Get started on your creative concrete journey by hearing from three alumni of the Concrete Countertop Institute. Hear advice directly from concrete professionals on how to start, improve and thrive in this industry.
“High standards pay off.”
In only three years, Concrete Countertop Institute graduate Drew Teaman has built a successful custom concrete business—ConcreteCommander.com—in Jacksonville, Florida, with 6 employees and a company-owned building.
“[At first] I did a lot of DIY stuff, helping people out, and then I got into concrete very, very slowly,” he says. “One day, I decided I was going to go for it and started this thing on my own.”
Where the aspects of customer service are concerned, Drew sets high standards and it pays off in boosting the company’s reputation and customer relations.
Good salespeople know that managing expectations is a significant part of customer service, something that, from his many years in sales, Teaman brought to his business. Sometimes, that means educating customers about what custom concrete work really entails.
Teaman makes an effort to reach out to the customers so that they understand the work involved with GFRC. “We just walk them through. They’re like ‘Okay, I get it,” he explains. “For most people, they understand that it’s an expensive product because it’s hand-made.”
He credits Jeff and Lane of CCI with offering a lot of insight into customer relationships. “Jeff and Lane did a good job of making sure you know how to set those expectations with customers, “he says. “There’s room for variation. This is a custom, hand-made product. As long as the customer understands that, it’s good.”
He credits some of his success to tenacity but, in the end, he still comes back to the people he works with, and that doesn’t mean hiring “yes” men. “You need a support network of people to check you; checks and balances,” he says.
“Make sure you’re prepared to invest in the right tools.”
Brent Indenbosch, an alumnus of The Concrete Countertop Institute, has a creative streak. Ability is one thing, but one must have the means to manifest their best ideas into something real, and something salable, of course. To that end, Indenbosch offers some excellent advice to those who might be considering starting up their own businesses, or even applying the skills they’ve learned just for themselves.
“Make sure you’re prepared to invest in the right tools,” Indenbosch replied when asked about what he’d advise people before starting out. “You need a decently sized shop,” he added, emphasizing that space is an important consideration when creating pieces. Indenbosch also recommended being aware of the time involved in creating a given project, as they can sometimes be surprisingly demanding in that regard.
“I’m really looking forward to going back [to CCI] again,” he said. Indenbosch believes that the real world experience he’s acquired since attending The Concrete Countertop Institute will help him to get more out of further education. He noted that having experience certainly gives one an edge in knowing which questions to ask.
“CCI is the basic institution for learning this trade.”
Jason Gillis of OASIS Custom Concrete Designs in Leominster, MA has a business that’s been steadily building steam since he attended The Concrete Countertop Institute. Formerly a flatwork concrete contractor, Gillis has been working on artisan concrete projects for major designers in the area he services.
Gillis has put a lot of effort, and creativity, into building OASIS Custom Concrete Designs. He went to work right away after getting his education at CCI. Asked what advice he’d give people just starting out as concrete countertop artisans, Gillis said “You’ve got to be confident, because it works. All these other businesses prove it works.”
“Getting paid education is key,” he said. “Like going to CCI with Jeff and Lane. I don’t think I could have learned it any better than what they taught. The technique you learn at CCI; that’s where the highest end of this trade comes from,” Gillis said. “Jeff’s amazing,” he added, “as is Lane.”
Gillis noted that the skills he learned at The Concrete Countertop Institute were foundational. “CCI is the basic institution for learning this trade,” he said.