Sal Cambria ha inviato un aggiornamento 1 anno, 3 mesi faBuilding legend Sal Cambria is called “The Machine” in London’s construction industry
THE LONDON FREE PRESS Updated: August 25, 2014
His name is Salvatore Cambria, Sal for short.
Around London construction sites, they call him “The Machine.”
That’s just one of the nicknames for the local legend, also known as The Dancer and Dura-Sal.
By all accounts, he’s a bricklaying phenom.
At 60, Cambria says he’s slowed down from his prime, when he’d lay more than 3,000 bricks in a day.
But these days it’s not uncommon for him to put down 2,000 — still up to four times the industry average, and more than double what the regional bricklaying champ lays in a shift.
TOP BRICK GUY IN AWE OF LONDONER
“He’s the fastest bricklayer I know and his work is clean. Everybody knows him,” said Vasile Caniuca, owner of Millstone Homes.
And at $1 a brick, Caniuca added, “more young people should get into (masonry).
“Yes it’s hard work, but Sal makes more money than a doctor,” said Caniuca.
Another builder said Cambria is a “dying breed” in an industry struggling to attract young labourers.
One look at Cambria -he seems to put not just his body, but his heart and soul into the job -reaching for the brick, scooping the mortar with his oversized trowel, spreading it and turning to put down the brick, again and again -and it’s clear the work isn’t easy.
Try that about 2,000 times a day for 32 years.
But he’ll be the first to tell you how it pays off.
“You see this?” Cambria says, pointing to a half-f inished wall he’s building. “Every brick you see is $1. What I lay today, I don’t need to lay tomorrow, and what I make today, I want to make again tomorrow,” he adds, never breaking stride at a home in northwest London. “And, this work is good for my body. Ï don’t have to go to the gym,” he quips.
“It’s like he’s dancing. He’s got a rhythm and when he gets into it, it’s really something to see,” said Larry Trojek, foreman of Bridlewood Homes. “They call him the Machine.”
Born in Lipari, Sicily, Cambria started laying bricks when he fi-ished elementary school back home. He was good at it and he worked hard.
By age 25, he’d built his own house. But while he was putting down brick after brick, something else was in the air.
He married his wife, Carmela, an Italian Londoner, and the two settled in London to start a life together.
The year was 1981, a recession was on and 26-year-old Cambria started working for $7 an hour.
Six months later, with a heart full of ambition, he started up Cambria Masonry, charging 17 cents a brick. He still looks with fondness at his first London house, a townhouse in northeast London.
Now, the father of four has his imprint all over the city.
“The money is important, bur for me, I love it when the project is done and I can step back and say, ‘I created those columns, those arches,’” he said. “When I drive around and see the houses I’ve done, for me it’s a pleasure.”
An avid London Lightning fan, who’s also known among friends for his perfectly roasted chestnuts and perfectly manicured front lawn, Cambria still puts in 9.5 hour days. But his production is down to a maximum of 2,000 bricks a day, helped by a labourer who does all the set up.
That’s still double what the region’s reigning brick-laying champion says he puts down on his best day.
“I want to see that guy,” said Filipe Orfao of Cambridge, who’s won the Eastern Canadian competition, held at Waterloo’s Conestoga College, three years in a row. He also placed 3rd in last year’s International Fastest Brick Layer challenge in Las Vegas.
“The average for a good bricklayer is about 500 or 600 a day,” he said. “If they are building corners or an arch . . . sometimes it could be 250 or 350.”
In last year’s Vegas competition, Orfao put down 580 bricks in one hour. But his record in the Canadian event is 647, he said.
Orfao said he’d love to watch Cambria work.
He’s not alone. The Dancer often draws a crowd of impressed construction workers, said Jason Leitch of Domday Developments.
“He’s by far, the fastest bricklayer there is,” said Leitch. “He’s super clean, super reliable and I’ve used bricklayers that have groups of two, three, four -and he’s faster than all of them.”