FON DU LAC (NBC 26) — The annual Spec Mix Bricklayer 500 competition came to Fond du Lac Wednesday, kicking off its 20th season. The competition is designed to test the speed, skill, and stamina of each mason by challenging them to build a 26-foot-long brick wall, with as few errors as possible, in one hour.
The competition is one of 22 regional qualifiers across North America for the Spec Mix Bricklayer 500 World Championship. The winning mason earns a roster spot at the world championship which takes place in Las Vegas during the World of Concrete Expo.
The rules of the competition are simple. Working alongside their mason tender, the mason that can lay the most bricks with as few mistakes as possible wins.
"The masons are competing to lay as much as they can," said Dan Neuens, who works in sales with Spec Mix. "They'll lay somewhere between 500 and 650 bricks in an hour which is more than they'll normally lay in an 8-hour shift."
Micheal Schlund was this year's bricklaying winner. He competed in the regional qualifier for the sixth time this year.
This was Schlund's second win. Back in 2019, Schlund won the competition and went on to compete at the world championship.
"You're going up against the best bricklayers in the world," Schlund said. "It's a humbling experience to see what those guys can do and try to keep up and compete with them. It's pretty cool."
The competition is also an opportunity for students to get hands-on experience with masonry. This year more than 100 students from six local schools attended the event as part of Masonry Education Day.
The competition also has a separate Jr. Spec Mix Bricklayer 500 competition for high school students and apprentices in the trades field in which participants have 20 minutes to lay as many bricks as they can.
As a mason who's worked in the field for over 20 years, Schlund hopes to encourage students to pursue masonry as a career.
"You're always doing something different," Schlund said. "Every other week you're at a different job. You're either doing block on the job, brick on the job, or stone. So there's a lot of variety in what you can do."
"It's hard work but it's a labor of love kind of job," Neunes said. "It's a lot of pride for people in the industry. There's a lot of cool things they can do with mortar, brick, stone, and block."