In an industry with more than its share of quick-and-easy but undependable concrete solutions, Rod Sadleir and his brother Gerry have attempted to separate themselves from the pack. “In manufacturing, we believe in using quality raw materials to produce products that are beyond the ordinary. Over time, a good quality product wins out,” Sadleir says.
Their San Diego-based company, Concrete Solutions Inc., wholesales products, stamps and tools for repairing, restoring, beautifying and protecting existing concrete surfaces. The company provides products and services to contractors and suppliers in the U.S. as well as in Hong Kong, Japan, Korea and throughout the Pacific Rim.
The Sadleirs started the business in 1986 and were contractors for nine years before they decided to concentrate exclusively on manufacturing, so their product systems were tested and proven successful through actual job applications. Now they also provide their expertise to others through a monthly training class and telephone or on-the-job support.
Two-day seminars are held monthly at Concrete Solutions’ training facility in Las Vegas, where the product systems have been used extensively on floors at the major hotels and casinos. The training seminar includes a job tour to show contractors that the systems are really working even when subjected to heavy pedestrian traffic.
“Choosing the right resurfacing system is so important to a contractor,” says Sadleir. “You want something that will last. You don’t want to have to worry about a callback.
“I believe that one’s reputation is their most important asset,” he adds. “Providing quality in products and services is key to building a successful business.”
A variety of resurfacing products
Concrete Solutions carefully tests and evaluates its product systems before promoting them to others. In 1997, after five years of testing and evaluating its 1⁄4-inch stamping system, the company was the first to introduce 1⁄4" stamped overlays at the World of Concrete show in Las Vegas. The secret is in Ultra Surface Concrete Polymer, an additive that is mixed with cement, sand and water to provide a polymer-modified cement that is stampable in a thickness of 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 inch. The system involves integral color using iron-oxide pigments and color powder release agents for antiquing. This creates the look of natural brick, tile, slate and stone in various textures and patterns.
The system achieves the beauty, elegance and natural appearance of traditional four-inch stamped concrete, yet the contractor doesn’t need to remove and replace the existing surface if it is stable. Using Ultra Surface Stamped Concrete Sealer and Ultra Surface Acrylic Urethane Sealer provides a protective sealcoat over the stamped concrete finish to enhance color and make it easy to clean.
Concrete Solutions also offers other product systems: 1⁄16" Resurfacing in a fine broom finish; a Spray-Texture system in a trowel-knockdown finish; a Color Flake system that has the appearance of granite or terrazzo; a Tuff-Grit system for durability and slip-resistance; and the Spray-Top system, which allows the contractor to spray a thin coat of Ultra Surface polymer-modified cement to restore or change color for staining.
The company launched its Spray-Top system at the 2002 World of Concrete Show. This application consists of a polymer-modified cement formulation applied with a specially designed paint pot and modified paint gun to cover an existing concrete surface with a thin coat of cement that is gray, white or integrally colored. The Spray-Top package sells for $2,500 and includes the equipment and enough product to cover 1,000 square feet.
After a year of testing and evaluation, Solutions recently introduced its Ultra Surface 200 Epoxy, a 100-percent solids epoxy that bonds to a dry, damp or wet surface. The product achieves a tenacious bond with the concrete substrate and makes an excellent prime coat, Sadleir says. “Contractors love to apply coatings to wet or misty surfaces and most of the time they get away with it, but if there’s too much moisture, there can be problems later,” he says. “I tell guys to put our Epoxy 200 on and go to bed, knowing that when they arrive there the next day, it’s dry, even when the surface was wet during application.”
Concrete Solutions sells the epoxy in concentrate, figuring that every contractor has access to water, one of the main ingredients. By not shipping water, they save on the price of shipping and have more product to use when the concentrate arrives.
Manufacturers and contractors learn from each other
Much of Concrete Solutions’ success has come from product systems they developed through their contracting experience. Also important has been listening to contractors in the field who have requested various needs and product solutions. “Here’s where you learn, when they call you up and talk to you. They use it in different ways than you thought of,” Sadleir says.
When a contractor is trying a product system for the first time, Sadleir suggests that a test area is done to learn first-hand about the application, the coverage rate of each product used and the actual cost per square foot. This information and the overall result will enable the contractor to personally evaluate the product system and give him or her confidence to recommend it to a potential customer.
Business is booming, Sadleir says. “Contractors and their customers are increasingly more aware of the options available in decorative concrete coatings over existing concrete and other surfaces. Even existing tile and linoleum floors can be coated rather than replaced.”
For additional information, visit the Concrete Solutions Web site or call (800) 232-8311.