Although a good grinder/polisher will take other types of pads besides diamonds, the industrial version of the gemstone is a must for a wide range of tasks. And, there’s the rub: just as with jewelry, these diamonds are seen as being expensive.
Those in the industry say it’s a perception people need to get past. Good diamonds can save labor, and it’s there, rather than with the grinder attachments, that costs really lie.
David Padgett of Concrete Polishing Solutions and the chairman of the International Polished Concrete Institute says studies have shown that 82 percent of the cost of being a polished concrete contractor is in labor, not materials.
“It has to do with the number of souls you put on a job and how much it costs to put them on that job and to keep them employed between jobs,” he says. “What you’re really selling is labor.”
For that reason, Padgett adds, it’s critical to buy equipment and tooling that will cut those costs as much as possible.
Of course, it’s important to know what you’re paying for tooling per square foot to figure your profit margin, but the reality is it often comes down to handful of cents per square foot, according to Ralph Newbigin of WerkMaster.
“We’ve heard many times that the price of diamond tooling is so expensive,” he says. “However, if you’re charging $6-$7 a square foot and you’re paying five or 10 cents a foot for the cost of tooling, it’s a rounding error.”
To further back up that contention, Newbigin says WerkMaster is in the final stages of developing a job-cost calculator app that should allow contractors to easily see their costs while working up a quote.
It’s a complaint Josh Jones of Substrate Technology Inc. says he’s heard many times, too. However, his company tries to view diamond tooling as a quality product, rather than a commodity.
“We like to talk about the long-term advantage you get with a quality product,” Jones says. “If I sell a tool for $100, and it gets 30,000 square feet, and you’re using a tool that costs $50 but gets 10,000 feet, where’s your value?”
The important thing, says Steve Klugherz of Diamatic USA, is that you’re using a tool that lets you get the production and speed out of the machine you’re using.
Jamie Krueger of Husqvarna Construction Products Americas agrees. “Great diamond tooling will increase your production rates, give a much better end result and make the job more profitable,” he says. “It can also keep the contractor’s labor cost down because you can save steps using better tooling.”