This past November, I had the enjoyable opportunity to visit Raleigh, N.C., for the first ever Concrete Countertop Conference, hosted by Lane Mangum and Jeff Girard of the Raleigh-based Concrete Countertop Institute. Also attending this inaugural event were nearly 300 concrete countertop fabricators and related product manufacturers from across the country.
This conference marked an important first step in establishing a recognizable body of professionals in the decorative concrete industry whose association and collaboration are helping to formulate and articulate quality standards for countertop professionals and the building industry they now serve.
The conference included many informative seminars by recognized industry experts such as Buddy Rhodes, Tom Ralston, Bobby Harris, Jeff Girard, Craig Smith of Dex Studios, and Steve Rosenblatt of Sonoma Cast Stone. Special guest speakers included Max Isley of the National Kitchen and Bath Association, business speaker Rocky Geans, and keynote speaker Jim Peterson of The Concrete Network. The breaks between these information-packed seminars offered a valuable networking opportunity for everyone who came to this event.
Of particular value to the conference was a strong show of support from many notable manufacturers, including Buddy Rhodes, Interstar, EnCounter, Bon Tool, Stegmeier, Illumistone, Fritz-Pak, TechFab, B & J Colorants, Klein & Co., and Flex-C-Ment. Many of these exhibitors offered product demonstrations, which were an ongoing attraction.
Unlike traditional countertop products such as Formica, ceramic tile, marble and granite, concrete is still a material that both architects and consumers must come to trust as a preferred surface on which they can prepare meals and entertain guests. While we know that the aesthetics of concrete countertops can exceed other countertop options, the market, in order to grow, requires ongoing assurance through a reputable organization that this type of concrete product is an added value to any environment.
Concrete Decor, as well as other decorative concrete magazines and online services, make it possible for consumers to easily attain lots of photos and information on beautifully crafted concrete countertops by contractors across the country. However, a conference such as this is a unique opportunity to participate in developing an organization filled with talented, trained professionals who instill creditability and uphold quality.
To learn more about getting involved, or about the next Concrete Countertop Conference, visit the Concrete Countertop Institute's new Web site at www.concretecountertopinstitute.com or call (888) 386-7711.