In February at the World of Concrete trade show in Las Vegas, Oldcastle Architectural was offering hands-on installation demonstrations of its EnduraMax High Performance Wall System. And to entice passers by to place their own bricks on the demonstration wall, Oldcastle was pledging to donate money for every brick placed to the Skills USA organization. Skills USA is a non-profit training organization that helps students hone their masonry techniques. “Skills USA is committed to providing students with the education and training they need to hone their skills so they can build the hospitals, homes and army barracks we’ll need in the future,” says Bryan Light, chair of Skills USA’s national masonry technical committee. This is a worthy cause indeed.

Following the trade show, Oldcastle announced that it had donated $10,000 to Skills USA. In a statement, Ken O’Neill, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Oldcastle Architectural said: “Oldcastle issued a challenge to attendees at World of Concrete [in February 2014] to help Skills USA, and they came through for the students. … It’s great to see our trade community come together for the good of the next generation of masons and to support Skills USA’s mission.”

I, too, thought the cause was worthy and placed a brick on the EnduraMax wall during the World of Concrete (pictured). Providing masons and other construction professionals with advanced training and continuing education only serves to make our built environment better. After all, without such skills who would build and maintain the many diverse masonry structures our community designs and develops? We need the sharpest minds in construction to continue to hone their skills, just as we must continue to hone ours in the design world. 

Placing a brick on a wall at a trade show may just be a symbolic gesture, but the cumulative effect is real – just ask Skills USA. In the future, I would like to do more to help our industry develop new talent. Any suggestions you have would be welcomed. Additionally, please tell me what initiatives you pursuing to help the A/E/C industry thrive. Do you teach classes or mentor students? Do you volunteer your time or your firm’s time? Let me know. I may be able to share your benevolence with all of Masonry Design’s readership. It’s the least I could do.