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An Interview with Our Lead Mason

James Gleason is the Lead Mason for Paramount/Rite-Way Masonry. He has worked with the company for 26 years, and prior to that he worked for years with Rite-Way Masonry before it merged with Paramount Masonry to become the company it is today.

With the job being so physically demanding, and with James being in that trade for so many years, we were curious what drove him to continue in this line of work. He said he likes how physically demanding it is and he likes being able to work hard and earn a living. James does most of his work solo, although sometimes he will have helpers who will bring him supplies and assist with the more laborious parts of the job such as setting up scaffolding.

When we asked him what his favorite part of the job is, he said “laying brick.” He likes to be creative and laying brick is where he gets to do that. He is skilled in building chimneys and fireboxes, retaining walls and stonework walkways. Of his work he also said, “sometimes I feel like I take too long, but I like to be thorough and do a good job. I also make it a point to double check for fire safety even if it’s not on the bid.”

James feels like when he started in masonry, he learned from the wrong person. He was taught to cut corners and look past the tiny details. He said that over time he “picked it up” as he went and prefers to be meticulous and artful in his brick laying.

Today, not only is James a master mason, he is the only certified Thermocrete installer in the entire State of Oregon. Thermocrete is a durable ceramic liner for use in repairing and restoring chimneys and making chimneys more energy efficient. Thermocrete seals holes and cracks and strengthens the chimney. In order for James to get his certification, he travelled to New Hampshire where he attended a comprehensive Thermocrete training program. This was a three-day intensive training program with other industry professionals around the country. James completed this and received his official certification. You can find Paramount Masonry on the Approved Industries website here by typing in your Oregon zip code in the search.

When asked about what he does in his free time, he said his ideal work week is Monday through Friday, and then he will go fishing for trout at Henry Hagg Lake. He says the biggest fish he ever caught was about 27 inches.

Do you have a masonry question for James? Contact us here.