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From left to right: Robert V. “Buddie” Barnes, Jr.; John Smith, Jr.; Ryan M. O’Brien; Richard Matthews; J. Gregg Borchelt; Harry E. McGraw.
From left to right: Robert V. “Buddie” Barnes, Jr.; John Smith, Jr.; Ryan M. O’Brien; Richard Matthews; J. Gregg Borchelt; Harry E. McGraw.
February 9, 2016 8:15 AM CST

Six inductees named to Masonry Hall of Fame

Barnes, Borchelt, Matthews, McGraw, O’Brien and Smith inducted to Masonry Hall of Fame


On Thursday, February 4, 2016, the Mason Contractors Association of America (MCAA) inducted six individuals into the 2016 Masonry Hall of Fame class at the MCAA Convention during the World of Concrete/World of Masonry in Las Vegas.

The 2016 Masonry Hall of Fame inductees included Robert V. “Buddie” Barnes, Jr.; J. Gregg Borchelt; Richard Matthews; Harry E. McGraw; Ryan M. O’Brien; and John J. Smith, Sr.

Robert V. “Buddie” Barnes, Jr. (third from left) with family.
Robert V. “Buddie” Barnes, Jr. (third from left) with family.

Robert V. “Buddie” Barnes, Jr.

In 1969 Robert V. “Buddie” Barnes, Jr. began his career in the masonry industry working in the yard, working on equipment and working on the trash truck helping to do job cleanup. During that period, he was approached about learning estimating for the company by doing plan takeoff work at night. By the end of the first six months, he had developed his takeoff skills to the point that he moved from the field operations into the office to become a full time estimator. Buddie worked during the day estimating for the company and attending Texas A&M University - Commerce to finish his college degree in Architecture and Business Management in the evenings. Buddie had also gotten involved with the local chapter of the Mason Contractors Association of Dallas and the American Subcontractors Association serving in various positions with both organizations. Buddie also developed a training and resource manual for Dee Brown, Inc. that included NCMA and BIA tech notes.

After receiving his Bachelor’s Degree in 1976, Buddie was assigned the role of establishing Cost to Completes on numerous projects which were being constructed by two firms that Texas Industries had acquired over the past few years. Upon successful completion of the estimates, Dee Brown Masonry and Texas Industries reached an agreement to allow Dee Brown Masonry to take over both companies.

In late 1976, Buddie was promoted to Vice President and he moved to Houston, Texas to take over Cardinal Masonry Company which would become Dee Brown Masonry, Inc. - Houston Division. Buddie was in Houston from late 1976 through mid-year 1985. During that time Buddie was involved locally as a Committee Chairman, Director and two-time President of the Associated Masonry Contractors of Houston. Buddie also served as a Director and Chairman of the Bricklayers Pension and Health and Welfare Funds during that same period. Regionally Buddie was elected in 1980 to the Associated Masonry Contractors of Texas Board of Directors serving as their Secretary/Treasurer for 1980 - 1983 and President 1983-1984. He was also recognized by the Brick Institute of Texas for his contributions to the industry in 1984.

During 1980-1985, Buddie represented the Masonry Industry as a Director and Vice President of the Houston Chapter of the American Subcontractors Association. He taught classes for these local organizations on how to review and modify subcontracts to protect themselves from overbearing General Contractors.

In 1983, Buddie represented the Masonry Institute of Houston and Galveston doing presentations at the University of Houston and University of Texas at Arlington on “Cost Options for Masonry Construction”.

In 1985, Buddie was promoted to Executive Vice President of Dee Brown Inc. which required him to return to the corporate office in Dallas, Texas. His first assignment was the reorganization from a Regional Contractor to a National Contractor. Locally in Dallas, Buddie began to get reacquainted with the local masonry group serving as a Director and President of the Mason Contractors Association of Dallas which would eventually shut down. Buddie was promoted to President and COO of Dee Brown, Inc. in January of 1990 as he completed the company reorganization.

In 1985, Dee Brown and Buddie Barnes helped Dolphus Youngblood establish Youngblood Masonry, Inc. and Buddie worked with Dolphus as his mentor. From 1985, YMI moved from a startup company to the largest minority masonry company in the region. During the first few years, Dolphus received his minority certification, his HUD certification and was performing work throughout the state of Texas. Due to Dolphus’ untimely death in 1995, Buddie was asked by the Youngblood family to step in to complete the work YMI had under contract at the time of his death and close the company down.

During this same period, Buddie became a member of ASTM C-12, C-15 and C-18 main committees along with several subcommittees related to the Masonry and Stone Industry. Since it had been about 10 years since he had developed an original Training and Resource Manual, he published an updated version of the manual with new details and additional technical information.

During the 1980’s, Buddie began serving on numerous MCAA Committees and making presentations for the industry. Buddie was appointed the first Technical Committee Chairman by President Felice and was also asked to serve as the MCAA representative to the Masonry Alliance for Codes and Standards. Buddie was a founding member of MACS and served as their Secretary Treasurer through 2000.

Buddie has served as the Region F Vice President since 2002 and also serves on the Technical and Certification Committees. In 2012, Buddie was recognized with the MCAA C. DeWitt Brown Leadman Award.

Back locally, Buddie has remained active. From 2003 - 2009, Buddie served as a Director of the United Masonry Contractor Association of Dallas. During his time on the board, he helped to develop the Golden Trowel Awards Program, serving as committee chairman from 2003 through 2006. Buddie was recognized as Contractor of the year in 2004 and served as Chairman of UMCA for 2007 - 2008. In 2009, Buddie was recognized by UMCA with a Special Award for his work leading the development of the Golden Trowel Program.

In January of 2000, Buddie was elected Chairman of the Board, President & CEO of Dee Brown, Inc. and has represented the Masonry and Stone Industry directly and indirectly with his time, talent and treasure for 46 years. He served as a Director and as Chairman of the Construction Research Center at the University of Texas at Arlington. As a Board Member of one of the largest chapters of Associated General Contractors, Buddie served as their Chairman in 2005-2006. Buddie was also elected to the six person National Specialty Contractor Board of the AGC from 1998 - 2000.

Buddie served as a Director for the Building Stone Institute. As a founding Board Member of the Construction Education Foundation, he pushed to get the Bricklaying School set up through CEF at North Lake Community College where it is held to this date.

Civically, Buddie has served his community as a Board Member and Chairman of the Baylor Institute of Rehabilitation, as a Board Member for Circle Ten Council Boy Scouts of America, Visiting Nurses Association, Salesmanship Club of Dallas, Salesmanship Club Charitable Golf of Dallas, Inc., Baylor Health Care System Foundation, and Episcopal Foundation of Dallas. His University has also kept him involved by serving as a Board member and Chairman of the Texas A&M University - Commerce Foundation, Chairman of the Distinguished Alumni Association, and currently serves as Vice Chairman of the TAMU-C Lions Athletic Club. Buddie also represents our industry annually lecturing to Construction and Engineering students at TAMU-C about “Masonry Construction”, “Masonry and Stone Materials”, and “The Proper Use of Masonry”. Buddie is currently the only contractor member on the Executive Committee of the Texas Association of Business and the Dallas Arboretum Board.

As you can see, Buddie has truly dedicated his life to Dee Brown, Inc. and the masonry industry.

J. Gregg Borchelt (right) with wife, Kathy.
J. Gregg Borchelt (right) with wife, Kathy.

J. Gregg Borchelt

Gregg Borchelt should be recognized for his important accomplishments and dedication to the masonry industry over his highly respected 40 year career.

Having received both his B.S. Degree in Civil Engineering and his M.S. Degree in Structures from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, Gregg became a registered Professional Engineer in Colorado and Texas. During his varied career, he has provided technical support for Dow Chemical, served as Director of Engineering at Masonry Systems International, and as Executive Director of the Masonry Institute of Texas in Houston. In addition, he was an affiliated consultant with Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates.

Throughout his career, Gregg has been involved in just about every major issue that the masonry industry, and specifically the brick industry, has had to address. From seismic design provisions which had the potential to limit brick’s use to the environmental, health and safety issues that threaten the industry today, Gregg’s technical prowess has helped keep the brick industry from being regulated out of business and has had an impact on the entire masonry industry.

Gregg’s presence at BIA as Director, and then Vice-President, of Engineering and Research, and finally as President and CEO has allowed BIA to maximize their impact on the design and construction community through research, articles, publications, speaking, and advocacy. His oversight of research has significantly benefited the brick industry by demonstrating that brick and brick construction provide the performance and durability required in the marketplace – especially research programs on low IRA brick, high IRA brick, and pavers. Gregg has written, critiqued, and championed many articles, publications, and presentations on brick used and referenced by architects and engineers to set the standard of practice for brick masonry. Some of his papers have been accepted by and presented at national and international masonry conferences. His long tenure in the industry has allowed him to mentor many in the masonry industry in their professional development.

Gregg has served in a variety of leadership roles within ASTM, the Construction Specification Institute (CSI), The Masonry Society (TMS), and the Masonry Standard Joint Committee (MSJC). As a voting ASTM member for 39 years of both C12 on Mortars and Grout for Masonry and C15 on Manufactured Masonry Units, he has served with distinction as Chairman of C15 and Chairman of Subcommittee C15.02 on clay brick and tile and worked tirelessly on a multitude of task groups. He has served on the Board of Directors, as Vice-President, and as Treasurer of CSI. Gregg is a founding member of TMS where he has served as Board member, Secretary, Treasurer and President. As a member of MSJC, he has participated in the development of the TMS 402 Building Code for Masonry Structures – the code accepted by engineers and architects across the country.

Gregg has received many notable awards over the years, including:
  • Fellow, Construction Specifications Institute (1990)
  • Fellow, ASTM International (1997)
  • Honorary Member, ASTM Committees C12 and C15 (2005 and 2006)
  • ASTM Alan Yorkdale Memorial Award (1996 and 1999)
  • Fellow, The Masonry Society (2005)
  • ASTM Gilbert C. Robinson Memorial Award (2009)
  • Honorary Member, The Masonry Society (2011)

Richard Matthews (right) with wife, Janet.
Richard Matthews (right) with wife, Janet.

Richard Matthews

After being discharged from the Marines in 1955, Dick was encouraged by his uncle (past president of Ohio’s Local 22 Bricklayers) and his father (also a mason) to become a mason apprentice.

In 1960, he became Vice President of Hoying Masonry, which was a charter member of the MCAA, and attended his first MCAA convention in Cincinnati that year. Twelve years later he became a partner in KMCO, Inc. a masonry contracting firm working in SW Ohio, Northern Kentucky and Western Indiana and accepted the position of President in 1982 staying until his retirement.

He maintained his affiliation with the MCAA over the years and was elected Regional Vice President in 1978, elected to the Board in 1984, served a term as President of MCAA from 1992-1993 and in 1998 received the MCAA Leadman Award.

In 1992, Dick proposed the development of the Masonry Quality Institute and with the cooperation of NCMA President John Heslip and Al Roach during 1991 and 1992 the first of classes was held May 1992 and has continued since.

In 2014, Dick was named Honorary Member of the Ohio Masonry Association for service to the Ohio Masonry Industry. Locally, he was past President of MCAD (Dayton), past Chairman of the Masonry Institute of Dayton and was a board member of the American Subcontractors Association.

George Miller, MCAA’s Past Executive Director, commented that Dick’s term as president was one of the most turbulent times in MCAA’s history due to the removal of the MCAA as trustees of the pension fund. George and Dick made numerous trips to Washington DC in 1992 and 1993 to discuss this issue, but in May of 1993 the bricklayers removed the MCAA as the organization representing management.

Harry McGraw (right) with wife.
Harry McGraw (right) with wife.

Harry E. McGraw

Harry E. McGraw, is the true epitome of what it means to “eat, breath, and live” masonry, with over 60 years of experience encompassing every aspect of the masonry industry.

Mr. McGraw, now recently retired at the age of 82, began his devoted life to masonry at the age of 17. With a skillset and work ethic like no other, Harry quickly worked his way to the top; beginning as a laborer, then moving on to apprentice, bricklayer/stone mason, foreman, superintendent, general superintendent, Vice President of Operations, and, most recently, as the retired Executive Director of Texas Masonry Council (TMC). He literally has been involved in every aspect of the masonry industry in Texas.

Harry’s masonry career began at J.E. Hoover Masonry of Shreveport, LA, beginning as a laborer and working his way up to apprentice, bricklayer/stone mason, foreman, and superintendent. Twenty of his years were spent with the Dee Brown Masonry Company (and companies that were predecessor affiliates including Herman L. May, General Masonry and Cardinal Masonry) where he became the General Superintendent for the Houston, TX office. Proficiency in identifying problems and proven resolutions excelled Harry as one of the best in the industry. On the jobsite, his communication with members of his team, contractors and designers proved to create quality expectations by all. Field operations management such as safety, equipment procurement, material delivery, cost control, job progression and construction schedule enhanced overall productivity and increased profits, once again making Harry one of the most sought after industry professionals.

Not only has Harry been involved on the masonry contractor side of the industry, but he has also promoted masonry products to architects. After Dee Brown closed its Houston office, Harry was an architectural representative for Eagle Lake Concrete Products (now owned by Headwaters Building Materials). His experience in this position brought him to Korfil, Inc. where he spent six years as an Architectural Representative, Regional Manager and Vice President. As Vice President, Harry used his expansive knowledge of masonry to help troubleshoot problems for the entire United States. Returning to his true passion, Harry spent the next seventeen years with Lucia, Inc. of Houston, TX (a wholly owned masonry and natural stone subcontractor subsidiary of the Linbeck Corporation). Harry’s unique ability to implement effective policies and procedures, enhance jobsite productivity, increase efficiency and meet benchmarks ultimately earned him the title Vice President of Operations.

Over the course of Harry’s career, he has been responsible for the masonry/natural stone work on many high-profile and award winning projects including: Minute Maid Park (formerly Enron Field), Reliant Stadium, George Bush Presidential Library at Texas A&M University, James Baker Institute for Public Policy and the Jesse Jones Graduate School at Rice University, the Wortham Center, the Hobby Performing Arts Center, the Bass Performing Arts Hall and the Fort Worth Modern Art Museum.

Most recently, Harry served as the Executive Director of the Texas Masonry Council, retiring in April of 2012. His masonry experience coupled with his ability to connect with masonry contractors and suppliers alike, management skills and integrity took an association lacking direction and placed it on a path to success. Rick Dunn, President of the TMC in 2010 and 2011, looks back at his years as President by remembering Harry as the first call of the morning (most of the time Harry called prior to 7:00 a.m.). Rick says, “Harry’s dedication to TMC and in general the masonry business as a whole motivated him every day to get up early and start thinking of ways to improve our market share of wall space in Texas. I found his knowledge to be the most complete of anyone I have been associated with. Harry can talk in detail about wall systems, installing wall systems in the most profitable ways, and even selling those products. His experience is wide, vast and complete. In addition, Harry is a Christian gentleman who is kind, ethical, honest and intelligent. Harry is the youngest person I know with over 60 years promoting masonry.”

Throughout Harry’s career, his dedicated wife Lois has proudly stood by his side. Lois is also a champion of masonry, consistently accompanying him to local meetings, TMC events and MCAA conventions. To this day, Harry is still full of life and vigor and is currently enjoying retirement by continuing to work! He is offering independent masonry consulting services and is currently working with Crow Holdings on the Old Parkland Project in Dallas, TX. When an expert advisor is needed, Harry offers an objective point of view, while providing a high level of knowledge of best practices.

A proud husband, father, grandfather, and devoted industry promoter, Harry E. McGraw is an individual who is truly deserving of the MCAA Masonry Hall of Fame Honor.

Ryan M. O’Brien (left) with fiancée, Jean.
Ryan M. O’Brien (left) with fiancée, Jean.

Ryan M. O’Brien

The California Conference of Mason Contractors Association, (CCMCA) was incorporated in California as a non-profit corporation on April 1, 1963. Ryan M. O’Brien, who operated as a mason contractor from 1948 until 1962 and was very active in the Mason Contractors Exchange of Southern California, Inc. proposed in 1960 that the Association establish an Executive Council of the Exchange and invite the other surrounding mason contractor associations to join in the establishment of this Executive Council. Local associations in the San Fernando Valley, Long Beach, Orange County, San Bernardino, and Ventura County became members of the Executive Council and Ryan M. O’Brien served as its first Chairman.

This organization gave the mason contractors much greater voice in labor negotiations representing almost all the signatory mason contractors in Southern California. The idea of establishing a single organization to represent Southern California prompted the idea that expanding statewide would provide even greater benefits. Ryan O’Brien agreed to stop contracting for three to six months and visit the other mason contractor associations in California and encourage them to join this new statewide organization. O’Brien flew his Cessna 195 to the meetings of these associations and obtained their signatures on the Articles of Incorporation of the CCMCA.

The Mason Contractors Association of San Diego and Imperial Counties was the first to join with the Los Angeles group to establish a statewide organization. They were followed by the Mason & Builders Association of California, Inc. in San Francisco, the Associate Mason Contractors of Santa Clara and San Benito Counties, and the Mason Contractors Association of Sacramento, Inc. These four (4) organizations along with the six local chapters of the Executive Council of Southern California became the Charter Members of the CCMCA, Inc.

CCMCA continued to expand its membership and mission, ultimately, representing both open-shop and signatory mason contractors of all sizes and specialties on a variety of issues related to the trade. Its 10 regional chapters were comprised of mason contractors as well as suppliers with ties to the masonry industry.

In 2012, the Association restructured broadening its geographic territories from chapters to 3 primary regions (northern California, southern California, and San Diego/Imperial Counties), extending member voting rights, and taking on a new identity as the Mason Contractors Association of California, Inc. (MCAC).

The San Diego Mason Contractors were the first Local Chapter outside the Los Angeles area to join and to help establish the CCMCA.

John J. Smith, Jr. (left) with family.
John J. Smith, Jr. (left) with family.

John J. Smith, Sr.

If you have ever had the pleasure of visiting the office of John J. Smith Sr., founder of John J. Smith Masonry Company, over the last 4 decades, you would have recalled the numerous memorabilia of John Wayne that decorates his office. The office itself was a shrine which included a signed photograph by “The Duke” himself and was emblematic of Mr. Smith’s style - generous and loyal to a fault to his friends and industry colleagues and a force to be reckoned with for competitors and those who crossed his principle view of the world.

John J. Smith Sr. entered the construction industry on his return from military service in Korea in 1952, repairing furnaces at the Scullen Steel Mill, located on Manchester Avenue just east of St. Louis City limits. A short time later, he became an apprentice at Roy A. Elam Masonry where he rose from journeyman apprentice to vice president. In 1975, he left Elam to pursue his own business where he would later incorporate John J. Smith Masonry in 1977.

Over the years, the firm has been the masonry contractor on projects throughout the St. Louis area that are emblematic of masonry craftsmanship and excellence.

In 2000, when Mr. Smith was the chairman of MISL, he received the “Lead Man” award from the Mason Contractors Association of America (MCAA). The national award which annually recognizes one individual who has made significant contributions to the masonry industry. In presenting the award, MCAA president Donald Larson noted: “Few industry individuals have ever received the prestigious MCAA Lead Man Award. John Smith has served his industry in numerous capacities and has been a catalyst for elevating the MCAA into a respected national construction association.”

In October of 2014, Engineering News-Record reported that John J. Smith Masonry Company, the firm Mr. Smith founded, was the seventh largest masonry contracting firm in the United States.

Mr. Smith’s philosophy and longstanding presence on the St. Louis construction scene can be summed up in his own words: “When we are able to establish professional relationships that are truly beneficial, we truly have our fingers on the pulse of the industry”.

The following list highlights the many volunteer responsibilities and significant accomplishments that exemplifies the tireless dedication of John Smith Sr. and his impact on the masonry industry.


  • Mason Contractors Association of America: Lead Man Award recipient (2000)
  • Mason Contractors Association of America: Region “E” Vice President (7 years)

Regional & Local

  • Mason Contractors Association of St. Louis: St. Louis Arbitration Board (1978-1996)
  • Mason Contractors Association of St. Louis: President (1984-1986)
  • Mason Contractors Association of St. Louis: Vice President (1982-1984)
  • Mason Contractors Association of St. Louis: Secretary (1980-1982)
  • Mason Contractors Association of St. Louis: Treasurer (1978-1980)
  • Mason Contractors Association of St. Louis: OSHA Safety Partnership
  • Masonry Institute of St. Louis: Chairman (1990-2001)
  • Bricklayers’ Union Local No. 1: Apprentice Fund, Trustee (1984-1994)
  • Bricklayers’ Union Local No. 1: Pension/Welfare/Supplemental Pension Boards: Management Trustee (1980-2014)
  • AGC - Eastern Missouri Laborers’ Joint Training Fund: Trustee (1991-2014)
  • Certified Mason Contractor
  • Cardinal Ritter Board of Directors

Professional & Personal

  • John J. Smith Masonry: Founder and President (1977-2000)
John Smith, Sr. not only invested in every employee at John J. Smith Masonry, he invested in the masonry industry through leadership, example, and passion.

About the Masonry Hall of Fame

The 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 for additional information and a full list of Masonry Hall of Fame members.

About the Author

Tim O’Toole is the Director of Marketing for the Mason Contractors Association of America (MCAA). He has a Masters in Business Administration from Webster University and has worked in the masonry industry since 2003.


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