Egyptian pyramids. Greek temples. Roman viaducts. The Great Wall of China. Gothic cathedrals. Medieval castles. Shadrock & Williams Masonry. What do they have in common? They’re all built to last.
But Shadrock & Williams has gone further, combining the newest technology in façades with ancient masonry craftsmanship, ready to take on big, difficult jobs far from its base in San Antonio, Texas.
“Masonry is one of the earliest crafts of mankind and it’s everlasting,” says Anton Shadrock, Chief Operations Officer at Shadrock & Williams Masonry Inc., a family business he owns with his wife, company President De’Aun Shadrock. “There are the pyramids and other ancient dwellings constructed thousands of years ago and they’re withstanding the test of time. Today it depends on what the owner wants; if he wants a building with a 25-year lifespan, there are cheaper materials. But if he wants a building that’s long lasting, then use masonry.”
Looking to expand beyond Texas, he says, “Our plan isn’t driven by jurisdictional area, it’s more driven by pursuing desirable projects for desirable clients and being ready and fluid to handle them wherever they’d want us to go.”
And what constitutes a desirable project? “Large and difficult,” he answers succinctly, to which his son Weston adds, “Definitely not run of the mill.”
The history of Shadrock & Williams
Anton and De’Aun Shadrock purchased the former Guy Williams Masonry company in 1994 from De’Aun’s father, Guy Williams, who’d founded it in 1968. He’d not long completed his bricklaying apprenticeship before opening his own business. The timing was spot on. 1968 was the year of HemisFair ’68, the official, six-month World Fair held in San Antonio, which resulted in an increase of construction activity.
The fair’s theme celebrated the cultures of immigrants who’d built the Americas and led to Williams’ first big project: a stonework renovation on the 1893 Hermann Schultze house, one of the few remaining German-built houses, described as a “diamond in the heart of the city.”
Fifty years later, the little stone house with its Victorian gable windows is still an integral part of the historic area of San Antonio and a testament to Williams’ attention to detail, something Anton says remains the “firm’s calling card” to this day. “I’d always been interested in construction and when I was given the opportunity by my father-in-law to learn the trade and the business, I took it and it’s worked out well for both us. He’s enjoying his retirement now, but he’s still a common personality in our office; he has an interest in what we’re doing and asks us what we’ve been up to.”
Meanwhile, sons Weston (Sr. Project Manager) and Kyle (Project Superintendent) grew up in the business. “I made a decision early on that I wanted to be part of the business and that was the same for my brother. We started out as soon as we could when we were fresh out of high school and we’d help tend the masons on the projects. I think a reason for our success is that all three of us, (Anton, Kyle and himself) have acted in nearly every role that a dynamic masonry contractor can have, from labor to tender, to apprenticeship programs and on into bricklayer position and one level up to field crew management (foreman) and then on to the superintendent role and then on from there.”
Shadrock & Williams today
So, when Guy Williams asks what the company’s been up to, the short answer is ‘a lot.’ With a team of 175 or more skilled mason tenders and bricklayers, the firm has successfully executed large and difficult projects in whatever type of masonry is specified by the architectural firms doing the original design. Whether it’s granite, natural stone veneer, CMU, dimensional stone cladding, brick veneer, clay tile, cast stone, or natural stone carving, the team at Shadrock & Williams is ready to take it on.
While it’s maintained Williams’ attention to detail and ethical business practices, the company also recognizes that today’s building façades are designed and installed differently than they were 50 years ago. As a result, it has kept pace with the constantly changing industry by studying, learning and practicing the installation of modern façade systems including terracotta, natural stone, FRP (fiber reinforced panels), and porcelain.
“Our newest listed service is waterproofing,” says Weston. “We’ve been doing some waterproofing detail work since our inception 50 years ago, on a smaller scale. But we’ve recognized we can do that work with quality and efficiency and we also recognize the value of consolidating installers and eliminating a separate sub-contractor to install the waterproofing for the air and water vapor barrier. We can install that material, the waterproofing and the flashing and then cover those with the permanent façade and offer packages that eliminate an entire separate sub-contractor, streamline the schedule and reduce construction costs.”
Projects which showcase the company’s craftsmanship include the magnificent downtown campus of the University of Texas at San Antonio which received the national 2000 International Excellence in Masonry Award.
Then there’s the Texas A&M San Antonio Campus, three separate buildings completed over a period of three years (2012-2015) which received no fewer than five awards from the San Antonio Masonry Contractors Association and the Texas Masonry Council. In addition, in 2014, the Central Academic Building received the national Masonry Contractors Association of America Team Award.
“That’s one of our favorite projects,” Weston says. “It’s in our hometown and this designer (Munoz & Company) does a really great job of specifying masonry products – and not just standard masonry products because there’s elaborate detail and intricate design work and we’re very fortunate in that we have the capabilities to handle such intricate projects and are able to build to such a high level of craftsmanship. Projects like this don’t come around very often, but when they do you want to be ready to build it to their requirements.”
There’s the FBI Headquarters in San Antonio completed in 2007 which earned the 2008 Masonry Golden Trowel Award, First Place from the San Antonio Masonry Contractors (Government / Institutional category). There’s also the Paul Elizondo Tower, the Resolute Health Medical Campus in New Braunfels, TX and the Seguin Public Library, which earned those same awards in 2011, 2014 and 2017 respectively. In addition, the Paul Elizondo Tower received a LEED Silver award.
In keeping with Guy Williams’ first project involving restoration, the company continues to do others, including the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts (built in 1926) for which it won restoration awards from both the San Antonio Masonry Contractors Association and the Texas Masonry Council in 2015.
Anton notes that Texas doesn’t have as many older buildings as some parts of the country, but the company has also restored some military barracks dating from the late 1800s and the Thomas Jefferson High School, which he believes to be the first $1M high school built right before the Depression in 1929.
A bright future
This is a company that never sleeps. In September 2018, work is scheduled to begin on a 12-floor Broadway Office Development in San Antonio, and ongoing is the construction of the Christus Spohn Health System Master Facility in Corpus Christi. Anton recalls how after that project was started in August 2017, “Hurricane Harvey hit 30 miles from here and that delayed our schedule somewhat. We had to go into emergency mode and shelter everything and get all our scaffolding down. The building received only minor damage and really held up well, so that was an early test.”
There’s also a Phase 2 restoration and modernization for the University of Texas Medical Branch Galveston John Sealy Hospital. Weston explains, “Our role in this project is to participate in the recladding of the original structure. This building is from the ‘60s or ‘70s and in recent years experienced many performance issues – water leaks and structural failures, and they are all due to improper design, lack of craftsmanship or material selection. They have demolished the existing brick veneer and we’re reinstalling new brick veneer with proper design, materials and craftsmanship.”
Coming up to completion is the Fort Bliss Hospital, built to replace the existing William Beaumont Medical Centre. Anton describes this “military hospital for warriors” as “one of the largest masonry projects in North America,” and says, “we’re taking a lot of pride in it.”
For readers not familiar with Fort Bliss, it is the largest installation in the U. S. Army Forces Command, covering 1,700 square miles in Texas and New Mexico, with headquarters in El Paso. It’s here where the seven-building medical campus is nearing completion, constructed with a combination of concrete masonry units, ground faced masonry units, dimensional natural stone, terracotta rainscreen, thin stone veneers and cast stone
Weston, who’s been managing the project, says “I think Fort Bliss will probably be a major chapter in our company’s growth and development. As my father said, it is a very large-scale project and projects of this magnitude are almost always broken in multiple contracts, where you’ll find multiple masons on site installing. However, through our history of working with this general contractor we were able to consolidate the masonry and cladding packages, so we could be just one installer and approach the project that way.”
The work “includes probably a dozen different systems that we’re contracted to install, so managing all those different materials, sequencing and the unique dynamics involved has been a great challenge, but we take pride in our ability to construct and we’ve assembled a great team, some of whom have been out there since May 2014.”
He adds, “We have developed a reputation for being able to handle difficult jobs of large magnitude, with difficult schedules or systems and materials to install and we’ve done that very well with a local footprint in the San Antonio region and in south Texas. Now our experience with the Fort Bliss replacement hospital, 500 miles from our home office and in a completely different market where we had to learn the local labor force and material providers, was a whole new ball game and we were able to do it successfully,” he shares.
“With that experience we’ve got the confidence to continue and we’ve done that in the other end of the state where we’ve picked up work in Houston and Galveston. So, our experience with Fort Bliss has allowed us to grow our footprint. We’ve covered Texas at this point and we want to continue to offer the same service of quality work, honesty and ethical business practices right across the nation,” he says.