TOUGH AS NAILS behind the scenes

A new CBS show highlighted the art of masonry in a “TOUGH AS NAILS” way where over 4 million Americans tuned in to watch. The show went in search around America to find the toughest individuals to take part in various battles of strength, skills, endurance, and mental toughness that mimicked different job sites found across the country. In the first episode which aired on July 8th, you get a peek at the lengthy process behind finding the 12 hardworking contestants competing to be “TOUGH AS NAILS”. 

These eager participants are constantly striving for the best by always raising the bar for themselves. Through this show they quickly find out that masonry is an industry that requires more than physical strength, but also taking into consideration precision workmanship and  attention to detail.. The contestants will be working individually and as teams for the chance to win $200,000 and a Ford Super Duty truck.

The first episode featured the twelve contestants, inexperienced in the world of masonry, carting wheelbarrows full of SPEC MIX® Type S 80-pound bags through an obstacle course of dirt and mud. Keeping the wheelbarrows straight on flimsy, zigzagged, and unbalanced boards while rushing to be the first to get all 24 bags across. After a couple falls in the mud, a collision, and a few people realizing they should have worked smarter not harder, there was a final winner. Danny Moody won the wheelbarrow race, which allowed him to not have to partake in the next segment and be able to pick his own teammates for future competitions.

What contestants will soon discover is that masonry is not only building walls but building works of art. Through the use of the SPEC MIX® Portland Lime and Sand Mortar, these works of art will have a superior bond, water retention, and board life.

This leads them to their next segment of the challenge: building the best wall with the most brick. Sounds all too familiar to our SPEC MIX Bricklayer 500®  fans. It only gets more familiar from there as this test of endurance, strength, and mental toughness was overseen by head judge, Matt Cash, our 2017 World’s Best Bricklayer Champion!


Before the challenge could begin, Matt Cash and a cadre of men in black walked out, the surety of their craftsmanship radiating out with every step. These men in black are our very own SPEC MIX Mudslingers who mix the mortar for our SPEC MIX Bricklayer 500 and are the knowledgeable sales representatives on the SPEC MIX team. Cash demonstrates how to lay brick to the eager contestants, telling them it was a lot like serving a piece of pie while making it all look too easy. He put emphasis on a key technique for the spacing needed between bricks by stating, “everything I do is a quarter inch.”

As the contestants started on their own wall, they quickly realized that this would not be an easy challenge. A few missed the importance of that quarter inch, making it difficult for the last brick to fit. There is nothing else you can do in that moment other than make the tough decision to take down a brick from your wall. They learned that it’s not about how high you can make the wall, but how well you build the wall along the way. Just like in the SPEC MIX Bricklayer 500, at the end of it all there was a winner and there was a perfect wall.

It is amazing to see what these contestants can do when they really put their all into it. We at SPEC MIX highly recommend that you check out these 12 tough contestants and see the work that was put into the show. For a bit of a backstage taste, we reached out to Matt Cash to get a few words on his experience:

“It was a real privilege to be included in the planning and filming of the Tough As Nails program. Anytime that I have the opportunity to take part in an event that promotes the masonry industry—I’m all in! Hopefully, this show will inspire the younger generation to take up a career in masonry—it’s definitely provided a great life for me.”

After spending that time under the lights, setting the stage, and slinging mud, a couple of our expert Mudslingers were able to give us a bit of an account of what it was like to be on the show. They shared a few images, as seen below, from behind the scenes. We were even fortunate enough to have Matt Cash weigh in more on his experience as head judge.

Q&A with Matt Cash and the Mudslingers

Matt Cash, Wold’s Best Bricklayer 2017, Mint Hill, NC:
Q: What was your experience as head judge on TOUGH AS NAILS like?
A: My experience as head judge was fun, and I am honored to be a part of the show. I have watched many of the reality TV shows and always wondered why no one ever thought of masonry as a good option for TV. We do some cool stuff in masonry; it is cool. It is art.

Q: What do you hope this episode will do for the masonry industry? 
A: SPEC MIX Bricklayer 500® already puts eyes on our industry with its limited reach. This show just opened up Masonry to the world on a broader spectrum. Even the negative comments from some individuals should be fuel to the masonry industry.

Q: Can you explain what that mental toughness is like for you?
A: Mental toughness is gained through experience with work and life. I have used all the negatives in my life to gain the mental toughness. I take it out on the brick wall. It is a mindset, you may not always achieve short- or long-term goals the way you expected, which is where I gained some of my mental toughness.

As for our SPEC MIX Mudslingers, we were able to connect with Dan Neuens and Alex Borishkevich who were both on the stage working hard behind the contestants to help them win. Dan Neuens was able to take the wheelbarrow course for a test run while Alex Borishkevich had a hand in helping his contestant win. Read more on what they have to say about their time on the show below.

Dan Neuens, SPEC MIX Mudslinger from Green Bay, WI:
Q: What was it like to be on the show, and on the set?

A: Being on the set and being a part of the show, out there, was cool. I was lucky enough to be there for set up. The director of the competition asked our (Mudslingers) opinion. For the wheelbarrows, they asked us about what we thought about the course layout, and how many bags to put in the barrels. I got to run the course! I thought it was cool that they asked us about our thoughts.

Q: What do you think this could mean for the world of masonry?
A: I think it will highlight masonry, make it very visible specially with the ratings. They based the entire episode off of SPEC MIX and laying of brick. Showing the cool things of it and how difficult it is to do, but how impressed they were with Matt Cash. I thought it was neat! My phone was blowing up when the show was erring with customers. It is pretty cool!

Q: What did you feel was the highlight of the entire experience?
A: The whole thing was the highlight! Being a part of it from the setup until they shut the lights off. Then watching the premiere episode and knowing what went into it, how they pieced it together, and how the finished product came out, that was the neatest part of it all.

Q: If you were to have some time to speak about the industry on the show, what would you have liked to say?
A: Masonry is a different trade. A passionate trade. It needs more people, but those who are in it are diehards and proud of it! It is a trade that needs more young people in it. There is a lot of really cool stuff that can be done in masonry. There are a lot of guys and gals that are in it and really proud of their work that can last forever.

Alex Borishkevich, SPEC MIX Mudslinger from Bellevue, Washington:
Q: What was it like to be working with the contestants?
A: Helping the other contestants compete was exciting!

Q: What do you think this could mean for the world of masonry?
A: I think it was a significant promotion for the trade. Especially since it is showing people that have never worked in masonry, before building an entire wall on their own.

Q: What did you feel was the highlight of the entire experience?
A: Watching my contestant on the show win the wall building challenge.

Q: If you were to have some time to speak about the industry on the show, what would you have liked to say?
A: I would love to let young people know that it’s a great industry to get involved in and that you can make a remarkable career out of it.

Q:How did it feel to be a part of something like this?
A: It was an interesting and unique experience. It was fun to see how a show like this is produced behind the scenes.

TOUGH AS NAILS behind the scenes
TOUGH AS NAILS behind the scenes
TOUGH AS NAILS behind the scenes
TOUGH AS NAILS behind the scenes
TOUGH AS NAILS behind the scenes
TOUGH AS NAILS behind the scenes

We at SPEC MIX couldn’t be more excited about this opportunity to highlight the ever-expanding and rewarding industry that is masonry with a wider audience. None of this would have been possible without the hard work of some talented people. We would like to extend a special thank you to Robert Collins, the BAC Apprenticeship Director in California, and his group who helped build the wall foundations. Robert Collins weighed in on their involvement in the show:

“This turned out to be a great experience for our apprentices’. This provided us with the opportunity for the real world on-the-job training that we can not simulate in the training center, with the added aspect of knowing we would be building something for a TV show and having our work be seen by potentially millions of people. We had one day to complete all the stations. The challenge was to provide the best quality and be as efficient as possible to meet the task. This quality and efficiency was the lesson of the day for the apprentices. The apprentices held the thought back in their minds all day as they worked hard to complete the challenge that not only their credibility was on the line, but the credibility of the masonry industry.

At the end of the day, the Bricklayers & Allied Cratfworker Local 4 apprentices not only completed the challenge, but they also conquered it. We are very proud of each and everyone one of those apprentices that were there that day along with instructors and local 4 journey workers that were there to help teach and support the future of the masonry industry.”

Ultimately, we would like to thank CBS for this opportunity to have Matt Cash, our SPEC MIX Mudslingers on the show, and for making a whole course using our SPEC MIX Type S 80-pound bags. With an audience at that netted 4.07 million viewers, we can’t think of a better way to spread the message about masonry. Be sure to check out the episode to learn more about the below winners from this challenge!

Danny Moody
Job: Drywaller
Age: 33
Hometown: Spokane, Washington


The wheelbarrow challenge was won by Danny Moody, a drywaller from Spokane, Washington. Winning this portion allowed him to be able to pick his teammates for the rest of the show.

Linda Goodridge
Job: Deputy Sheriff
Age: 29
Hometown: Marion, New York

The perfect wall was built by the toughest Deputy Sheriff who really heard that 1/4 inch statement, Linda Goodridge. You can find a video interview we did with her here.

Check out some behind the scenes imagery taken by our SPEC MIX Mudslingers!


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