Edgar Martinez, Edgy Studios - Tools for a Small Concrete Shop - Fighting Burnout
Brandon and Jon talk about strategies for fighting the fatigue and burnout all concrete artisans face at some point. Then they talk shop with Edgar Martinez of Edgy Studios in Fort Wayne, ID. A big topic of conversation is the most important tools for a small shop.
If you are interested in the worlds best hands-on training, you'll want to register for the Pinnacle Concrete Camp being held November 1-6 in Eureka Springs, AR, learn more at www.ConcreteDesignSchool.com
TRANSCRIPT: Edgar Martinez, Edgy Studios - Tools for a Small Concrete Shop - Fighting Burnout
Welcome to the Concrete Podcast where we talk all things concrete. Featuring your host, Brandon Gore.
Brandon: Welcome to the Concrete Podcast. My name is Brandon Gore. I'm your host joined by my co-host Jon Schuler. Good afternoon, Jon.
Jon: Yeah. Good afternoon. Good to talk again.
Brandon: We had a little conversation earlier and you've been in contact with some guys today and a theme has kind of come about that we want to talk about, and that is burnout. Guys getting burned out on the concrete trade or whatever it may be.
Jon: You and me definitely talked about it over the years. You know, you kinda put your nose to the grindstone and before you know it, it's God, if I see one more countertop or if you produce one more of this look or one more, ramp sink, how do you break out of your funk? How do you move to another level? How do you introduce something new? How do you, stay motivated in what we're doing? That's a theme that's been hit pretty hard just today. Two phone calls from two artisans.
Brandon: Do you want to answer that question?
Jon: Well, I think you and me both have different and I'm interested to hear who we talked to you today kind of interested to see what he does. How did you do it, Brandon? I mean, we go through, I mean, everybody goes through it, right? When you go through it, I mean, what steps did you find that helped you either achieve a new level? Or just break out of the doldrums?
Brandon: Well, Jon, I'm glad you asked. That's a good question. Look at this, we're interviewing each other. I love it. How I have gotten through those times of just complacency and kind of stagnation is for instance, Hard Goods was my answer to that. I had been doing Gore Design Company from 2004 to 2012, so eight years. In that time period, I became known for sinks. All I did was sink sink after sink, after sink, after sink. It was getting very monotonous and very repetitive and just not fulfilling. I was in the shower and I had this idea for a chair. I could see it in my mind. I came in to the shop and I drew it full-scale on a piece of MDF and I had a guy working for me, Christian, and I said, we're going to build this.
I don't care about the client work for the next week let's just work on this. We started building a form, made the fiberglass mold, the whole thing, did it. Welded up the base, put it together. I never even sat in this thing before we built. I mean, it was done before I sat in it. We didn't do any mock-ups or test or anything. Got it done, loved it, loved it. I was like, yes, I didn't do it for anybody. I didn't do it for a client. I did it for myself. We ended up taking that chair to Dwell on Design that year. Last second essentially somebody canceled. We had reached out to Dwell about doing a possible booth, but it was like $10,000 bucks or something. They contacted me and said, hey, we just had somebody cancel. You can have the space for $500 bucks, but you have to be here like in a day, essentially.
I wasn't ready for it. I didn't have anything. I had two chairs that I had made at that point. I didn't have collateral like brochures, business cards, anything. I didn't have a website set up for Hard Goods. Essentially, I just had the name, the logo and these two chairs, but I threw them in my truck, drove to LA set up at Dwell. That year we won best furniture design of 2012 from Dwell, based on those two chairs. Where I'm going with this is, that was something that I did for myself. It was exciting and it was something I enjoyed as a personal project. That got me out of the funk. I've kind of gone through that again. I have a whole new line of furniture that I've been working on for now going on three years, whenever I have time. But every time I get into it, I really enjoy it.
That's kind of a side project and someday I'll release this collection of really sculptural fluid furniture that I've been working on for all this time. But it's kind of my side project that I work on in between other projects. It kind of keeps me excited and, just looking forward to concrete still where I'm not kind of dreading going into the shop.
Jon: Yeah. There you go. I'm just paraphrasing. At least what I'm listening to sounds exactly are along the lines that I do. That is you do whatever it takes to break out of your comfort zone. You know what I mean? It's like, stepping on glass, if you will. I do that a lot with sealer. When I'm designing sealers, I get ahold of a raw material manufacturer I haven't worked with. I ended up talking to one of their chemists who works for…
Brandon: Stepping on glass? Stepping on glass? You mean stepping on hot coals? Maybe Legos?
Jon: Well, I'm just saying, so your comfort zone, what I mean? Something that, it's let's say emotionally clashing to you. Yeah, I'll stay with Legos. Then, so what you're describing, I went through. I don't know if you remember years ago, Brandon, but I used to do all the, the colors, the veining, the modeling of colors and all that kind of stuff. In fact, I can remember one of the artisans out there who once posted on those old forums we had way back when that, why was I trying to make concrete look like stone because of what I was doing?
Then one day, I can't remember how long ago, but per what you're saying, I decided one day I was just tired of creating those looks. I was, I was tired of it. I didn't want to see one more. I had gotten very, very good at it, but it was time to break out. I literally, I remember my brother was working with me at the time. I shut our shop down completely and said, hey, we're going to start looking at it from this direction, which was all upright casting. We're going to focus on the tooling and figure out how do we create something beyond what other people essentially were moving, a driveway or a walkway up to somebody's countertops.
That was what we did. It got exciting again. I had no idea if anybody would like it. I wanted to break out of that humdrum and that's what we did. Now we've taken an an entirely different direction. That was my way of breaking out.
Brandon: Yeah. That's one thing that I've done and something you've done. The other thing that I've done, which we touched on with Jess Warren, that he brought up is an exercise where I do a design each day, a design a day. Get a notebook and every day, take 10 minutes to sketch out something. It's good for a couple reasons. A, the more creative you force yourself to be the more creative you become, because it's a discipline, it's repetitiveness gets you in that mindset. Second of all, it increases your sketching ability.
The more you sketch, the better you get, the better you get at being able to convey ideas on paper, which is good. When you're trying to explain it to a client or to the guys that work with you, hey, this is what we're doing. You can draw it out. Over the years, I've gotten way better at that vs when I first started, because I spend time doing it. Lastly, at some point, a broken clock is right twice a day. At some point you're going to have all of these kinds of bad ideas, but you're gonna land on a good idea. I can flip through this book and I have all kinds of wild ideas. Some of them are great, a lot of them aren't, but it doesn't matter. They're just sketches. They're just ideas.
But through that process, you'll come to a point that you have a really good idea. Then you get excited about that and then start expanding down that path, whatever it may be. Maybe it's planters, maybe come up with this really rad idea for a planter design. Then you can expand on that and come out with a collection of planters and tables and what have you that all relate to that design. But that's the process. Doing that helps keep things fresh and exciting. Again, looking forward to, going to work each day.
Jon: That's actually for our conversation earlier today, that's what I was talking to one of the guys up there in Michigan, who is getting ready to go into shoulder surgery, by the way, who's also going through burnout right now. He was like, Jon, what do I do for six weeks? I literally brought up this example to him. No, I personally haven't done it, but I think it is a really, really cool example of something all of us should be doing. I'm going to start employing it more. What you're just saying is to sit down and spend some time jotting this stuff down and see where it moves forward. I mean, that is not something I have done. I'm actually excited to implement that a little bit, moving forward and see where it goes. I think that's a good one. Yeah. I think that's a good one.
Brandon: What else? What else is new?
Jon: Oh, that was it. The other was like I said, talking to Jason today, he's getting burned out because he, when he first started his business, I think he's only been in business a year or maybe it's been two years. He's been following a path based on training that he's taken at Concrete Design School. At that time, super excited about these new things he learned. He went home, he implemented those things, started his business around it. Now he's found in a funk where he has repeating what he's been doing over and over and over again, that he's ready to challenge himself into something new.
That's what he was calling me about today. I said, what are some ideas? I threw ideas across the table to him and how to break out of that and of the burnout, meaning not that he's burnt out on business by any stretch of the imagination, but he's ready to start following either a new style or his own style. That's always a good part of this conversation as well.
Brandon: What's happened is he's really built his business around the DustyCrete aesthetic, which is great. But he's wanting to do something different or like you said, make his own path. Now he's got these techniques figured out and he's good at them. Now he wants to kind of morph those into something uniquely him, which a lot of guys have done. They've gone to the DustyCrete class. They go home, they get good at it. Then they tweak it and kind of start going their own way and developing their own specific look with that as the foundation, now they have a whole new look that kind of puts them in a different class.
Jon: Yeah. find that excitement again. It's exciting again. Now you're starting to at least feel like you're carving your own path and that's where he's at.
Brandon: I think one of the things that you probably discussed was Maker Mix. You can do DustyCrete. I mean, Dusty's going through pallets, several pallets a month. But you can also use Maker Mix to do very clean, modern finishes to do upright cast hand tooled finishes to do sprayable finishes. You can use this amazing tool in your toolbox and do anything you want to do. You're not stuck to just doing one look.
Jon: Right. That certainly was part of the conversation now that we're talking about Maker Mix was, and that's other than the obvious, like, hey Jon, what I was doing, it wasn't just that, I mean, he was calling me to say, what are other ways that I can use this material to achieve this, whatever it is he was trying to achieve. That really was the bones of it. He's actually, if not today, he was ordering another pallet and some add mixture. That's what he was. What do I do now with Jon? How can I adjust the fibers? This is what I'm hoping to achieve. So that's where I set them down a path to start carving his own way. For him, that's one of the major benefits is having that versatility. Once again, the knowledge behind the ability for that versatility by the people that are using the materials.
Brandon: I have a couple of things I want to discuss before we interview Edgar Martinez, who's going to be our guest today. The first thing on that list is we have a new website for Kodiak Pro getting ready to launch, hopefully within the next week. It's going to be really amazing. We've been working on this website now for months and logistically, it's been a lot of moving parts, a lot of different coding and plugins and different things to get everything to work the way we want it to. But we're finally there and it's exciting. Be on the lookout, Kodiak Pro in the very near future is going to have a brand new website. That's going to make the ordering experience a lot easier, more conducive, fluid, all that good stuff. The second part of that is going to be freight, what we've experienced with Kodiak Pro so far is we're a small company. The freight companies view us as a very small fish and they don't give us very good pricing.
When you buy Maker Mix and the freight carriers give us pricing, whether it's XPO, Old Dominion, R+L, whatever it is, that price is pretty high. For some guys, that's kind of a shock when we get the freight invoice and we thought it's going to be $600 bucks and it's $1200 bucks, which just happened yesterday. That's kind of a shocking thing. What Joe Bates found out was he set up an account with e-shipping.biz. He was able to get much better rates than what we were getting through our freight accounts, our corporate freight accounts. The direction we're going when a new website launches is when you place an order for Maker Mix, TBP, or RADmix.
Pretty much all the stuff's gonna be shipping direct from Springfield, Illinois, if you place an order, you're gonna get a total weight of your shipment and directions on how to schedule your own freight. Some guys have freight brokers they have used in the past and they have accounts set up for those brokers. Great. You can call your broker say, hey, I just placed an order. I have a pallet that weighs, 1,466 pounds. Here's the pickup address, send me the BOL and then you can forward the BOL onto our contact. That's one way, the other way is you'd set up an e-shipping account, which will have very detailed instructions on how to do that.
You'll set up in e-shipping account on your first order, and then have everything saved in the system for pickup address and contact and who to send the BOL to. Essentially from that point forward, anytime you buy Kodiak Pro products, you'll get this confirmation email with your weight. You will call your account person at e-shipping. Hey, I have a pickup, Kodiak Pro here's the weight. They have everything saved. You pay for the freight. They give you all your stuff. It's on its way. There's two good things about that. The main thing is you get much better price on freight. We've tried our hardest to get freight discounts with these carriers. It's just not gonna happen. This way we're able to help our customers not pay really high prices on freight. This whole time, every time we have these freight bills come in, we charge exact freight to the penny. We don't mark it up at all. We actually lose money on freight because a lot of people pay with credit card, so we’re paying 3% on that.
We're losing 3% on these freight charges. But that's kind of been our experience so far and the freight prices are high. You'll get a better price on freight. Secondly, whenever you have questions about freight what's happened is you'll email me or Jon and say “hey guys, I placed an order a week ago. Do you have tracking?” Well, then we email our person, our blender. It takes him a day to get back to us. They email us and we email you. Then you're like, “well, I need to have it diverted to here.” Okay. Then we email them. They email the carrier. They emailed back. We email you. It's going to be a lot easier for you to just call e-shipping or your broker. Hey, what's up with that freight? Oh, it's here. Great, question answered. There's not this lag, this two or three day lag that we have right now of getting information.
Jon: The major benefit I see is getting the tracking information, far more efficiently than where we're currently at, at the moment.
Brandon: Yeah. Tracking and just updates. Just to be able to make changes. That's going to be a lot better. Anyways, look out for that. That's going to be coming very soon. We're going to have detailed instructions on the checkout page on the email confirmation you’ll receive, but that's the direction we're going with Kodiak Pro. The last bit of news to talk about is very soon, we're going to be selling 20 pound pails of the best plasticizer, TBP, that you can order and have shipped with your pallets of Maker Mix or RADmix.
They're going to be stocked at our distribution warehouse in Springfield, Illinois, and they can fulfill that order. We're going to be stocking AR glass fiber there. You can order bags of glass fiber. If you do GFRC and we're working on stocking PVA fibers as well. Those will be shipping. Now a little side note is for guys that don't know, there is zero margin in fiber, zero. Not 1%, not 2%, literally zero margin. There some guys that have not kept up with the COVID price increases that are still selling fiber on their website for a loss right now, because apparently they haven't looked at their invoices and seeing that they're getting charged more at a wholesale rate than they're selling at a retail.
Those numbers are almost exactly the same. Once you pay for freight, you're at 0% markup. When you see our fiber and you look at the price and you look at some other guy's price, you might think, oh, these guys are marking it up. Believe me, we're not marking it up at all. We're selling it as convenience.
Jon: If there's any money to be saved, in my opinion, it was solely based on packaging it all together, being shipped out together with the pallet, the plasticizer and the fiber. Hence, there's a saving in that. But other than that, to anybody listening, no, there's no room to mark up anything. That's just being straight.
Brandon: We're carrying fiber so we can be a one stop shop. They can place the order online for Maker Mix, a bag of fiber, a pail of TBP. It all goes on one pallet. It ships to you and you save on the freight versus contacting this company for fiber, contacting us for TBP, and it's been shipping from my location in Arkansas. That's a separate freight charge. We're going to bundle everything together, but there's zero margin. If people say, hey, we're going to buy fiber from this other company because we can get it cheaper. You know, if you take into account freight, I don't think it's going to be cheaper. I think it's going to be more expensive. But if you say that, that’s fine with us. If it's an item that people aren't interested in purchasing, no skin off our back, we actually pay a storage fee at our warehouse for them to store it.
The longer it sits, the more money we lose. If it's not in demand, we'll stop carrying it. But if it's something that you do want to buy, we're going to stock it here very shortly, test it out, see how it goes. It's purely a convenience for our customers to make it easy for them to get everything they need on one pallet. That's the news of the week. Do you have anything you want to add, Jon?
Jon: Nope. Not at all.
Brandon: Okay. Well, let's get Edgar Martinez. We're here with our guests this week. Edgar Martinez of Edgy Studio. Hello, Edgar.
Edgar: What's going on Brandon? Good to hear from you guys. I think I saw you guys last at the August class or no, that was October. Where was it? Tennessee or in Arkansas somewhere.
Brandon: Yeah, the last class we held here was the Spring class, I think February. That was here. Did you come to that class?
Edgar: I was, remember I was the grill master.
Brandon: You were the grill master that's right. Yeah.
Edgar: That was a sweet location. That was a sweet Airbnb.
Brandon: Dusty rented this cabin here in Eureka Springs. It's pretty much right in town, but you would have felt like you're a million miles away. It was in this ravine, in this wooded hollow, this really cool cabin. I don't know him in a few different guys were standing there. I think you were one of the people staying there. That was the party spot. We'd all go there and Edgar was grilling on the grill, with his headlamp on and there was beer and whatever else was there, who knows? It was just a really, really good time. What's new with you, Edgar?
Edgar: Not a whole lot, man. I've been kind of back in town. I was working with Dusty there for a while, been going back and forth. Finally I been here in town for, oh, probably like three months now.
Jon: When you say in town where are we talking about?
Edgar: Fort Wayne, Indiana. I'm from Indiana Northeast, Indiana.
Jon: Very cool. Did you pick up a space? Are you working?
Edgar: Yeah, I'm working out of my garage. It's a two car garage and then I got some some patio space that's under a roof out in the back. Been making it work with that.
Jon: I miss those days. I mean, I think we talked earlier. I mean, I've when I first started this, I was working out of a single bay of a three-car garage and overhead was low, did a lot of really cool projects out of there learned a lot of good lessons out of there. Yeah. I mean sometimes it goes beyond you so good for you.
Edgar: Yeah. Yeah. It keeps me organized and I got it all laid out to where I got my little batching station, to weigh out, all this stuff for forming and stuff. Yeah, it's nice. I look forward to a bigger shop, but there's definitely no stress with, having to pay for a shop or anything. It's just my mortgage.
Brandon: You worked with Dusty quite a bit. How did that happen and how much have you worked with him? Cause it seems like all the photos he posts Edgar's there in the shop or on installation.
Edgar: Yeah, man. pretty much 2019, I took all of your classes. Then at the end of the last one, I remember asking you, cause I kinda knew already at that point that I wanted to get some more exposure, constant exposure to it. I asked you about, having an apprenticeship opportunity and you're the one that actually suggested Dusty. He's in Tennessee. That's only like seven hours, I say only seven hours, but I'm actually tired of that drive. I went over there in March, March of 2020, and then I ended up doing, I think it was supposed to be one month unpaid and then COVID happened. I ended up going back to Indiana just to pretty much talk to my boss. I told him that I wanted to do another month. That was two months that I did. Actually two months and like a part of May. That was our first time over there, my first time. Then I went back to Fort Wayne, sold a couple of jobs and then he ended up reaching out to me saying he was super busy, again.
All in all man, it's been like a year and a half of going over there back and forth and occasional breaks in between. I'd come home for like three weeks sometimes. Depending on what kind of workload I had. It's been awesome. He kept me employed for the most part just while I was trying to figure out the material.
Brandon: Well, I know he wants to hire you full time. Every time I talked to him, he says he’s going to make an honest man out of you.
Edgar: Yeah, no, we were grooving man. I could tell, I could tell the value I was bringing and it's kind of hard to get that type of repetitiveness when you don't really have that many jobs coming in. That was perfect, having that opportunity.
Brandon: He stays super busy.
Edgar: Yeah, for sure. Even just seeing like the way his shop was set up it kind of gave me some direction with, how I wanted to do things back at home.
Jon: You're doing a one man show at your place?
Edgar: Yeah for the most part it's me. I have a roommate. I usually just have him help me, like whenever I'm flipping pieces, just stuff like that. But most of the forming and whenever it's time to just pour mud, I do that by myself. Then, install days, I'll use some friends' help as well.
Brandon: Being a one-man show working out of your garage, what's been the biggest struggle you faced?
Edgar: Just maneuvering pieces. I honestly think that's about it. I've tried having some friends, stand by and watch me mix and just kind of waiting for them to try to offer a hand. But it's easier when they don't have as much exposure to it. Mostly just handling pieces. That's where I usually use help.
Brandon: Working in a small space hasn't been a challenge? You've kind of figured out a work around it?
Edgar: Yeah. I've had three kitchens going at once and so that's a challenge of moving things out of the way. But like I said, I got that little back patio space. Handling carts became an issue at some point. I had to fabricate a steel cart and there's a local stone fabricator guy in town that actually sold me a couple carts.
Brandon: What tools do you use in a small space? What's your saw set up? What's your mixer set up?
Edgar: I have a miter saw. Then I have a table saw that I usually have to wheel out of the light, some storage space in the backyard, but I also have the tracks saw. I use the Festool track saw for all of my two-inch rips. Yeah. The table saw, it's nice too but it's always nice not having to take it out.
Jon: Especially if it's a portable, right?
Edgar: Yeah you just can't get steady with that. That was one of the awesome things about working with Dusty. It's like, dude, this saw is so impressive. That was kind of cool, but I'm also not pumping out as much as he does so I can do with a track saw usually figuring out how much I need.
Brandon: I haven’t used a table saw since 2006 or seven, I got rid of it. I had a cabinet saw. I had a Delta cabinet saw, I don't know, like a five horse or six horse or so I don't know what. It was the biggest one. It was huge. I was scared to death. I worked by myself all the time. I was scared to death about that thing kicking back and doing some serious damage. Back then, like 2006 Festool was around, but not like it is today. Like it was still very boutique. It was hard to find stuff. European blades, it was difficult, but I made the switch. I've used it ever since. Love it. Love it. Festool. Great saw. Dewalt makes one now. Makita makes one now. I think they're all comparable as far as quality these days. The only one that looks kind of hokey is the Kreg set up.
Edgar: For a two car garage and I probably don't have the best dust extraction, but the Festool is awesome for that, for their vacuum systems. I bought that from probably the first class I took with you guys. Honestly there wasn't much direction on which way I wanted to go with. I ended up buying Jon's suggestion for the palm sander. What about the Festool one? The 1.5 for 150 I think. I pretty much just, I kind of went all in when I first took those few classes. I ended up buying a bunch of randomness and the Festool miter saw is the one that I use pretty much all the time. Then I bought an Imer 120 that's also like pretty much got to have it.
Jon: Especially when we went to the 120+. The stronger motor hands down. Yeah. I think I use that 80% of the time now. In fact, I'm getting ready to sell one of my 240s. I just don't use them anymore. I use that 120+ all the time.
Brandon: Didn't you burn yours up running it backwards, Jon constantly?
Edgar: I did.
Brandon: Oh, you did too.
Edgar: I burned up my Collomix. For the longest time, I was just using a hand paddle man. Beating the hell out of it. I was actually during a job, and so that was just kind of like, oh shit.
Jon: Well, hang on. What materials were you using at that time?
Edgar: Oh we're gonna get to that. After that everybody was like, wait, you've been blending ECC with a Collomix? I was like, yeah, I have.
Jon: Cause that's what I was gonna say, man. The one thing I love about the materials I'm using now, is I can't. I was just in a situation where doing a cast in place project. I think I even posted this on the one of the webpages and I made a mistake in my measuring. Well, a mistake in what I put it in my spreadsheet and I was off. I have a 360 for when we to do cast in place, the project I thought called for six bags, the water, the fiber, the whole nine yards blended everything up. It was beautiful. You know that sinking feeling and my brother's helping me, this is a Sunday and he comes in and first my son who's 13, it's summertime. He's helping me on some stuff. He's like, hey dad, that's the last of the mix.
My first thing is to turn to him and I'm like, boy, don't you talk like that. That's not funny. He's like oh yeah sorry. Then I go walking outside and I'm like to my brother, I'm like, hey man, how much mix? He goes, oh, that's it. I'm like, oh my God, you gotta, I have five feet left of this project to finish up. Yeah. I boogie down to the shop, long story short. I mean, I'm not putting two bags in an Imer, 360. Dumped both bags in a 15 gallon muck bucket, pulled out the Collomix single paddle. I'm telling you what with that and the TBP it mixed up so quick.
Edgar: The mixing is so much better with that Maker Mix for sure.
Jon: Brandon and I have known each other for a long time. There are times when, over of the years, the two of us, jokingly will give each other a little grief. We were at one of the get togethers back when we had Epic in Georgia. I'll never forget this because for me, this is one of those occasions where, so anyway, I'm mixing up some of the original materials.
Brandon: One of the occasions where, what? I was right? Just say it.
Jon: There's a bunch of people there. Some materials got blended up. I was trying to QC it right then and there. Clearly some mistake was made in the blending. I'm over there just beating the snot outta myself. Of course, nobody knows the emotion going inside, because I'm kind of in freak out mode. Like what is going on here? Just then Brandon comes walking over and I thought, this is one of the moments he was gonna give me grief. I snapped at him, and he was just being honest. He's like, hey man. Is ECC that hard to mix up or something. I don't even remember what he said, but I remember I had fire in my eyes because everything between the panic and the frustration and the, oh my, this is in front of a whole group of people.
I looked at Brandon and I just snapped at him. Then he goes walking off and had to go back up and apologize to him later for being a jerk. But anyway, I'll never forget that my point being is even under the perfect conditions that particular mix can be a bit of a booger to mix up by hand.
Brandon: It was impossible.
Edgar: I don't think it ever went well. I think I was always chasing the mix. I think I was always like, oh, let's add more plasticizer. Even in just the quality of the looks, it was never great.
Brandon: Yeah. In the class Jon always tell people, oh no, you can hand-mix ECC. Like so calm and nonchalant. Your a liar, you can't hand-mix ECC. That stuff is horrible to hand-mix.
Edgar: I don't know how you do it. Probably by mixing, like a hundred pounds at a time or something. I don't know.
Jon: But even then only 50 pounds at a time if we set up, no, that would be it. If we had to start from otherwise that particular mix, the Imer mixer is the way to do it. Yeah. No question about it. Hand mixing was a workout. No question about it.
Edgar: No, it always was. Those were those things. But like I said, I don't really have it all figured out. I've always been a student. It was just one of those hard earned lessons.
Brandon: Here's what I would say because the conversation about tools in a small shop is a good one. Especially for the guys listening, the guys and gals. People listening to this podcast is, a lot of them work in small spaces and knowing the most important tools is a good thing to discuss. For me personally, I could go anywhere in the world with tools in the back seat of my truck and do what I do. That would be a Festool track saw or any track saw. Any brand of track saw. A handheld Collomix X06 mixer, which is their bigger one single blade. Yeah. I'm a fan of the single blade. I do not like the double blade. It's okay for PVA fibers. It destroys glass fiber. Single blade and a hanging digital scale, which, you can pick those up on Amazon or other places for a hundred bucks, a good quality digital hanging scale, so I can batch everything precisely.
A Kreg pocket screw jig, just one, you get at Lowes. I have the Foreman, which is kind of the big one that's permanent, but you could have the little handheld one, which I have a few of those, and put that in your truck. I could take those four things anywhere in the world and build world class concrete pieces using those tools. God bless Dusty. His shop is phenomenal, but you don't need those tools to do what we do. That just makes it easier.
Edgar: Yeah. No, I agree. That was one of the things that was really attractive about pursuing this thing. You know, it's like you don't need too many tools. You just need the right tools.
Brandon: Yeah. You could invest a thousand bucks and have everything you need to get started. If you invested $2,000, you'd have top of the line, you'd have Festool dust extraction. You'd have a really good Kreg, but you don't need those things. You can get by with the Makita track saw and a lower quality handheld mixer. There's a few different brands. I'm trying to think of the main one that we always see at World of Concrete. What's that company Jon? Eibenstock is cheaper than Collomix. They're supposedly good. I've tested them.
I've gone to World of Concrete and they have a booth set up and you can play with them in buckets of sand and feel the torque and they feel good. But anyways, there's equivalent to all these tools that are lower cost that are good quality. You could get into this for a thousand bucks in tooling and invest in quality training, which we'll talk about training in a minute and then get good quality mix and be turning out really high quality work in a very short amount of time without a big debt or huge investment.
Jon: Well, to add to that though, I mean, as you guys know, we've talked over the years, the sanders that I've gone through from the Mirka, which are great, fine finishing Sanders to the Festool, the Rotex Sanders. If someone needed one sander, that would be my go-to for a sander and I have that set up with the Rotex, and the vacuum and the whole nine yards. I mean, those things are those, those Rotex are a powerhouse. The price is scary, but they eat it up. They definitely rip through some stuff.
Brandon: Tools and equipment. We covered that. Mix. It doesn't matter what mix you used before, but you made a switch to Maker Mix. Why did you make the switch to Maker Mix?
Edgar: Because that's what we did in Dusty's shop. The whole first three months or so we were mixing the other kind. He had his set of procedures and we would load up our plasticizer and we'd always end up following it with some more. Usually it was like liquid. I think it was one of the classes where you guys like took out the new mix and we gave it a try. Once we poured enough with it, man, it's just what we went with. No longer had to keep sand or Portland in the shop.
I just didn't wanna, deviate from what I was comfortable with. That's what I've been using.
Brandon: You've been happy with it?
Edgar: Yeah. Yeah, man. It's pretty brainless work. You just, follow the instructions. It's always been pretty good. Yeah. Yeah. It's been great.
Jon: If I'm hearing you, right, you're saying that you are less apt to chase it.
Edgar: Yeah for sure. I think a lot of times, depending on how much ice we were using, we would just kind of like, load up a little bit over half the dry mix and we kind of get ahead of it. Then after that you can just open a new bag, dump it in and there's not much tweaking. It takes off pretty quick, but if you're ready for it yeah it's good.
Brandon: Which is good. For most guys, the speed of it is a benefit. That's something that is designed into it. Because what we don't want is to be waiting six, eight hours to be able to get on it and do what we need to do. Carve edges like you guys do.
Edgar: That is probably done in like three hours. We're usually cutting backs.
Brandon: What's been your experience with training? You came to Concrete Design School class. Did you take any other classes?
Edgar: No. That was the first one at the time. I was just kind of fed up with my previous job, which, I was doing flat work building gas stations for like seven years doing concrete. I've always enjoyed it. I started kind of looking into like, man, I kind of wanted to focus on learning a new skill and I found you guys, took your first class, I really didn't know anything honestly, but it was awesome. Just kind of like, I think whenever I got to see like some of the work that was at your shop in Arkansas, there was the benches, and there was just like an evident change in like that concrete versus, like your flat work and stuff.
Brandon: You came to class, you left. When you left, what did you do initially after training? Did you start your company? Did you go back to work to doing flatwork? You just kinda played around with it.
Edgar: Yeah. Yeah. It was just a little quick little view of what it could be. I met, well you know Joseph. Joseph was at your first class and he had talked me into asking you for the sink mold that we had done that class. That was pretty cool for me. It almost felt like breaking comfort and asking you. It was like, yo, let me get that sink mold. His plan was like, yo, you're gonna go back, try to fabricate this mold and then that'll pay for your next class.
That was the plan. He seemed like as a maker, I think he really thought that there was value to taking that post-tension class. I went back home. It was probably a couple months in between your classes that year. I was still employed. I was working for like a remodeling company, mostly carpentry work. I was navigating through marketplace. Facebook marketplace, just trying to post some advertisements for countertop work. That's most of the work I did. I didn't start my company until August. There was probably six, seven months of just doing work like that.
Brandon: What was your first paying project?
Edgar: Little kitchen job was probably like 32 square feet, warm gray. It was a local builder. He's a young guy too. I was able to slide into his DMS and I'm like, hey man, I talked him into it. He loved it man. He loved the feel of them. Then I did I think a sink for a couple that are from town and they've came back and they've had me do like a custom vanity for them as well.
Jon: What have you found important to you that's helping to build your business? For advertising in your area? What did you find ways of, getting hold of new work? What is working for you?
Edgar: Marketplace has worked out great. You boost some posts. I don't know, it's like $12 bucks or whatever and you get a bunch of views. So you get a bunch of people that reach out interested. I think that counts for something. If you really do well with that conversation, you might get something. Recently though I made posts and I just don't get the same reaction. Now I'm leaning more towards meeting designers and builders in person.
I had to do a sample kit just so that I could have like a conversation piece. I think word of mouth. There's been a few jobs that have come from one guy really loving the job I did for him. He's referenced a couple of his coworkers.
Brandon: Have you experienced any type of burnout to date with concrete?
Edgar: Yeah. Yeah, I did. Man. We were going so heavy in Tennessee. No exaggeration. We were probably working 12 hour days with Dusty and then I'd go up and eat dinner with them. I was working on some projects that I had going on in Indiana. I think some days I was stopping at like 2:00 AM, 3:00 AM. Between the long days between working down in Tennessee for like two weeks at a time and then coming home and trying to do installs from jobs that I was doing over there or just even just things around the house, that's never really stopped. I experienced some burnout and that was my little two week trip that I took two weeks ago. That was my withdrawal. I needed to kind of like back up for a little bit.
But before that it was definitely balls to the wall.
Brandon: Tell us about that trip. I saw on Instagram that you went on a crazy hiking trip. There was forest fires going on. Where'd you go?
Edgar: It's lake Tahoe. It's nestled in between California and Nevada. It's 172 mile trip if you circumnavigate around Lake Tahoe. We did it in 11 days. We were trying to keep like a 20 mile a day pace. On some days we had 12 miles. That was the first two days. But then after that, we pretty much picked it up and yeah, there, some smoke. That was part of the challenge. That was a good time. That was last minute. That was a last minute decision. I ended up inviting myself with a buddy of mine. That was it man. Came back. I had some tendonitis after doing that. I was trying to make it up north to Yosemite, but I just, after 11 days I was just kind of so ready to be home.
Brandon: That brings me to my last topic for this podcast is we have the training class coming up November 1st through 6th, the Pinnacle Concrete Camp with me, Jon and Dusty teaching for six days. Are you coming down to that Edgar?
Edgar: Yeah. I'm trying to figure out if I gotta invite myself or is that if Dusty's gonna ask me. I'll try to be there. I always love those things. It's cool to just hang out with like-minded people and just the networking that comes with it. It's always good.
Brandon: That time of year, it's beautiful. The leaves are right at the very tail end of falling. But it's nice crisp evenings. Great for sitting around a campfire. It's really beautiful time of year.
Edgar: It's a good proximity from Crystal Bridges too. There's like a lot of you can do around there.
Brandon: Yeah, even though COVID is still going on, really in Northwest Arkansas, you wouldn't know it. All the restaurants are open. All the bars are open. Crystal Bridges is open. The Momentary, which is the museum of modern art at Crystal Bridge is open. Everything is open. I still practice social distancing. I wear a mask if I'm in a crowded space. I'm vaccinated. Come November, people coming here will have a good time. There's a lot to do. Play it safe. Don't be crazy. But, there's a lot to do here for sure. Well guys, I think we came to an ending point. We're going on on almost an hour right now. it's a good place to end.
Edgar: Nice edit that. That make me sound good.
Jon: I look forward to seeing you in November.
Edgar: I'll see you guys in November, man. Hey Brandon, don't forget to update that PayPal invoice.
Brandon: Yeah. Edgar bought a pallet of Maker Mix today and he's gonna get a bag of TBP added to it. I gotta get that out to you. You're gonna get the new bags the printed bags. Which Dusty had them.
Edgar: I drank the Kool-Aid. I drank the Kool-Aid.
Brandon: It’s good Kool-Aid, it won’t kill you.
Edgar: Yeah, it tastes like blueberries.
Brandon: Cool man, take care, we’ll see you in November.