Two Bricklayers Local 1 members demonstrated the high skill level of their craft representing Missouri in the “Super Bowl of Masonry” the Spec Mix 500® World Championship contest held in Las Vegas on Feb. 5, and came out in the top 10 of the more three dozen competitors from across America.
Local 1 members J.T. Payne and his tenderer, brother Jakob Payne, are third generation bricklayers, employed by Foeste Masonry in Cape Girardeau. They qualified in the Missouri Regionals last September by laying a 692-brick wall in an hour, besting their nearest competitor by more than a hundred bricks.
“We’re extremely proud of the Payne brothers,” said Local 1 Business Manager Brian Jennewein. “They are true examples of the skills and dedication Local 1 training does for our members, which translates to quality results for our contractors and, in turn, providing the public with quality construction that will last.”
An article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch prior to the national contest described their teamwork:
“First, J.T. builds up the leads — the wall’s ends — and then connects them with a string line pulled tight. His pace quickens as he closes in on the middle of the wall. Jakob feeds him a brick. J.T. adjusts it, slaps on mortar, spreads it smooth, tamps it level. Adjust, slap, spread, tamp. Over and over. It’s an exacting, exhausting dance.”
SECOND TIME TO COMPETE
This is the Payne brother’s second time to compete in the Spec Mix 500® World Championship, having previously taken first place in the 2018 regional championship.
“As this was our second time, we were not as nervous and certainly better prepared, but it’s always a challenge,” J.T. told the Labor Tribune. “We were honored to make it back again representing Missouri and Local 1. We represented them with pride.”
He noted that Local 1’s apprenticeship program provided him and his brother with great basic skills and “the union’s push to ensure we learn to provide quality work made a difference.”
J.T. has been a Local 1 member for eight years, Jakob for four years.
3RD GENERATION BRICKLAYERS
The two are third generation bricklayers working for Foeste Masonry. Their grandparents, Kenny and Judy Foeste, started the company in 1973. At the 2019 World of Concrete contest, Kenny was inducted into the Masonry Hall of Fame. Their son, the Payne brothers’ uncle, Mark Foeste, twice earned the “Best Trowel on the Block” title in the 90’s. He serves as J.T.’s coach.
The competition tests each contestant’s skills building a 26-foot-long wall with the fewest errors, in one hour.
The wall is two bricks deep (each brick is four pounds) and 80 bricks long. Infractions and imperfections count against a contestant’s total brick count; a variance of a quarter inch from the leads to the middle means a 25-brick deduction. Mortar joints that are too thick or too thin can cost 50 bricks.
The winner laid 756 bricks after penalties. The Payne brothers initially laid 774 bricks, but three penalties brought their final total to 699.
The Bricklayer 500 is the highlight of four contests challenging different bricklayers skills.
Nearly a dozen family members were on hand to cheer J.T. and Jakob on, wearing “Team Payne” tee shirts.