Success story: Zack Zuidema
Student in the Spotlight
A fourth-generation mason, Zack Zuidema always assumed he would work in the family business his father had built, Jimmy ‘Z Masonry Corp. He had been around masonry his entire life, after all. But his real passion for the trade didn’t come to fruition until he was in college.
Working summers and winters as a laborer and an estimator taught Zuidema many aspects of the masonry business beyond the brick and mortar. He admired the masonry trade for the rich history it holds and opulence it can create. It was during this time of his life that he fell in love with masonry as a career.
“Masonry is the oldest trade in existence and, obviously, has an amazing history with the versatility and beauty that can be accomplished with brick and stone,” Zuidema says. “At the same time, the buildings can be admired for generations.”
Zuidema has competed in numerous regional competitions as well as large-scale competitions during World of Concrete/World of Masonry in Las Vegas. He won first place in the 2015 MCAA Masonry Skills Challenge, second-year apprentice division.
In May 2015, Zuidema won a regional competition that qualified him to compete in the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers’ Apprentice Contest, held in Maryland at the John J. Flynn BAC (Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers) National Training Center. He placed in the Top 10, which qualified him to compete in the BAC/IMI (International Masonry Institute) International Apprentice Contest, where he took first place. His next competition will take place during World of Concrete/World of Masonry, when he’ll compete in the Skills Challenge as a third-year apprentice.
Clearly, Zuidema is leaving his mark in masonry by winning numerous competitions and forging a career at Jimmy ‘Z Masonry. And, as he will tell you, he didn’t get to this level alone. In addition to hands-on training throughout his life, he has benefitted from instruction through the IMI, where he received training through the Apprentice Program at the District Council Training Center in Addison, Ill.
“This program basically starts from the ground, up with everything masonry, in order to build up the apprentices with everything they would need to know about the trade,” Zuidema says. “Through classroom time spent learning about the industry to hands-on training with all the various materials or projects we might run into on a job, the training center really does a good job at preparing an apprentice for the field.”
Zuidema encourages anyone considering masonry as a career to give it a try. “Being a very physical trade, it is understandable that people can get worn out or frustrated,” he says. “But if there were ever an instance when working hard can get you ahead, masonry would be it.”
Zuidema reiterates that companies are always looking for young, driven, ambitious people, and the career can offer a good living. He refers to his favorite quote from Thomas Jefferson: “I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.”
About the Author
J. David Holt, freelance writer and owner of Holt Marketing Group Inc., has been reporting on the SkillsUSA National Masonry Contest since 1994.