They say you are the company you keep, so it’s only natural that Ralph Gasser is one of the newest inductees into the Decorative Concrete Hall of Fame. In Ralph’s 51 years of concrete work, he’s rubbed shoulders with the biggest names in the industry, and he credits many of them with his success.
Ralph got his start in the industry when he was just 16, when he worked as a laborer at a concrete company. At the time it was only a way to make ends meet, but Ralph quickly grew passionate about concrete and its possibilities. “Driving around Hollywood, I would be looking at all of the flat driveways and thinking about how much you could do,” he says.
Even when he was stationed in Vietnam after being drafted at age 20, he couldn’t shake his newfound passion for concrete. In the midst of the war, Ralph poured small concrete projects for the military in his spare time.
Upon his return, he felt the need to get out of Los Angeles. He moved to southern Oregon, but the winter temperatures fought with his love of concrete. After five years, he had enough and relocated to Redding, Calif., where he lives today. It was in Redding that he made his mark, literally, on the concrete industry.
The stamped concrete trend was beginning to heat up, but Ralph lacked the funds to start his own franchise under the current manufacturers. His solution was to make his own set of stamping and imprinting tools. His invention, the Shasta Seamless Texture Mat, was one of the first large-scale texture mats in the industry, and it was created alongside another member of the Decorative Concrete Hall of Fame.
“Mike Archambault was with me when we crafted off that rock here in Shasta County,” he says.
Despite his innovation, Ralph kept his focus on the artistic side, and he kept close ties with Archambault. It was through Archambault that Ralph had the opportunity to do all of the hardscaping inside Sleeping Beauty’s castle at Euro-Disney. He’s also had the opportunity to demonstrate architectural concrete in England, Johannesburg, South Africa, and Beijing, China. Decorative concrete has been a truly global affair for Ralph.
His career stateside has flourished too. He’s been involved in some high-end commercial and residential projects, and he has had the honor of winning over half a dozen national awards for his efforts. His most cherished award is for his work at Brenden Theatres in Modesto, Calif., which he worked on with fellow Hall of Fame member Mike Miller.
“I had the opportunity to take the talent that is in me and put it in a different direction that I fell in love with,” he says. “It’s like painting a wall. It can be confusing to people who don’t understand where I’m going until I’m done. I’m very blessed to have the opportunity.”