The life of a mason contractor
I awake around 4 a.m. and lie there for a moment, wondering what the day may hold. Knowing a lawyer is lying in his bed thinking of a way to increase his business opportunities, I just wonder if I am on his mind. Then I wonder what government agency might be visiting, introducing me to new regulations.
Then there is my workforce, I have great people, but I still wonder how many will be missing for various reasons, not excluding the few that will say, “Boss I’m just too drunk today,” and it’s only Wednesday. Then I sit on the edge of the bed, and I think about all the equipment I have invested in. I know some of it is getting old, like me, and most likely, we will have some break downs today that will cost plenty to fix or replace. Then I try to think about something better, like the jobs we are bidding today. That almost gets me out of bed, but then, I think about the other 15 contractors who will be bidding the same job. Then, I can almost hear the horrifying words of my estimators saying, “Boss we are low bid,” and I know that means we made the biggest mistakes.
I get up and head for my morning reformation of my current appearance. As I walk, I think about payroll, payroll taxes and insurance, and that means workers comp, liability and health, equipment notes, and our line of credit at the bank.
I reach the mirror, and I look back at the face I see and say, “Wow!” I see wrinkles that I don’t recall seeing and gray hairs in my mustache, eyebrows, and even in my ears and nose. Then, as I gaze into those eyes, I see a mason contractor. I see a business man who cared and wanted to do everything right. I see determination, resolve, humility and most of all a desire to succeed. I quickly get myself looking presentable and ready for the great day ahead. I pick up my Bible and read a few scriptures that inspire me, and drop to my knees and pray with my wife, asking God to make this day the very best one of our life. Off to work I go, determined to do my part to make it a great day! Of course, I have to stop by Starbucks for coffee, read the local newspaper, and discuss the day’s affairs with my Liberal friend. That does me good, because I am always right.
I arrive at the office and, by now, we know everything will be ok. Sure enough, there’s a letter from some lawyer with a strange name representing someone you do not know. The letter states his client (a lady) drove passed one of our projects, and some kind of liquid with a very unpleasant odor splattered her windshield. I forward the letter to my very expensive lawyer and inform him we weren’t even on the job the day she claimed we splattered something on her windshield.
I inform him that I heard that a crane was lifting the Porta John off the top floor, and a strap broke. The Porta John fell five floors, and there was a great splash. I can’t help but think about the source of the strange odor. Then my phone rings, and my top superintendent informs me that OSHA was on the job. I tell him to assure everything was in order. He says, “Boss, it is, but I overheard them talking about some new regulation, and I just hope we are ok.”
He calls back a short time later and informs me everything went great. I get my morning reports and find only 10 percent of my workforce is missing work. Not bad, considering a couple of days before, it was 20 percent. It’s a busy day, there are no equipment breakdowns, and we are low on a job but only by 2 percent.
It was great day, and now it’s time to go to the ranch and start over. As I sit on my ranger looking at my cattle, I ask myself, “Why am I a mason contractor?” After thinking about it, the answer is all around me. It has provided us a good living. We do it honestly, and we build the most beautiful and sustainable buildings on earth. Not only do we affect the lives of many today, but for many years beyond. With each building, we are building and creating a legacy for the masonry industry.
I am proud to be a mason contractor and a member of an association that looks out for the good and the benefit of a mason contractor. Thank you, MCAA, for everything you do for us. Until next time, this old cowboy says, “Shoot for the moon and, even if you miss, you will land among the stars!”
About the Author
Mackie Bounds is Owner of Brazos Masonry, Inc., in Waco, Texas, and has served as Treasurer, Secretary, Vice President and President of the MCAA. In 1989, Bounds started Brazos Masonry, and his first act of business was to join MCAA. He has always been active in the masonry industry. He became the first subcontractor to be elected to the Board of Directors of the Central Texas AGC and subsequently was elected to the National AGC Board of Directors. In 1995, he was elected as the first President of the Central Texas Mason Contractors Association. Bounds spent eight years on the MCAA Executive Board, including two years as President from 2010-2012 and was the recipient of the 2013 C. DeWitt Brown Leadman Award.