A Company Formed on the Foundations of Integrity, Quality and Pride
Many stories begin with a family business idea—some find the gumption to act on these ideas, while others stray because they fear the unknown, The Casler Family exudes qualities of the former and has created a business without hesitation.
The year was 1975. Harold J. Casler, having followed in his father in-law Joseph O’Connor’s footsteps, Harold had already reached a twenty-year milestone as member of the local Bricklayers and Allied Craftworks Union based out of Auburn, New York. Being a master of the trade did not end with Harold. Two of his sons, Michael and Matthew
Casler, each with tenured experience under their belts, like their father, were members of the local Bricklayers and Allied Craftworks Union. With over 30 years of combined experience, these three men joined together to form Casler Masonry.
Over 40 years has gone by and Casler Masonry continues to operate like a well-oiled machine. What was once a four-man team has transformed into a family empire. Michael Casler became president in 1984, with a vision in mind and strong family values, Harold and Matthew continued to work at Casler Masonry, completing full careers and retiring from the family business. Casler Masonry employees 100 people at any given time, some family and some are strangers that become family. Casler Masonry has created a standard for the masonry culture and construction industry for Upstate New York. Being a company that has withstood the vexing times of the great recession, an ultimate low in employment statistics, and big government getting involved in laws and regulations—all proving to be obstacles for the construction industry— Casler Masonry continues to come out on top!
Upstate Masonry Institute had the pleasure to sit down with and interview the President of Casler Masonry, Michael Casler, and his sons, Brian and Dan Casler-- both Estimators/Project Managers and third generation Caslers involved in the family business. All questions answered by Michael Casler except the last.
What was the most significant move by Casler Masonry that assisted in the growth of the company?
I became President of Casler Masonry in 1984, at that point I made the decision to travel outside of the Western New York territory. We now cover the entire state of New York, parts of New England, and sections of Pennsylvania.
What has kept the Casler Masonry name strong throughout the years in the construction industry?
We are built on the foundations of integrity, quality, and pride in the work we perform. These three values have carried us through the best of times and the worst of times, they are what has helped us grown over the years.
What are some obstacles in the construction industry and how do you work around them?
In my opinion, there are two major setbacks in the construction industry:
1) An aging work force effects our industry day in and day out. Though our trade is timeless and the basics will never change, it is hard to fill the shoes of our retiring generation. There comes a time in everyone’s career when it’s time to hang up the trowel, but to find someone to replace them has proven to be difficult at times. We are lucky to be members of the Laborers and Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Unions to assist in filling these very valuable boots. We know when an employee coming out of the union hall works for us, they are educated and trained in their trade and construction safety. We are lucky enough when we hire a new employee that they usually stick around because we value our workforce and are forever encouraging continuing education and growth within the field.
2) Government regulation continues to get more stringent year after year— our most discouraging regulation is the New York State Scaffolding Law. It has caused serious hikes in insurance premiums, forcing some companies to pull out because it was no longer affordable. At Casler Masonry we go above and beyond in training our work force in safety protocol. By doing so, it assures protection on the work site because our employees know and respect our safety standard.
At what point did you realize starting your own masonry company had been the right decision?
After the first recession hit in the late 1980’s – early 90’s and we made it through still completing projects, I knew we had made the right decision.
What is your advice to an emerging professional in the construction industry?
Whether you choose a career working in the field or in the office you must have a willingness to work and take pride in what you have accomplished. It is a very special feeling to say you helped build that building. Advice my father shared with me that I feel still holds true to this day and to practices we participate in day in and day out at Casler Masonry is: “In the construction industry when it’s good, it’s good, when you make some money you better save it because you’re going to need it.”
I asked both of Michael’s sons Brian and Dan: What is one thing you have learned from your father that you apply to your work?
Brian: The ability to stay calm and keep a level head in stressful situations.
Dan: Remember where you came from. Have compassion and understanding, and always lead by example.