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Tradesmen's Software, Inc.
Seigle Hall – Washington University in St. Louis
July 5, 2018

5 on 5 with John J. Smith Masonry Company

Contractor to Contractor


The Mason Contractors Association of America (MCAA) sat down with John J. Smith, President of John J. Smith Masonry Company, to discuss the history of the company, challenges faced, and the future of the masonry industry.

MCAA: Tell us about the history of your company?

John J. Smith: John J. Smith Sr., a third generation bricklayer, began his masonry career immediately upon his return from the Korean War in 1952. He worked his way up to Vice President of a large Midwest masonry company until 1975 when he founded John J. Smith Masonry Co. We began as a small commercial company and we have continued to grow into a large nationally recognized commercial masonry company in a large union masonry town.

I secured a union apprenticeship out of college in 1979. I worked alongside my father for about 40 years. He taught me every aspect of the business. It is a family business. My first cousin is our Sr. Vice President and has been with the company for over 20 years. My son secured a union apprenticeship and is currently director of field operation.

My father passed away February of 2015. Masonry was his passion for about 65 years.

MCAA: What do you think has been the key to your company’s success?

John J. Smith
John J. Smith

Smith: For John J. Smith Masonry, the one and only reason for our success is the people that work for us. It has and will continue to be a perfect blend of people in which each and every one succeeds at their job. Not one person, including my father or myself, can take credit for tremendous success that we have experienced.

Everyday our people fight in the trenches to make it the best masonry company there is. We all take pride in being part of a project from start to completion. The overall attitude is that if someone in the organization fails for any unknown reasons, someone else will help correct the issue. Everyone has the common goal of performing any and all tasks necessary in order to exceed any and all expectations of our customer. That truly is the definition of success and makes us a successful company.

Ballpark Village St. Louis
Ballpark Village St. Louis

MCAA: What advice would you offer a budding mason contractor?

Smith: My father gave me a lot of advice in our years together. Two things that stand out are, the first is to surround yourself with smart hardworking and successful people. He let me know that you will lean on these people going up the ladder of life and down the ladder also. The second thing was to make sure your respect the work of each and every one that works for the company. Undeniably their job and stress make you appreciate their extra effort every day. One last thing is to make sure you take the time and get away from the company. You need it and so do the people that work for the company.

St. Louis University
St. Louis University

MCAA: What do you feel is the masonry industry’s biggest challenge in the future?

Smith: The most important challenge to the industry is the many different building materials and the ease of their installation. We truly have the best material and people but sometimes budgets take masonry out of the market, or at least the perception that masonry is a more expensive option.

We have learned through the years that we must market masonry and John J. Smith Masonry every day. The marketing efforts come from everyone in the company. We must continuously prove that we are the best building system, best contractor and offer the most experience/knowledge for the entire construction process.

There will always be competitive systems and materials trying to replace masonry. As these competitive materials come and go, masonry, as it has shown through the ages, is the material/structure of choice.

University of Missouri – Student Recreation Complex
University of Missouri – Student Recreation Complex

MCAA: What is your favorite aspect of being a member of the MCAA?

Smith: My favorite part of being an MCAA member is the networking opportunities. Education is critical to all of us. Valuable education through the MCAA is offered in formal presentations and maybe even more important is what we can learn from each other. It is amazing when a problem or issue is brought up, you can almost guarantee that another MCAA contractor has experienced it already and has the solution worked out. Even though we come from separate parts of the county we all have the same basic issues. Being able to sit and talk with another contractor is priceless. That goes from different materials to labor issues. The spirit to assist one another in every aspect of your business is so apparent within the MCAA. It is truly a wonderful intangible benefit of the MCAA membership and is another key part of John J. Smith Masonry’s success.

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“The amount of information that is at your finger tips is unbelievable.”

Richard Felice
Forrest & Associate, Inc.
MCAA member since 1963

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