Daniel Zechmeister inducted into NCMA’s Hall of Fame

Dan Zechmeister, retired Executive Director of the Masonry Association of Michigan, inducted into the NCMA Hall of Fame.

Daniel Zechmeister, retired Executive Director of the Masonry Institute of Michigan, Southfield, Michigan, was presented with NCMA’s Hall of Fame award on August 5 at the association’s Midyear meetings held at The Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

NCMA’s Hall of Fame award is presented to the industry’s most valued participants whose careers are highlighted by continual accomplishments on the industry’s behalf, and who have demonstrated unquestioned dedication to NCMA’s highest values.

Dan Zechmeister is a natural promoter and educator. His induction into NCMA’s Hall of Fame is based on his skills and passion throughout a tremendously productive career promoting masonry as a superior building material. His 1978 civil engineering degree from Wayne State University provided him with a technical understanding of materials and construction systems that he would ultimately rely upon to craft his messaging. The city of Detroit has a rich history of masonry structures built to their full potential. Shortly after college, he took a job as a structural engineer with a firm founded by Albert Kahn, one of the city’s notable architectural pioneers. He recalls an early assignment to design an addition to a manufacturing plant using 12-inch concrete masonry units. Having no previous experience with masonry, he asked his chief structural engineer for help. His supervisor tossed him copies of the NCMA TEK binder and the BIA technical notes calling them bibles for concrete and brick masonry. In 1986, Dan joined the Masonry Institute of Michigan as a structural engineer. He quickly developed a working relationship with the engineering staff at NCMA. He also had the added benefit of a connection with NCMA’s then president John Heslip. “In the very beginning, I was awestruck by John Heslip and everything he accomplished at MIM.” By 1990, Dan himself would be promoted to executive director of MIM. “I thought I would never measure up to John.”

After that 34 years in the position at MIM, Dan can feel comfortable in his own legacy. Dan worked hard to develop relationships with architects, engineers, and Mason contractors. He was just as comfortable interacting with building officials and inspectors as he was with masonry suppliers, bricklayers, and block layers. And he didn’t just show up with an educational message. Dan actively participated in their professional organizations. The level of respect and appreciation he garnered is evidenced by recognition from those organizations. He has been recognized as a life member of the American Society of Civil Engineers. And in 2002 was presented with the award of merit, recognizing him for his committee work on masonry units and mortars and grouts. To dispel the impression Dan was simply a buttoned-up engineer, it’s appropriate to highlight the impressive range of creativity and zaniness he brought to his passionate promotion of masonry. He was the driving force in transforming MIM’s black and white newsletter into a full-color magazine and putting the masonry solutions in front of designers and contractors. Dan was regularly in the field, visiting job sites and solving problems. But he focused more on providing solutions to prevent problems and bridging the disconnect between masonry design and masonry installation. He especially enjoyed the grouting workshop that he created for masonry contractors at the request of design professionals.

He builds relationships with various agencies in Michigan associated with construction inspection and safety, such as an Alliance between MIM and the Michigan Occupation and Health Administration, which included an advisory committee on masonry wall bracing. While most of his efforts to gain market share were focused in Michigan, he also traveled throughout the country to support the efforts of his compatriots managing masonry promotion associations in other states.

Dan is certainly drawn to noble causes. His relentless energy and passion for service is rooted in his Christian faith. He and his wife are active members of their local church and are personally involved every week in the preparation and distribution to those in need throughout the Detroit area.

And he is certainly blessed with a wonderful family that has supported him throughout his career. He gives special credit to his wife Deb who he met at age 5. They have been married for 43 years and raised two daughters, Jenna and Michelle. Dan’s family and his peers might definitely consider Dan to be a trouble starter, but all of those might also say that he has been the kind of trouble starter that we need. It is appropriate that we celebrate all he has done for the masonry industry. No one will be surprised by this quote from him: “No other building system can provide enclosure, aesthetics, structure, sustainability, and resiliency. It’s America’s building block.”

Many of those who worked with Dan over his career provided congratulations to him, and this collection was provided to him with his award. Below are just a few.

“Congratulations on your NCMA Hall of Fame award. You’ve been a mentor to me. I learned valuable attributes from you from the way that you did your job. You always acted with integrity and you taught me the value of teamwork. Now you’re retiring, but Dan, I feel this one and I’m going to miss you.” – Todd Dailey, Dailey Engineering, Inc.

“Dan Zechmeister is a man with conviction, passion, loyalty, and compassion.” – Jim Gendron, Fendt Builder’s Supply, Inc.

NCMA congratulates Dan on his induction into the NCMA Hall of Fame.

For a PDF copy of this press release, click here.

Published September 1, 2021
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