By Carolyn Lee
The Imperial Republican
Job prospects are usually fairly good in the bricklaying industry, especially for workers with restoration skills. That’s according to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development on the Internet.
Jason Kirkpatrick of Kirkpatrick Masonry of Grant agrees. As a matter of fact, he said it’s hard to find people to work for him.
Kirkpatrick and employee Ben Jones just finished laying cement blocks and the brick finish to the Allo Communications buiding and new addition on Broadway Street in Imperial.
Kirkpatrick said his company was started by his grandfather, Vance, about 50 years ago. It was then run by his father, Kelly. Kirkpatrick apprenticed for three years under his father.
Most entrants learn informally on the job, but apprenticeship programs provide the most thorough training.
Jones is learning on the job. Kirkpatrick hires more employees during the summer months.
The company obtains its bricks from factories in Omaha, Lincoln, Beatrice, Denver and from Kansas. Kirkpatrick Masonry lays brick, block and stonework.
Kirkpatrick likes the idea that he can drive by a building 10 years down the road and the brick is still there. It’s permanent.
He advises people who don’t like to paint to try brick.
There are other bricklayers in Southwest Nebraska, Kirkpatrick said, but he keeps plenty busy. He said he’d like to find someone to be his apprentice, as he’d like to teach someone his craft. It’s hard work, though, and he fights the elements.
According to Bricklayer Apprenticeship, “The outdoor work requires prolonged standing, kneeling, climbing, stopping, squatting, bending and lifting heavy materials weighing 60-65 pounds.”
It continues “The physical activity is a very serious consideration since this is a daily requirement until retirement. Bricklayers must be able to tolerate loud noise, work in confined spaces, at heights, in all weather and high exposed areas, tolerate repetitive reaching, and handling motion.”
However, Kirkpatrick enjoys his work and likes carrying on the family tradition.