Category Archives: About the team

From Oxford to Auckland City: Meet Adam

One great thing about having a diverse team of block layers is the different skills they bring to each site. That’s why we like having Adam on board, whose experience laying blocks and bricks in the UK brings a fresh perspective to our projects. 

Originally hailing from Oxford, about an hour and a half out of London, Adam picked up brick and block laying as a young lad and couldn’t put it down.

“At school, I tried a bit of brick laying. I was about 15, 16 at the time and there was a one-day-a-week sort of course at my secondary school.” 

He immediately knew he’d found the right fit. “I just liked it,” he says. “I was never one for sitting at a desk. I’m a block layer, and I’m really happy to do that.”

Adam went straight into an apprenticeship and has been honing his skills since then, working across England. After meeting his partner in Melbourne, they returned back to her home country of Ireland where Adam continued to practice block laying. They were both clearly bitten by the travel bug, and went travelling across Asia before arriving in New Zealand in early 2017. Seeing New Zealand as a great place to call home, he started looking for a job and reached out to Phil McKay at Quality Masonry. According to Adam, “That was that!”

Adam fit right in. With half a lifetime of block laying experience, Adam’s expertise in the UK was a great foundation for block laying here, but there was still a lot to learn. 

“There are some big differences between the UK and NZ. There, it’s more traditional and more cosmetic, and a lot more hollow work. Here it’s more structural; there’s more concrete and reinforcement here. There’s also little things like how every country trowels differently. I’ve liked learning the different processes.”

Adam enjoys being part of our team, and values the support he receives from the rest of the team and especially from Phil.

“I like working with Phil and him being around. A lot of bosses don’t like getting stuck in, but Phil’s hardworking. There’s not many bosses out there like him that like being a team player.”

With Phil and the rest of the Quality Masonry team backing him, Adam’s been able to showcase his skills and share his knowledge, laying blocks across Auckland to our usual high standard.

“I like being outdoors, and getting to see different parts of Auckland every day. Last week we were on two jobs in Ponsonby, and working a huge project in South Auckland that’s over 10,000 blocks.”

We’re chuffed Adam’s part of our team. He’s really found himself at home here, taking his campervan around on weekends and seeing what New Zealand has to offer. He’s often out on hikes, at music gigs or enjoying some local craft beers.

“We’re spoiled for choice here,” he laughs.

That variety – both on and off-site – make a big difference. Since no two days are quite the same, or in the same part of the city, Adam’s getting to know Auckland one job (and one beer) at a time.

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    Getting it right the first time: Meet our foreman, Raff

    When it comes to a strong block-laying team, having great foremen on board makes all the difference.  That’s why we’re proud to have Raff as part of our team, working hard to help us deliver quality results.

    Raff brings with him a lifetime of experience. “My older brother was a brick layer,” he says. “When I was young, I jumped in with him, for fun. I was interested in what he was doing and how he was doing it.”

    It was the start of something great. Raff was bitten by the block laying bug, and has been in the construction industry ever since.

    In 2017, Raff was looking to start his block laying apprenticeship and found his home with Phil McKay at Quality Masonry.

    “I wanted to find the right company and the right people to work with,” says Raff. “Phil’s performance, his quality is the best. He’s a good leader. Everything he does, it’s the right thing. As soon as I joined Phil at Quality Masonry, I knew I was in the right place.”

    We reckon Raff is in the right place too. He’s a real asset to our team, since quality is at the foundation of his work. He’s always looking at the project as a whole, and looking forward to make sure his work lasts a lifetime. “Whenever I’m on site, I’m thinking – if this wall is going up, it’s going to be here for ages. The water can’t get through; the steel can’t rust. We have to do it the right way, to a high standard.”

    “It’s about building something that lasts a hundred years – or more,” he says.

    Getting it right the first time is what drives Raff, and his growing skills as an apprentice and as a foreman. And if he’s ever in doubt, he turns to Phil’s expertise. “All the time, I’m thinking about the work – is it right, or is it wrong? I’ll turn to Phil, and he’ll take the time to explain the reasons why things are done the way they are. Phil’s good like that. He’ll take your hand and lift you up.”

    It’s this kind of leadership that inspires Raff, who steps up to the plate if Phil’s ever off site and makes sure the team are working hard to ensure Quality Masonry keeps its reputation as the best block layers in the industry.

     Raff’s keen to lead by example and show the younger apprentices the proper way and the safest way to work, to make sure that each job is hassle-free. “That way, when the end of the day comes, we go home safe and happy,” he says. “We laugh, we all enjoy ourselves. It’s hard work, but we enjoy it.”

    And when’s he’s not enjoying working outdoors and the team, Raff’s out exploring Auckland with his young family.

    “We have a son, so our weekends are out at the mall or the park. He loves playing soccer. He’s three and a half years old, so when he’s not in daycare he’s practically a full-time job!”

    Meet Shane: Our Master Foreman

    At Quality Masonry, we pride ourselves on having some pretty great guys on the team. One of those is Shane, one of our main foreman. Working tirelessly on the front lines of Quality Masonry, he’s one of the core reasons we always deliver our projects to the highest quality, on time.

    He’s been with us for 10 years, starting off as an apprentice and earning all his qualifications in block laying along the way.

    Since then, he’s gone on to help build our reputation as the best block layers out there. “It’s great to be with the same company that saw me through getting qualified,” shares Shane about why he’s stuck around so long.

    Shane appreciates feeling productive at work. There’s nothing like the satisfaction of finishing a construction job, seeing that it’s complete and thinking, “Ah yes I did that!”

    He considers every job an achievement when he’s finished and is proud to work for Quality Masonry.

    In his spare time, you can catch him chilling out in the garden, working around the house, and doing a bit of landscaping when he can.

    Keen for a new challenge? Join the Quality Masonry team

    Do you know any young or strong, able people looking for a great opportunity? We’re on the hunt for new labourers to join the Quality Masonry team – a worthwhile career opportunity for anyone who isn’t afraid of hard work. There aren’t all that many block-laying apprentices in Auckland but there is plenty of work out there.

    It’s a physical job but it’s also really rewarding – and the work keeps coming! If anyone you know could suit the block laying profession, please let us know.

    Introducing Phil and the Quality Masonry block laying team

    Master block layer Phil McKay from Quality Masonry and family

    Welcome to our first Quality Masonry blog – over the coming months, we’ll introduce you to our team, highlight common issues with block laying and how to avoid them, and look at key aspects of the industry to ensure you get real value from your block layers.

    First up, let me introduce myself – I’m Phil McKay, and I’ve been in the block laying game for decades. After starting out as a youngster doing landscaping, I got sick of digging pretty quickly and branched out into block laying. Not long after, I started Quality Masonry.

    These days, I head up a team of six guys who are passionate about doing the job right. If you’ve got a medium to large commercial project, we’re the guys who will make sure your block laying is done correctly from the start, and always on time.

    From enquiry to quoting, you can expect a quick response and because we’re more organised than your average block layers, we usually get our block laying finished with time to spare.

    The quality of the job comes from treating our staff right, giving them full training, and working alongside them to make sure they’re always doing the best job possible. That’s why so much of our work is built upon referrals from past and present clients.

    Outside of work, you’ll usually find me being a taxi driver to my kids (that’s them above), but when I can get away for a bit I’m generally watching a rugby game or off fishing.

    If you’re keen to get a quality block laying project underway, enquire here or give us a call on 024 844 331. We’ll make your job easier by getting our job done right the first time.