Convention at the World of Concrete/World of Masonry in Las Vegas.
Please visit www.masoncontractors.org/hall-of-fame for additional information and a full list of Masonry Hall of Fame members.
About the Author
Tim O’Toole is the Director of Marketing, Education, and Information Technology for the MCAA. He has a Masters in Business Administration from Webster University and has worked in the masonry industry since 2003.