Profiling a winner: Fred Campbell
By Shelley Ross
Congratulations to the 2013 SPEC MIX BRICKLAYER 500 competition winner, Fred Campbell, whose craftsmanship, passion for masonry and talent for mentoring make him an exemplary figure in his field. I recently sat down and spoke with Campbell, who owns and operates Jonesborough, Tenn.-based Creative Masonry Inc.
Campbell was hooked on masonry from the moment he first began laying bricks alongside his father in his youth. “My dad was a mason contractor and had been for all his life,” says Campbell. “Dad taught me everything he knew and was really strict with me. He always taught me to do a good job and do it like it was your own house. If you would not accept your work on your house, don’t expect someone else to accept it that way.”
These words of wisdom have stuck with Campbell throughout his entire career, which began in earnest when he took over his father's business at age 18. Now 41, he credits the success of his career and company to this commitment to quality, which is a source of great satisfaction for him and his employees.
“We take a lot of pride in our work and that pride goes well beyond what most masons would do,” Campbell says, noting that Creative Masonry takes on both residential and commercial projects, whether brick or block.
Campbell took over Creative Masonry more than 20 years ago. Ninety percent of the company’s 50 employees have been with the company for more than a decade, including his brother, who holds a position of foreman, and his 75-year-old father, who works as his “gopher.” Campbell trained or retrained the majority of his employees and believes mentored training is essential to the survival of the masonry industry.
“There are a lot of brick and block layers, but there are very few masons,” he says, pointing out that very few people in the industry actually can build fireplaces, chimneys, arches and other decorative elements.
Demand for this high level of masonry craftsmanship exists, yet few in the “new generation” are being taught these invaluable skills. Thus, apprenticeship programs and masonry associations like the MCAA are essential for the survival of the industry.
“A lot of the older guys retired when the economy went bad,” Campbell says. “And it’s hard to find younger men who like laying brick. A lot give up on it before they even start.”
The MCAA provides plenty of guidance to its members on how to pass on their passion and experience to the next generation through recruiting and mentoring programs.
“We are really fortunate that we do what we do,” Campbell says. “It's a good career choice.”
About the Author
Shelley Ross is director of marketing for Boral Bricks, a clay brick and paver manufacturer. She may be reached at Shelley.Ross@boral.com.