Contractor training and knowledgeable staff help distributors push decorative concrete supplies
Decorative concrete is a construction industry trend that has seen a considerable amount of expansion over the last decade.
Homeowners, municipalities and commercial designers are embracing decorative concrete for its durability, ease of maintenance and visual appeal. The number of contractors offering decorative services has also increased over the last decade, along with the need for products and supplies to use on decorative stained and stamped floors, concrete countertops, overlays, epoxy flooring, polished concrete and more.
Jobsite Supply of Indianapolis, Ind., is a construction supply house that caters to general and concrete contractors. About seven years ago, the company began offering decorative concrete products and found those lines attracting new customers to their business and increasing their sales with existing contractors. They have the full gamut of customers, from walk-ins who pay cash to large general contractors performing decorative projects at hotels and DOT-type jobs with stamped and colored roundabouts and sidewalks. Some of their major decorative lines include Solomon Colors, L.M. Scofield, American Decorative Concrete Supply, Kemiko, Proline, Artcrete, Euclid and Stegmeier.
Ryan McCreery, sales rep with Jobsite Supply, says decorative concrete was a good fit for Jobsite Supply’s regular equipment offerings. “The decorative products supplement a lot of the equipment we were already selling, like mixers, sprayers, grinders, demolition equipment, early entry says and power tools,” he says.
Jobsite Supply employs knowledgeable staff who can troubleshoot problems on the jobsite, increasing repeat business with contractors who are looking for that support system. McCreery says just as important as knowledgeable staff is offering the right products. “We bring in the best products and manufacturers available in our market,” he says. “We have a lot of the top lines out there because certain manufacturers do better with certain products.
“You need to offer quality products,” he continues. “In the decorative market quality is more important that cost. When considering manufacturers you should look at how responsive they are, what kind of training they offer, where they ship from and how fast they can get you materials.”
John Saxe is president of Farrell Equipment & Supply Company, Inc. in Eau Claire, Wis., a five-location operation whose biggest customer base is involved in the concrete, masonry and general construction sector. His company started offering decorative concrete products 10 years ago, and today the lines are a large portion of his business. Some of Farrell Equipment’s major decorative concrete lines include Artcrete, TK Products, LifeTime Floors and Solomon Colors.
“We see the more progressive concrete contractors doing regular gray concrete and offering additional decorative features. They’re doing it because it means more money on the jobsite,” Saxe says.
Farrell Equipment has also seen its decorative products bring them new business. “Offering supplies for concrete countertops has opened us up to a lot of new contractors. We’re still seeing the concrete guys buy these products, but a lot of homebuilders and carpenters are doing this type of work. Forming is a big part of concrete countertops, so if you’re good with wood, you’re good at concrete countertops,” Saxe explains.
Once you have decorative concrete products in your store, you’re going to want to get them in the hands of contractors. Both Jobsite Supply and Farrell Equipment market their products through outside sales staff, e-newsletters, flyers and store events. But both Saxe and McCreery agree that training is the best way to grow a successful decorative concrete supply business.
“We never charge anything for classes,” Saxe says. “The whole idea is to get people trained. Concrete contractors who are a little bit interested might get into it if they knew more.”
Jobsite Supply holds in-house product training for contractors and through local ready mix suppliers. “Their customers are our customers,” McCreery says. “Anyone buying concrete would be a customer or potential customer of ours.”
McCreery is also involved with training through the Indiana Ready Mixed Concrete Association, which offers a Decorative Concrete Technician certification.
Saxe says another element to training is the focus his company puts on educating the sales staff on the products they sell. “With construction slowing down around Thanksgiving, we have two manufacturing training sessions a week for our guys – that’s training on any of our products. It’s good to know what all the suppliers have to sell and having educated employees to help contractors in all situations.”
Saxe says having quality concrete sealers is a big part of successful decorative projects. “This kind of knowledge can make or break a job for a decorative contractor,” he says. “You have to know which one to sell in the right situation.”
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