Page 34 - 2018 SPEC MIX BRICKLAYER 500 World Championship Magazine
P. 34
1 MATT 2017 CHAMPION

CASH

TENDER: CHET HUNTLEY

COMPANY: Huntley Brothers Company, Inc.
Mint Hill, NC

The coveted SPEC MIX BRICKLAYER 500 trophy draws the industry’s hopefuls and in-
creasingly acts as a motivator to excel. “Not everybody can do the SPEC MIX BRICKLAY-
ER 500, just like not every body can play football.” 2017 SMBL500 Champion Matt Cash

2017 World’s Best Bricklayer reflects on winning and how the win has enabled him to introduce masonry to young adults,

“You have to have ‘IT’. You have got to have the drive, the mental, and physical capabilities. I
was going to go out there to win it. Never once did I not think that. If you don’t think you can win it, you are not going to win.”

Friendship is what lured Cash into masonry. When he was a freshman in high school, a couple of his buddies were older and in the masonry class. “I want-
ed to hang out with my buddies so I got into masonry. It was fun. I picked it up quick, and I was good at it. I always wanted to be faster than everybody,
ever since the start of it.” Some of those same guys were working over the summer with the McGee Brothers and helped hook Cash up with a job.

“On the job laying brick and being in class laying brick are two totally different things, two totally different worlds. In class you are taught to lay a brick
with a level - you have an instrument to help you make the brick straight. On the job, you have a line and how you make it straight is with your hand and
with your eyes. You feel it. You see it down the line. It’s more efficient to use a line. A four-foot level controls the brick wall size in school. In the real world
masonry spans are 100 feet long. High school helps a ton. You figure out how to lay a brick, spread the wall, and about head joints. But you only get so far
with that unless you are pushed or when things get bigger. In the real world, you have to figure out how to do it without a level or you get left behind.”

By 2013, Cash had joined the Huntley Brothers team. His first chance at the SMBL500 was in 2016. The lessons and practice he gained there catapulted
him to a 2017 win. “It’s a timing thing. I know where I need to be at 20 minutes, I know where I need to be at 30, at 40 minutes. Instead of me running into
a problem while in the competition, I set up for a problem for the competition. I put down 9000 extra brick practicing. When I am laying out my head joints,
I measure all the brick to make sure they are all the same. If they are not all the same, I will throw in a bigger joint here and there to allow for that.”

“And it’s a thinking thing. You have got to think your way through this. It should take me 40 seconds to spread the wall, if I am not doing 40 seconds then
that means I am running low and that I have to pick it up somewhere else. When I build my leads it should take me 4 minutes on the first lead and 4 on the
second lead, so I should be laying brick by 8 minutes.”

Before the 2017 start, Cash walked around. “There were maybe two or three other guys that laid their wall out just like me. There are a lot of people that
set up their bases to where there is no way they can maintain the measurements the way they need to. Look at the head joints. There is no way to lay brick
that fast with ¾ inch head joints and expect to keep them from expanding. The result is going to be a deduction off the final brick count. A lot had huge
head joints. When you lay brick that fast you are not paying attention to head joints. It is more of a feel thing. It’s more like you memorize it. Get off one
brick, one row - that is a 25 or 50 brick deduction every time. I knew right off some were out.”

The first year Cash never got comfortable. “If something was wrong I let it bother me too much. I did not leave it in the wall and go. I kept it with me. First
time I went out there I beat myself. I put 774 brick in the wall but too many brick were messed up. 2017 I did not do that. I just put em down put em down
put em down. If I was laying brick and I caught another brick while I was cutting mud off and I moved it, I fixed it and moved on, fixed it and moved on. I
did not let it frazzle me. I went in there with a totally different attitude. First year I did not have fun. This year I had fun. I had blast. I was looser. I have fun
when at home [laying brick] why should I not have fun there?”

Winning the Championship has added to Cash’s life in many ways. It helped him purchase a home, and has become a tool he uses to introduce and recruit
young adults to masonry. “People always have known me as a great worker. Now that I have won this competition, and I have a title behind me, the trophy
is something backing me now. I always went back to my high school masonry class to shoot the bull with the kids and look for myself in another kid. Now I
have some clout behind me. If I can change one person’s path and make it better, I think I have done something.”

Cash is part of a group of NC masonry leaders who have created a Workforce Development Program. Its’ purpose is to introduce and draw new workers
to the industry. The prototype of this program is to be at Mount Pleasant High School. Leaders will demonstrate not just laying brick, but the masonry
business, mortar, delivery, block, brick, sales, the whole gambit. The plan is to have a total of 6 workforce development classes, one a month offered to any
student that is interested. The program counts as a high school credit, becomes experience, and maybe leads to a job.

“There is nothing about construction out there except for the fact that we can’t find help. We can’t go out and say we can’t find help if we are not trying.
With the Workforce Development Program we are putting out an option. We want to teach kids there is more than laying brick to masonry. Out of the pro-
gram if we have 45 kids, if we can get 4 or 5 kids we have done something. That is a good number.” The goal is to create a template for the program and
take it to different schools and offer it to other masonry associations.

2017 SPEC MIX BRICKLAYER 500 Champ Matt Cash is headed back to Vegas. “I want to be the first back to back. My next goal - first back to back winner.”

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