- Written by: Erica Berry
- Produced by: Lindsay Jeffries
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
Evans-Mason Inc. is a family-owned and operated commercial, residential and institutional masonry contractor that has been operating from its headquarters in Springfield, Illinois, for almost 60 years.
Since the company was established by Phil Evans and Wymond Mason in 1956, it has expanded its area of operations and scope of practice to include new construction, masonry renovation and concrete flatwork and foundations. The skilled team at Evans-Mason also works with a variety of mediums, including stone, concrete and terra cotta.
“Masonry is a craft that throughout the ages still holds value and stands the test of time,” says Lester Mason, president of Evans-Mason and fourth generation mason. “It requires a true craftsman and we are proud to have the best in the industry on our team.”
In order to satisfy its business needs, the company collaborates with clients in residential, commercial, public works and institutional sectors, both as a subcontractor and directly with the building owners. Like most masonry and construction companies, Evans-Mason’s backlog and employee numbers fluctuate with the seasons. During its busy summer months, the company averages 100 skilled tradesmen, allowing Evans-Mason to keep a majority of its work in-house.
Keeping history alive
With its main office in Springfield, Illinois, Evans-Mason has completed restoration and new construction masonry throughout the state, as well as several restoration projects in Indiana, Iowa and Missouri.
As a trusted name in the masonry industry, Evans-Mason has been called upon to work on many high-profile, historic buildings throughout Illinois, including a four-phase restoration of the new state Capitol building exterior.
The multi-generational effort to restore the state’s Capitol began in the mid-1990s and was completed in 2004. To complete the restoration, Evans-Mason removed and replaced stone from the building’s foundation to the top of its dome. While a tower crane was used to remove shingles and replace water tables, the Capitol dome required special attention.
Because of the dome’s elevation, Evans-Mason was not able to use conventional large saws capable of cutting to the depths needed, so instead the team of skilled masons used an old family stone-cutting technique called pins and feathers.
“The pins and feathers technique is antiquated by today’s standards,” Lester explains. “The process was challenging, but it’s always a great feeling to complete something so specialized; it really showcases our skills and how diverse we are.”
The company also completed restoration work on the Old State Capitol Building, which was built in the mid-1800s and holds many historic associations with Abraham Lincoln.
At Union Station, another historic Illinois site, Evans-Mason’s was tasked with rebuilding the clock tower using specialty face brick and terra cotta over the preexisting terra cotta roof. The project, which required the company to engineer custom scaffolding in order to protect the original roof, won the company a prestigious award and was featured in ENR magazine.
Although the company has completed many successful projects in Illinois over the years, a downed market has forced the company to expand its geographical footprint outside of its home state, and Evans-Mason isn’t the only company making the shift.
“Several national brands for our material suppliers and equipment rentals have reported Illinois is lagging in sales whereas Iowa, Missouri and Indiana are on the upswing,” says Lester. “We follow the market; it’s the name of the game.”
While some pain points of the business are unavoidable, such as complying with laws and regulations and record-keeping for submittals, Evans-Mason perseveres and keeps its team up-to-date with industry education standards and pro-active with safety measures by including itself in professional groups, such as Masonry Contractors Association of Greater Chicago (MCAA).
The company finds MCAA’s numerous resources, such as political representation, educational opportunities and information updates, as well as the interchange of ideas between industry leaders, invaluable to its business.
“People don’t give enough credit to what this organization entails,” says Lester. “It’s very helpful to be able to call and ask a question of any of the members. Although we are competition, we are all here for the greater good of our craft, so we get together as contractors and review challenges we’ve faced, from finding special building materials to working with business contracts with general contractors. You can garner a lot from those folks.”
MCAA has been involved in legislature decisions regarding the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), silica exposure and scaffolding ergonomics, which have achieved gains for the masonry industry.
“I have been managing this company since 1991 and there have been substantial changes and developments, but it also has become a more competitive marketplace,” explains Lester. “MCAA gives our industry the political muscle we need to contribute to the changes we are facing.”
While Evans-Mason has potential to grow beyond its current scope and is open to entering new markets, the company is dedicated to employing only the best quality craftsmen available. “Having a high number of workers from one concentrated area usually results in lower skill sets and less experienced laborers,” says Lester. “By expanding our geographical reach, we can tap into new employment pools and guarantee our clients have the best of the best working on their buildings.”
With the possibility of fifth generation of family leadership on the horizon, Evans-Mason Inc. is seizing every opportunity it can to guarantee its success throughout the Midwest.
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