Monroe, NC Apprentice Wins Prestigious Masonry Competition
Triangle Brick Company Hosts Annual Masonry Competition
By Lynn Nash
Nineteen-year-old Huntley Brothers Company apprentice Jace Huntley of Monroe is the 2019 Champion of the North Carolina Masonry Contractors Association (NCMCA) Annual Samuel A. McGee Memorial Masonry Apprentice Skills Contest and takes home the prestigious David R. Sigmon Award for best score in the competition along with serious cash and tool prizes. The May 18th contest was held at Triangle Brick Company in Durham, NC who hosted the event along with the NCMCA Raleigh Chapter. Thirty-one contestants from eight NCMCA member firms competed.
Rounding out the top-ten were Drew Huntley, Huntley Brothers Company, second place; Reece Hallman, McGee Brothers Company, third place; Grant Helms, Helms Masonry, fourth place; Justin Isenhour, McGee Brothers Company, fifth place; Errol McGee, McGee Brothers Company, sixth place; Rex Huntley, Huntley Brothers Company, seventh place; Ashton White, Gates Construction Company, eighth place; Esequiel Gayton, Brodie Contractors, ninth place; and Harron McGee, McGee Brothers Company, tenth place.
Contestants had two hours to build a predetermined masonry panel later judged for measurement, range, level, plumb, proper design and other criteria by a team of experienced journeymen masons. Top-ten scores ranged from 1003 points to 943 out of a possible 1050. The McGee Memorial Contest is one of the very few apprentice contests in the country that only allow two hours for construction. Most are three hours or more.
The “third time is the charm” for Jace. He competed in the 2017 and 2018 contests, finishing in eighth place in 2018. 2019 completes his eligibility for the McGee contest. Winning the McGee competition earns Jace the opportunity to represent North Carolina at the Mason Contractors Association of America (MCAA) International Skills Competition in February 2020 at the Las Vegas World of Concrete.
Jace is the third child of Chet and Donna Huntley, one of six. He has one sister, Jade, the oldest, and four brothers Jansen, Cannon, Dash and Gunner. Jace graduated Penn Foster High School one month before turning sixteen and began working for Huntley Brothers upon graduation. His supervisor is Robbie Watson and Chaney Huntley is his foreman. Jace works as an assistant foreman.
Dad Chet Huntley says, “Outside of work, Jace loves CrossFit and basketball. Jace and three of his cousins bought a sixteen-passenger Moomba ski boat last year and he loves to wake-board in the summer. And snow board in the winter, which his mom thinks he is a little reckless on. He is always doing something.”
2019 marks four consecutive years that Huntley Brothers Company of Mint Hill, NC has fielded the McGee Memorial winning apprentice.
Triangle Brick Company’s Director of Sales, Ken Holland, commented on hosting the event, saying, “For me personally, and for Triangle Brick Company as a whole, it is a great honor to participate in continuing to further the legacy of Sam McGee and support the efforts of NCMCA. Sam’s mantra, “Fame, Fortune, and Glamour,” as a way to keep young folks excited and involved in wanting to be a part of the masonry industry is deeply ingrained within me. We certainly had “Fame, Fortune, and Glamour” for all of the contestants (at the contest.) To me, the event was like watching a great athletic event that came right down to the wire. I believe that is exactly how Sam wanted the competition to be.”
Samuel Alexander McGee (1939-2015) was co-founder and President of McGee Brothers Company in Monroe. Recognized as an innovator in the industry, Sam was inducted into the Masonry Contractors Association of America “Hall-of-Fame” in 2014. He was inducted into the National Masonry Instructors Association “Hall-of-Fame” in 2012 and was among the first individuals to earn the designation “Certified Masonry Executive” in the NCMCA Masonry Contractor Certification Program. He had a passion for the masonry industry and for encouraging and teaching young people craft skills, especially masonry. In recognition of his contribution and dedication to masonry in the Carolinas, the annual contest is named in his memory.
The apprentice that finishes with the top score in the contest is presented the “David R. Sigmon Award” as first place finisher of the Samuel A. McGee Memorial Apprentice Skills Contest. The award is named in memory of David Sigmon, a journeyman mason from Hickory who passed away in 1998 while serving as NCMCA president-elect and who had been active in promoting this contest and other programs around the state to recruit and develop young craftsmen for masonry careers.
Every contestant took home cash and tool prizes thanks to the generous contributions of NCMCA member firms and friends who also provided labor, equipment and materials.
The 2020 Samuel A. McGee Contest is set for Saturday May 16th at Carolina Stalite’s Ben Ketchie Park in Gold Hill hosted by Johnson Concrete Products and the NCMCA Metrolina Chapter.
The North Carolina Masonry Contractors Association was chartered in 1974 and works on behalf of the industry and its employees to promote masonry as the building material of choice and as a great career opportunity. For more information, visit www.ncmca.com.
About the Author
Lynn Nash is the Executive Vice President for the North Carolina Masonry Contractors Association.