In his younger years, Damian L. Lang had his sights set on becoming part of America’s construction sector. Taking a masonry program while in high school, Lang aimed to become a mason contractor after he graduated. Not only did he achieve that goal, but he went on to create a well-respected company bearing his name.
Based in Waterford, Ohio, the company has steadily grown its roster of people as well as its services. Established by Lang, founder and CEO, in 1984, the business changed its name in 2015 from the original Lang Masonry Contractors, Inc. to Lang Masonry & Restoration Contractors to emphasize its capabilities in first-class restoration work.
In April of 2022, Luke Keiderling became President of Lang Masonry Contractors, while James ‘Hoss’ Hoskinson became the President of Lang Masonry Group, which was created in April. Lang Masonry has ownership in three other companies, with Hoss helping direct the vison and mission of the leaders of each company. These are 3 Promise Labor Service, led by Operations Manager Alex Hogan; JVS Masonry in Denver, Colorado, under President Jerry Thoma; and Buckeye Construction & Restoration, headed by President Bob Brown. All are under Lang Masonry Group, and all are thriving, as the company actively seeks out future growth opportunities.
“In 2019, LMC did $16 million in revenue; in 2020, we did $33 in revenue, and doubled in size,” shares Luke, stating the Team plans to go from $33 million to $44 million in 2023. Another indicator of the Team’s collective strength is its growing staff. Three years ago, Luke was in charge of manpower. The business was deemed essential during the pandemic, “and we hired all the way through the pandemic, while other people were laying off,” he says.
Like many others, Hoss is an example of just how loyal staff are to Lang Masonry and its goals and vision. Starting his career with the company straight out of high school, he worked his way up from laborer through operator, foreman, and project manager to president and part owner.
The company prioritizes safety above all else. “We live and work by our motto ‘Safety-Quality-Production,’ not sacrificing one for the other, keeping Safety first, Quality second, and Production third,” says Hoss. “We reward our employees with quarterly bonuses if they don’t receive any Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fines throughout the year.”
Initiatives like these have made Lang Masonry a leader in safety, and the company refuses to cut corners when it comes to its workers and customers. Greg Adams is the Safety Director for all of the companies. Greg and the safety directors under his leadership make sure the company in maintaining its Experience Modifier Rate (EMR), a way the insurance industry calculates the price of workers’ compensation premiums. “Our safety rating is one of the lowest among the masonry industry at EMR .56,” says Hoss.
With a size range of projects from smaller works of about $50,000 all the way up to large, multi-million-dollar jobs, Lang Masonry’s average project is valued in the $2 million range. Focusing on elementary, middle, and high schools as well as colleges and universities, the company creates buildings meant to last for a long time, not structures that will be demolished in a few decades.
In just the past 18 months, the company has completed five projects for Ohio State University alone, and one reason for this success is access to workers. Lang Masonry has a staff of 125; with the availability to add more from the 170 employees that 3PLS currently has, the number skyrockets. This puts the company in the unique position of being able to get skilled workers on site quickly and efficiently. “At the same time, we are friends with everybody in the masonry industry—we don’t have any enemies,” Luke laughs. “So we subcontract out work to other mason contractors that have a need, a gap in their schedule, or maybe they’re a small contractor that doesn’t have the financial backing to bond a job or carry the line of credit that it takes. We will take on that burden and give them a portion of that school or that project so they can do it under the supervision and guidance of LMC.”
“One of the goals is to make sure we keep masonry alive. So whatever we can do to help keep masonry in the architect’s designs, that’s what we are willing to do,” says Hoss.
All of Lang Masonry’s work is commercial, and about 95 percent is negotiated with construction managers. “We try to stay away from projects where the low bid gets the job,” says Hoss. “It’s all about working together with the CM, coming in within their budget, and maximizing what they want with adding value.”
Just a few of the team’s recent big masonry projects they have done include the FC Cincinnati soccer stadium in Cincinnati and numerous schools in the Cincinnati, Dayton, Lancaster, and Columbus areas.
On the restoration side, Lang’s works include the Union Terminal in Cincinnati, the Hampton Inn in Columbus, and Levesque Tower and the OSU Thompson Library, also in Columbus. In the past few years, the company has seen growth in certain types of projects, namely schools and colleges, and an increase in materials including block, brick, and precast / limestone.
With a reputation for quality and professionalism, the company often wins repeat work from satisfied clients. Recognized in the industry for its outstanding work, Lang Masonry’s recent awards include the 2021 People’s Choice Award for the Cincinnati Union Terminal (CUT) Restoration, and for Fenwick Hall at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, also the same year. Most recently, Lang was presented with the Masonry and Excellence Award for the Cincinnati Soccer Stadium, given by the Tri State Masonry Institute (Kentucky, Indiana and Southern Ohio).
Growing the team
Skill is important at Lang Masonry, and so is hiring people who are the right fit and who align with the company’s core values. For Lang, the word “VALUES” itself carries a lot of meaning, standing for Value Honesty, Amazing Judgment, Leading by Taking Action, Unified Team, Exceeding Customer Expectations, and Swift Change. Producing good results, working well with others, focusing on adding value, and having people who genuinely enjoy what they do for a living are all vital elements to Lang’s ongoing success.
During the pandemic, Lang was considered essential and remained open. Adhering to all COVID-related protocols, the company kept moving while keeping all of its employees and job sites safe. “With our pipeline [of work], we were already set up to grow before the pandemic happened,” explains Hoss.
Of course, like most other companies of late, Lang has experienced some challenges finding young skilled masons to take over for the aging workforce. As a result, the company has introduced several recruitment initiatives, including apprenticeships, its Pathwork program, and free classes with the Buckeye Hills Career Center in Rio Grande, Ohio, which offers a variety of career training options and technical programs.
Pathwork is essentially Lang Masonry University, and offers classes on blueprints, safety, computer skills and more. “We train our employees well—we train to retain,” states Luke. “We train them to become skilled mason craftsmen.”
Launching in October, the plans for Pathwork were in the works for years. This included building the curriculum and investing in building a 7,000-square-foot office building in Columbus. Proving to be immediately popular, the first round saw 17 students sign up, with room only for 12. “We will go year-round,” says Luke. “Any time anyone wants to learn, we will give them that. The better they are, the better we are.”
Additional recruitment methods in the works include Masonry Day, which will see staff visit middle and high schools, bring along some brick and training mortar, and have kids lay some brick while sharing the benefits of a career in masonry. Additionally, the company has a referral program where individuals can earn up to $3,500 for bringing on a new employee.
Some positions recently posted at the Lang Masonry website (www.langmasonry.com/employment.php) include Masons, Laborers and Forklift Operators.
Refusing to do anything less than the best for its customers, Lang Masonry remains focused on its core values and vision—and on becoming the largest mason contractor in the United States.
“We must keep masonry alive in the industry,” says Hoss. “Masonry is a hard trade, and is declining every year.” As for the possibility of growing through acquisitions, the company says it is open to taking what it has as a foundation and partnering with other companies to make them more successful, while the owners of Lang Masonry help achieve its goal of being the best and biggest company of its kind in America.
“Masonry is the safest product to use in your buildings,” remarks Hoss. “You never hear of a block building burning up and collapsing. There’s a reason why people use masonry as their main structural unit for elevator shafts, stair towers, and safety access for buildings. People say masonry is dying, but there’s a lot of money and good successful careers in masonry, and a lot of people living well because of masonry. It’s a rewarding trade to be in. It is safe and well-paying… We’re going to pay you to learn, versus you having to pay to learn. You earn as you learn.”