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Fred’s pal Joey

image L-R: Joey and Fred Guerrero of Masonry Custom Design

HOUSTON - Not only are Fred and Joey Guerrero father and son, they are business partners and friends as well. Joey says of his father, “He is my best friend and the master mason in the family.”

 

 

 

 

 

    Fred’s wife and Joey’s mother Marta runs the front office of Masonry Custom Design (MCD) and handles all the logistics one must handle for a business.
    Fred is the sole owner of MCD and Joey is the field manager.
    Fred got his start in the masonry trade via working for his father’s masonry business when he was 15 years old. When his dad retired over 40 years ago, Fred’s older brother took over dad’s business, while Fred started MCD. (Before Fred started MCD, he worked with his brother briefly, but, as he said, “it wasn’t a good fit.”)
    Going from strictly a mason to a masonry company owner had its challenges for Fred. “It was rough, in the beginning,” he said. “When you work as a mason, you don’t have to worry about paperwork, invoices or proposals.”
    When Fred first began, he had three guys working for him. At its peak, Fred had about 50 employees. When Fred was sidelined for a year and a half with throat cancer, that number dwindled down to its present 8 men.
    “My wife and my son took up the slack,” Fred said of his down time.
    Joey began his masonry journey as a kid as well. “All my life, when I was working age,” he recalled, “my  dad would have me be with him whenever he could, out in the field.” Joey said that it kept him busy and not just sitting around the house “watching cartoons.”
    When Joey got through school and had his own family, that’s when “I started getting serious” about a career in masonry, he said.
    “Everything I know, he taught me,” Joey said of Fred. In fact, Joey said that there are “quite a few masons in the Houston area who have worked for my dad and gone on and now are our competition.”
    Masonry Custom Design beat out the competition when it came to a couple of high-profile projects on which they bid, even if they didn’t know who the projects were for.
    But the Guerreros got the contracts that did work for (name-dropping time): President George H. W. Bush, Houston Rockets stars Hakeem Olajuwon and Tracy McGrady, and professional drag racer Rodger Brogdon. “It was an honor to do them,” Joey said.
    Even though Fred is the company’s elder statesman and oversees the big picture, you won’t find him hiding out in the office. “I like to be out in the field with the guys,” he said. “I get my hands dirty. I don’t like to be sitting around not doing anything. It keeps me in shape. I like to work.”
    MCD stays primarily in the Houston area, but that encompasses The Woodlands to the north and Galveston to the south. “On a given day, we put a couple of hundred miles on a vehicle,” Joey said, going between jobs. If the price is right, however, Joey said, “We’ll go just about anywhere.”
    Fred has seen a lot of changes in the masonry industry since he started as a youth. “There were no outdoor kitchens back in the day,” he said. No one had brick pizza ovens in their back yards, either. The size of the home he routinely works on is much larger than his father’s 4,000sf home, which was huge for him. Now, Fred will work on a house anywhere from 5-20,000sf.
    The plan for the future is for Joey to take over MCD when Fred finally steps down. “As long as we keep our guys happy and the customers happy,” he said, “we’re going to keep on trucking.”
    Joey has a son who might follow him. As of now, he’s leaning to working with animals in some capacity. However, if he ever gets undecided, Joey said he’ll bring him into the masonry fold as well, making him the fourth generation.
    Sounds like something a real pal would do for another pal.
    Masonry Custom Design is a masonry contractor in Houston. -dsz


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Dan Zulli dan@constructionnews.net