Wayne, Gayle and Daniel Conover
Some families talk politics at the dinner table, while others discuss current events. For Wayne Conover, the conversation was always decidedly bricklaying and stone masonry. "I am a fifth generation bricklayer," explains Wayne, who grew up in Edison. "Bricklayers in our family go back as far as we can actually remember. Ours was a house of the craft."
Wayne wasn't about to break tradition. He became a bricklayer apprentice in Perth Amboy right out of high school in 1971, moved up to journeyman, then foreman, superintendent and on up to vice president. In 1992 he bought his family's business, Edison-based Conover and Brems, from his father and has been running the company ever since. Conover and Brems is a general contracting construction firm specializing in projects for the pharmaceutical and food industries.
Wayne's day-to-day agenda has changed drastically since he became a business owner. "We bid on jobs and meet new clients," he explains. "If you enjoy the trades as I did, it's hard to do this job. You accomplish something by bidding the job and earning it, but as a tradesperson you enjoy building and stepping back to look at what you built. That's a totally different feeling of satisfaction than when you are awarded a job."
It's also a feeling Wayne never thought his son, Daniel, would experience. Dan, 26, graduated a few years ago from Ithaca College with a degree in communications. After graduation, he called his dad with an unexpected question. "He said, ‘Dad, how do I go about getting into the carpenter's union?' I was amazed," recalls Wayne. "I never thought he was interested in going into a trade-related career, but I guess it's in his blood." Conover and Brems is now certain to stay a family affair. Wayne's wife, Gayle, is controller, and Daniel is in his fourth and final year as a carpenter's apprentice. Wayne can expect another generation of trade talk around the dinner table.