Some 25 years ago, when decorative concrete was still very young, I started developing and making equipment because I needed an alternative process to concrete overlays which were, and still are, problematic and expensive. Over the years, I have continually worked to produce better, faster and more innovative methods and machinery to take existing concrete, no matter what it is, and cut patterns into it. I hold five patents and numerous copyrights and trademarks. I believe that integrity is important, and we’ve built Engrave-A-Crete on that cornerstone. We do right by our customers.
1. Tell us about the Engrave-A-Crete concept.
We specialize in teaching and tools for concrete engraving. Concrete engraving is the act of remodeling cured concrete by cutting patterns and texture into the surface. Engraved designs and patterns may simulate building materials such as wood plank, brick, tile, stone pavers or a variety of graphic patterns. Designs may be cut using saws or impact tools combined with a template. It is usually combined with coloring and sealing the concrete. We offer training that covers hands-on practice with Engrave-A-Crete tools and products on our concrete slabs, and the customer can then determine their level of investment based on the experience. We are not a franchise and we offer on-going technical support.
2. How and when did you become involved with Engrave-A-Crete?
I developed the concept of decorative concrete engraving starting in 1988. At the time I was a contractor looking for alternative ways to enhance concrete surfaces – floors, driveways, walkways, patios – without using troublesome overlays. I came up with the idea to put the design INTO the concrete surface, rather than adding it to the top. The first engravers I built were large, and I kept refining the design until they were a size that was easy to work with. There was an immediate demand. Engrave-A-Crete, Inc. was born and moved from a home-based business to a larger building. From there, we moved into our large manufacturing facility in Mansfield, MO. I have been CEO for the entire time.
3. What was your background prior to starting Engrave-A-Crete?
I spent my early years obtaining an Airframe and Power Plant Mechanics license and completing a stint in the Army. Following that I worked as an apprentice carpenter and a commercial construction superintendent, then went on to own and operate the largest commercial concrete sawing and drilling business in the four-state region of Montana, Wyoming and the Dakotas. We then moved to Florida where worked in the decorative concrete industry and began developing the Engrave-A-Crete tools.
4. What are some advantages of being an Engrave-A-Crete franchisee?
Many years ago I decided not to franchise our Engrave-A-Crete process because it is my opinion that most business people like to be shown how the process works and thereafter have the freedom to choose where they want to get their supplies, materials and business equipment. Our customers have a choice – if they feel they are getting good service and value by doing business with us, they’ll stay. This voluntary, not contractually enforced, business relationship keeps us on our toes. We work hard to keep our customers happy. We do not tell our customers how to run their businesses, but we are sure there if they need advice or an opinion. Having a relationship with a company who offers on-going technical support and unique, precision crafted tools are a couple of the benefits a franchisee should look for when starting or expanding a business.
5. Who is your ideal franchisee?
We are not a franchise. Our ideal customer is one who prefers not to work within the confines of a franchise such as paying fees or doing tasks in certain ways. The ideal franchisees like to do things their way, but know that they can draw on our expertise and experience when questions arise. He/she is a person of integrity who is willing to learn the Engrave-A-Crete processes and then apply those skills to do outstanding work for their customers.
6. Tell us a little about the Engrave-A-Crete's market.
There’s concrete everywhere, and every piece of it is an opportunity for our customers to make money. That being said, decorative concrete has up and down cycles just like all other businesses. One thing seems certain – when the economy is thriving then concrete engraving is good. When times are not so good, then property owners go about improving what they have instead of going to new construction so decorative concrete engraving is still good. It is usually more stable than many industries.
7. What advice do you have for someone looking to acquire a franchise?
Get off the couch and get busy. Do all the research necessary to find the right fit for you. Start small and build your business. Most of your success is up to you. Keep growing your knowledge of the industry you choose.
8. In your opinion, why do you think that Engrave-A-Crete would be a great opportunity for someone?
For many of our customers, Engrave-A-Crete is a stepping stone to greater things – a starter business with a low investment to get your feet wet and earn capital for the next life phase. For some we offer a retirement business that will not interfere with their lifestyle. Others choose to make decorative concrete engraving a life-long career that earns them a good living.