The atmosphere was inviting and the modest but eager crowd engaged at the 2019 Concrete Decor Show in Arlington, Texas, Oct. 28-31. Many of those who attended reported it was a great time to reconnect with old friends, establish new contacts, discover products and tools, and witness some of the industry’s elite — such as Troy Lemon, Emil Gera, Rick Lobdell, Cindee Lundin and Jake Brady — lead workshops on the convention floor.
“I reaped so much value taking the time to be here,” says Brian Farnsworth, general manager of Cement Colors in Fort Worth, who exhibited, led a seminar and helped with product demonstrations. “It was a great show. I met a lot of interesting people and I got 100% out of the show that I had hoped for.”
He says he especially liked the ongoing demonstrations held at a variety of locations on the convention floor that featured installation of products that were on display during the show. Attendees didn’t get swallowed up by a huge crowd, could see the products in action and ask questions that got answered on the spot.
Randy Smith of Texas Polished Concrete in N. Richland Hills came to the show to protect his livelihood. “I don’t want the industry to cheapen our trade,” he says. “We have a right to make a profit, to deliver good work for a good price.”
Smith attended Covestro’s invitation-only coatings seminar which he says was an enlightening experience that was very informing.
“I learned about options I could suggest instead of polishing,” he says, including the benefits of polyaspartic and penetrating sealers. Turns out, he continues, “Polishing isn’t always the best solution for large warehouse floors.”
“She had a very original take on what can be done with concrete as an art form and elevated my understanding about how versatile concrete can really be in the aftermarket,” Lesczynski says. “She went over the entire production pipeline,” and also covered marketing and product recommendations.
Carrla Leszcynski, the GFRC concrete lead for Gametime|Playworx, a company in San Marcos, Texas, that specializes in playgrounds, attended the show to get pointers on how to better carve and color sculptures for her projects. The show didn’t disappoint. She says she “walked away completely inspired” from the time she spent with Lundin of The Studio by Cindee Lundin in Marana, Arizona, who led a faux bois workshop.
“I would definitely recommend her very hands-on class to beginners all the way up to advanced concrete sculptors,” Lesczynski says.
Attending the Concrete Decor Show for the first time two years ago in Florida, Steve Seipelt of Amended Surfaces in Cincinnati (at right below) made the trek to this one in Texas. The soon-to-be retired firefighter worked alongside Lemon of Cornerstone Decorative Concrete in Holland, Michigan, and Gera of Emil J. Gera Concrete (below at left) in Weatherly, Pennsylvania, sculpting and coloring vertical concrete. “My favorite part (of the Concrete Decor Show) is being able to dive into the projects and do hands-on work. This is how you really learn.”
Seipelt says he was disappointed that there were so few hands-on workshops and no outdoor exhibits or demonstrations this year. Still, he says, “I picked up more tips and tricks from the artisans that I worked with. The more time you spend with them, the more they open up to you and are willing to share.”
Lobdell of Concrete Mystique in Nashville and Debbie Ohland of Engrave-A-Crete in Mansfield, Missouri, led a workshop on engraving and stencils to show attendees how an ordinary piece of concrete could be transformed into an enticing work of art by using stencils, engraving tools and dyes.
In another workshop, Brady of Jake Brady Concrete by Design in Sarasota, Florida, enlisted some attendees to help create a seamless 10-foot bench out of CTS RapidSet Cement and glass fibers. The massive GFRC unit was cast and demolded in the same day. The bench’s distressed yet slick finish was created with purposely over-plasticized concrete lightly sanded and then a high-gloss sealer was applied. As a finishing touch, it was accented with stains from the nearby vertical workshop’s supplies.
Aside from the workshops in the convention center and classes held nearby in the Sheraton Arlington, the Concrete Decor Show featured an evening preview and two days of exhibits where attendees could learn about products just released or well established, as well as see many of them in action.