We love catching up with our alumni and seeing their success on tricky projects. CCI alumnus Mark Schreck of Mark Schreck Concrete Designs in Olympia, WA recently completed a gorgeous outdoor kitchen for a house on the Puget Sound. We are pleased to be able to share some of his story and photos of this amazing project here. Great work Mark; thanks for sharing!
Freedom Isn’t Always the Easiest Choice
Like any concrete artisan Mark loves to stretch his wings and try new ideas, so when the clients for his outdoor kitchen project wanted him to take the reins he was excited. The client wanted a rustic, natural feel to their countertops (perhaps a rough finish with a slate-like feel), but Mark had a bit of a different vision. He explained that a smooth finish would be easier to keep clean, important for an outdoor kitchen, but integrated a chiseled edge to give the finished piece a rugged feel. The clients were a dream to work with. They told him, “You’re the artisan; do what you think is best.”
While Mark loved the freedom this project afforded, he found himself worrying about the choices he made. He knew that he loved the project and eagerly hoped his clients would too. The outdoor kitchen was in a large, upscale home, and he knew that this project could make or break his business. The clients were ecstatic with what he created and have enlisted his help creating a wet bar, desk, 2 bathroom countertops, and a 7’ diameter outdoor table (you can see the progress on this stunning table on Mark’s business’ Facebook page).
Growing His Business One Project at a Time
This project will certainly lead to more work for Mark both with these clients and with others. He’s found that the best way to grow a concrete countertop business is through quality work. This particular job came about when the home’s builder got in touch. The builder (Mark’s former high school principal by the way) received Mark’s card and gave him a call. Mark explains, “Referrals are essential in this business. It just takes 2 or 3 bad jobs and you’re done.”
Mark has found that his training with CCI has been a huge asset for avoiding mistakes and ensuring that each job is a success. When he attended the Ultimate Class with us about 2 years ago he had zero concrete experience, not even a mix design. During the course he learned what he needed to do to get started and came home and jumped right in.
“Seeing how a working shop was laid out helped me to design my shop when I got home. I used a modified version of the mix from the class and relied on the materials list to find the things I needed. Jeff has been a huge help; he’s always willing to get in contact and troubleshoot. His mentorship has saved me from countless mistakes.”
If he were doing things again he’d play around with concrete a bit more before coming to class. His advice to someone just starting out is simple, “Try a few projects around the house and get some questions. Then come to training. You’ll get more out of the course if you realize how hard it is. Things look so easy in class; it isn’t until you try for yourself that you discover what you need to know.” He also stresses the importance of training, “If you want to be successful you have to get training. If you come out and take the class and use the things you’re taught, you can be successful right from the start.”