Building a Master Masonry Legacy
How one celebrated mason is using his success to inspire a new generation of craftsmen.
I knew I had to do something if I wanted to keep the industry alive
Campbell has repeatedly squared off against the best masons in the world at the SPEC MIX BRICKLAYER 500® World Championship in Las Vegas, earning the title “World’s Best Bricklayer,” three times. His success has made him the winningest mason in the history of the twenty-year event. Along with his friend, colleague and mason tender, Tony Shelton, Campbell has won three Ford F-250 4×4 Trucks and well over $25,000 in additional cash and prizes.
Becoming a three-time world champion was a goal Campbell was determined to achieve. And accomplishing such a feat is something for which he is uniquely wired. Growing up with seven siblings, he watched his father, a brick mason, work his hardest every day to provide for his family. Inevitably the art of masonry would be passed down to Campbell, who would earn a dollar for every brick he would lay under his father’s guidance. It didn’t take him long to do the math, and his future was promising.
A path of gratitude and hard work has placed Campbell in rarified air. Aside from the international recognition which accompanies his success in the SPEC MIX BRICKLAYER 500, he’s also the leader of a company, Creative Masonry, which employees 70 people. Many of whom are headed down a strong career path because of his dedication to their success.
Giving back to the masonry community has always been a priority for Campbell, but now it’s a mission. After volunteering his time as an instructor through another accreditation program, he wasn’t getting the results he desired. So in mid 2020 he took matters into his own hands and created the “Master of Masonry” training program. The class is held once a week, and is funded and hosted at Creative Masonry, targeting aspiring bricklayers in Northeast Tennessee. And with the help of companies like General Shale, who have donated brick to his cause, he’s beginning to pick up some momentum.
His class offers hands-on experience for a dozen students of all skill levels. They work on real world projects like mailboxes and fire pits, which they then sell to offset the cost of the program. Campbell believes in the importance of the dedicated educational environment, saying, “I can teach these students more in two hours in a classroom setting than I can in four months on the jobsite. We can focus on the fundamentals, like how to hold a trowel and pick up the mud.”
The program is already starting to pay dividends, with three students who will be ready to work on the wall by summer. “It really is great to see the progress, and to know that these young adults are learning a skill they can fall back on for the rest of their lives. Plus I know if they stick around Northeast Tennessee, I’ll have quality help to keep my business thriving,” said Campbell.
But he doesn’t do this all on his own. His staff all know the importance of his mission. Every week a new foreman joins his class to offer a different perspective and to help him give each student the attention they require.
“I’ve had some first year students that have already put out some pretty impressive projects. And it’s not just the guys, we have ladies in the group who are starting to excel as well. And if laying bricks isn’t their thing, we show them how to apply thin veneer systems, too. If it involves masonry, we teach it, we go over every tool.” Campbell explained.
Fred Campbell will be back in Las Vegas this June at the 2021 SPEC MIX BRICKLAYER 500 World Championship defending his title. But before then he will be inside the classroom, teaching the next generation of craftsmen how to succeed, just the way he learned from his father.
If you would like to learn more about the masonry program, or are in the Northeast Tennessee region and would like to join the program, you can get in touch with Fred Campbell at Creative.Masonry@aol.com