The Clem Hellmann Leadership Award was presented on February 29th to Todd Nessler.
Todd is the son to Janis and Kenneth Nessler. As a second generation mason, Todd was exposed to the masonry industry from birth. He often accompanied his dad on weekends when he did his “rat jobs” in Illinois. When his parents started Sun Valley Masonry, Todd got a firsthand view of his dad’s pride in the business and his passion for masonry. Todd was inspired to follow in his dad’s footsteps and carry on the family legacy.
Todd began his formal masonry career as a mason tender. He enrolled in the bricklayer apprenticeship program and became a journeyman bricklayer before going on to attend Arizona State University, where he graduated with a degree in accounting.
Todd returned to Sun Valley Masonry and began working in accounting.
Since his return to Sun Valley in 1991, he has completely reorganized and modernized the company and assisted in the expansion efforts into Oklahoma and Louisiana.
Todd is a larger-than-life example of how the industry should be promoted. He was very instrumental in helping start the Arizona Mason Contractors Association Apprenticeship Training Program.
He continues to inspire all of Sun Valley Masonry’s staff to promote masonry and give back to the industry.
For Todd, paying membership dues and sponsoring events is simply not enough. Every year he dedicates countless hours of service on the Board of Directors for AMCA, AMG and now AMC. Over the course of time, Todd served as Secretary, Vice President and President. Todd now serves as Vice Chair of the AMC board. Todd was instrumental in the development of the AMC and continues to move us forward.
Todd has established an assortment of ad hoc task groups which were organized to focus on specific issues impacting the masonry industry, such as the use of wood and ICF in school construction. Todd has volunteered many hours meeting with the AZ School Facilities Board, AZ School Board as well as design firms to help promote the use of masonry in school construction.
Todd was awarded the Bart Del Duca Award in 2017.
Todd has been the go to person for AMG & AMCA Executive Directors over the years. His experience, insight and understanding of the masonry industry have been instrumental in helping Directors in the daily operations of the associations. No matter how busy he is, Todd has always found time to be a resource and sounding board for the association staff and to fellow industry members.
When asked what the biggest change is that he has seen in the last 10 years, Todd quickly replied “Technology!” He feels the introduction of technology has already changed the industry and that it will continue to change it for the future. Todd feels technology has made building easier. You’re building now from a tablet instead of blue prints. Changes in a project can be made quickly and across the board since they are made electronically instead of by paper. Now the project supervisor and foreman are working in real time. Yes, Sun Valley has made investments into training personnel to work with the technology but it has paid for itself. The only “downside” is the loss of personal contact. Previously, management, sales and estimating would have spent a lot of time in a GC’s plan room or met with the architect to pick up change orders. You casually ran into people and built relationships. Now relationships take a different type of effort and planning. They are no less important to a successful business though.
Technology impacted the business side of masonry first but there are major changes coming for the operational side also. Todd described the Exoskeleton, a suit which makes lifting easier. Masonry has always been a “young man’s game” because of the physical requirements lifting and placing brick or block. The Exoskeleton will change that. Smaller people can become masons. A person can work longer (for a day or a career) without harming themselves physically.
What would Todd say to a person coming into the masonry industry?
· Be honest and stay true to yourself.
· Never stop learning.
· Find a mentor and don’t be afraid to ask them questions.
Todd ended our conversation stating that there are a lot of very knowledgeable, experienced people in this industry and they want to share and teach. Just ask!!