Emerging from the Eclipse: Examining Hard Costs in the Decorative Concrete Industry

Welcome back to the Concrete Podcast! Post-solar eclipse 2024, we're diving into the vital topic of freight and material costs and their impact on profitability in the concrete industry. This episode offers a candid look at these financial challenges and presents practical strategies to navigate and overcome them. Tune in for an insightful discussion that's essential for anyone in the field, aimed at empowering you with the knowledge to keep your business afloat in these turbulent times.




Hello, Jon Schuler. Hello,

Brandon Gore. We're

still here after the solar eclipse of 2024. We

all survived. Yeah.



had no idea. I

didn't realize it was supposed to be the end of time. Did


you know there was an eclipse? Did

you know that was happening? I

did know an eclipse was coming on. Yeah.


here's what's funny, right? Because

I don't pay attention to that. I

was definitely watching the whole thing that there was this, you know, the path. I

guess that's the path that you went up to, right? Yeah,


the path to totality. So

you can see the full eclipse. But

anybody outside that path, you never actually get to see the full total eclipse. It's

just a part of it or something. Yeah.


went to where Taylor Swift was. And


that's the only reason I went there was I heard Taylor Swift was going to be there. I'm

like, honey, book a cabin right now. So

Broken Bow, Oklahoma, which was incredibly beautiful. I

had no idea how beautiful that part of the country is. I

assumed it was like Kansas. Kansas


is flat for the most part. And

I've been through Oklahoma and it's flat. The

parts I've been through, I assumed it was going to be like that. No,

dude. Broken

Bow. I

would envision it. I've

never been to Montana, but I've seen plenty of photos of Montana. It's

very much like Montana. It's

beautiful. It's


pine trees and meadows and mountains and rivers and lakes. And

it was absolutely mind -blowingly beautiful. No

idea. Yeah.


but yeah, we went to the path of totality, saw the full eclipse. All

three, I have three kids that all lost their minds at the exact moment of totality. They


all went nuts. My

two year old son is crying, right? My

four year old daughter is like, my neck hurts from like looking up at this guy. And

then my six year old just started babbling like, like, what is going on? So


it was an experience. It

was an experience. You

know, it's the next time 20 years from now, I'll be in my mid sixties. And

hopefully it's a little more chill that time around when we when we view the eclipse. But

yeah, it was an experience. But

you got to go to a new place, right? For

the path of totality. Yeah,


it's different next time. Yeah.


I've been sharing a lot of the concrete that people have been doing. The

Ramcrete's again, I'm not going to keep touting it, but it's really, really neat to see what people are. Everything

from sinks and drop faces and furniture. I


mean, there's a lot of really cool projects that people are pulling together with that. So

yeah, I want to switch off your, you know, get away from your broken bow. But

we can get off broke. Well,

no, I Ramcrete is really taken off. And,


you know, you mentioned earlier, somebody made a comment like, oh, it's just dry, bram concrete. And

you're like, what is that? I'm

like, well, look it up, John, look it up. You

looked it up and it's nothing like dry. No,

dry pack dry pack concrete. So

somebody made that comment on Instagram. You


know, oh, this is just dry pack concrete. And

you know, in we were talking about it, like, what is it? I'm

like, oh, John, it's a way of doing concrete. They

use a lot for, for like, I'm trying to think of what they call it. Like

man made stone. Yeah,

like wall caps and ballards and ballast rates. But


essentially they ram in like a super dry mix and it creates more like a sandstone looking texture, but it's nothing like what we're doing. And

so anybody thinks I can think whatever you want to think, but what we're doing. Imagine

the same thing. See

now I'm going to be, I'm going to bring out my petty side. I


could see somebody else since either yourself or you've been doing rammed earth for so long and then, you know, morph it into something that we can create similar, you know, aesthetics and looks that are just, I mean, they really are gorgeous. But

with the ability to be stronger and more durable for things like countertops. So


I could literally see somebody being like, you know, oh, those guys have to take credit for everything. A

brand and goer has to take credit for everything. I

mean, I literally could see somebody doing that. Not

saying somebody did. They

probably did. That's

what's funny, right? What's

funny is right now I'm just being petty for a moment. I


did look up the dry pack and what I find interesting with anybody is, and this is just something we all have to ask ourselves is what, what makes us, I don't know, this, this need to diminish others. You


know what I mean? To

be like, you know, even if it was dry pack, let's just say for a moment of day, it's really nothing more than that. Okay.


when you see these gorgeous things, I was thinking of Vincent Cathcart with this piece of furniture he's doing and he made the base. Man,


it's just, it's really, really cool. Not

trying to pump up Vince, but, you know, when you looked at his lift lines and the way he did them and the colors, it's really pretty. You

know, back to Sir Ho -Raw, the face of a sink and I'm thinking of Kyle Davis, he's doing a lot of cool stuff. Yeah,


Kyle stuff and, you know, that, you know, even, I hate to call it simple, but out front of his home, or I think it was his home. Anyway,

you know, we're to, to put the, you do like a mailbox and a house number plaque. Yeah.


is so cool. It's

so cool. So


where I'm going with it is in a way, it's a bummer. That

anybody then has to come along and then diminish it, I mean, diminishing what people are doing. Yeah.


know, Wade just thinks of that kind of that ombre, kind of a Southwestern vibe, you know, style that he's going with and. Yeah,


Wade Blum. I

don't know. It's,

yeah, Wade, yeah. And

so it's, it's a bummer for anybody to take, that that's the first thing is to take this really cool things that our people were doing. And

then whatever in their hearts and their heads to be like, eh, it's nothing. It's


just this or it's just that. It's

like, seriously, man, I just don't get what I would say to anybody doing that is, were you doing it? Did

you do this before? No.


no. Did

you see anybody else doing it? No.


what are you talking about? Like,

why are you, why are you trying to like throw mud on this? But


here's the deal. Definitely

the argument. Let

me tell you how it's different than anything that, you know, somebody tries to make a correlation to the technique, dry pack concrete. Yeah,

they're taking a dry mix and are packing it in with a rammer, like a pneumatic rammer. Okay.


the placement method is similar. The


aesthetic, we're not, we're not doing this for the placement method. I

don't care about the placement method. That's

Ramcrete isn't about that. The

thing about Ramcrete is the aesthetic and the thinness we can achieve. So

there was a guy, he passed away in California, David Easton, and he was doing Ramdor's panels, but they were a minimum of six inches thick. And


they had to be six inches thick because with just the binder, he was using Portland cement, anything thinner than that, and they would break under their own weight. If

they tried to move them, they would break. And

so they're doing six inch thick panels and are doing these huge things. They'd

use cranes to move them. They

looked really cool. They

looked really cool. But

was it, was it reasonable or feasible for a lot of projects? No,


because it's still the same weight as concrete and you're doing six inch thick, essentially walls that you have to move in and these huge pieces and a symbol. It

just wasn't a feasible or reasonable product to use for that. Where

Ramcrete comes into play is with what we've developed with Kodiak is now we're able to do a rammed earth aesthetic, a very, very authentic rammed earth aesthetic. And


I say that from somebody that's built a lot of real rammed earth. I

mean, that's, I've spent years doing that. And

so I'm not like, we're not doing foe. We're

not taking a sea sponge and dabbing on texture. Painting,

painting lines. Like


a river across something, you know, I remember when people were doing that with acid stain, they do like these rivers across the countertop. It's

nothing like that. So

this is a very authentic, a very real rammed earth aesthetic that we're able to do extremely thin. You

said some people you're talking to are doing three quarters of an inch thick. I


would say one inch to inch and a half is where I would feel comfortable for pieces, but even an inch and a half versus six inches. Are

you serious? That

opens up a massive world of possibilities that were not available before. And

so that's where the advancement is. And

if we talk about what is Ramcrete, Ramcrete is the ability to do this rammed earth aesthetic in very thin sections. And


that has to do with the material development. It

has nothing to do with, oh, I used a rammer. So

I did Ramcrete. Okay,

whatever. Yeah,

yeah. That's

all good. No,

so actually you said three quarters, no, getting down to half inch to five eights. Yes.



bananas. That's

crazy. I

would never, me personally, I wouldn't do that unless it was tile that I'm setting thin set and I'm transferring the load through. That's


getting incredibly thin, but somebody, dude, there was a guy over in Italy, Italy or France. I'm

trying to think of his name. Joseph

Peezley. He

did tile for a jewelry store. I

want to say he sent me a message using Ramcrete, like three quarters of an inch or half inch thick as tile that they sat on the floor. So


yeah, I mean, it's doable. Yeah.


definitely doable. Yeah.


no, it's, it's super cool, man. It's

super cool. I

think the whole idea, and I'm not just saying that because, you know, working with you and bringing this whole thing into a new technique and the ability to create outside of the, you know, whatever 12 inch and 16 inch box, meaning the thickness of the walls. Yeah.



yeah, I think it's super cool. Yeah.


I just had to touch on that for a second. I

just think it's a bummer. Uh,

and, and part of it's just star egos, right? Whoever

us is that the first thing to turn around and then just squash, squash, find some reason in whatever in themselves to just, you know, step on somebody and put it down. It's


just a bummer. You

know, we live in the age of shit posters and trolls online that that's, that's where they get their enjoyment is just diminishing and, um, attacking others. I

mean, it's so many people, not us, but so many people in this world, grown, humans spend their time doing that and read the comment section at the end of any post on, on Facebook or Instagram. And


it's just people battling back and forth, talking trash for what? Who

are you trying to convince? And

what do you get out of this? You

know, yeah, there's a great, there's a great, uh, like a short skit where this guy, I'll send it to you. I've


posted on my, on my, uh, Facebook a few times where this guy's like, that's this whole thing. Is

he like shit talks on online? He

has like five computers set up and he's just jumping back and forth. He's

like, I, you know, he's like, I get my energy from, from pissing other people off, essentially. He


says like, uh, he says like, um, something about like fat, fat people. And

he'd like put like LMFAO laughing my fat ass off. God,

it was so funny. I

did see that. Yeah.


he just, he just kept going. It


was one of those like someone's doing a little documentary about like, yeah, who this person is and why. And

yeah, it was pretty funny. I'll,

I'll post it. I'll

find out, put in the show notes of this, because it's such a funny little like one minute YouTube video. As

long as you're willing to see it as funny, you know, it's funny. Take


it for the humor that it is. And

I almost, not that I get sucked into, to diminishing, but I almost get sucked. Sometimes

I'll read an article and I almost like respond to a comment. Like,

I see somebody make comment. I'm

almost, I'm like, why do I care? I

don't care. I

don't even know who this person is. I

have no idea who this person is. Why


do I even care to respond? I

don't. And

then I stop myself. But

there's that moment, you know, that moment where I just want to say something, but whatever, it doesn't matter. Well,

I think we do that. I

was talking to somebody just the other day and we were, we were talking about mixes, right? And


just discussing mixes and what they're doing and how they're doing it. And

this and that. And

so we got to just a question back and forth about, well, how much water and I said, well, you know, most of us using the Kodiak material, we're using 27%. And


now again, maybe I'm looking too deep in this, but instead of coming back like, oh, hey, yeah, that's great. And

how are you achieving that? No,

the first comment back is like, well, I want to, I typically use a 24. And

I was like, okay, so now it's the, it's the competition of the numbers. You


should, I'm just like, you should keep doing that. Right.


I told you, you are more than willing to, you know, if that's what you want to do, but you find time and time again, working with fine particle mixes or UHPCs, even though I know you read that a lot. I

mean, 18%, I have found time and time again, as soon as we come under a certain water cement ratio, the self desiccation weakens the mix. I


mean, again, come for compression, tensile strength, so on and so on. So,

you know, so we're running 27%. Can

you do 25? Okay.



about 21, John? Sure.


why? I

mean, at that point, there's no reason to do it. Now


it's going to be attacking itself. Now

you're working against what you're trying to do. Right.


know, and I think that's, I had a guy message me on Instagram. And

I think he was being legit nice. Maybe

he's trying to troll me. I

don't know. But


you know, he's like, I think you're the greatest or whatever. And

I'm just like, I'm just like, I appreciate that. Thank

you. You

know, thanks, thanks for saying that. And

kept going, kept going, kept going. And,

and finally, I just responded back to him like, listen, dude, I appreciate all the compliments. Thank


you very much. It's

just concrete. That's

the end of the day. And

I think a lot of times we take what we do too seriously. And

I think we take ourselves too seriously. So

thank you very much. I

wish you the best. If

you ever need any help, let me know, you know, but we, we all are taking it way too seriously. What

are we trying to do? We're


trying to make sinks. We're

trying to make countertops, trying to make tile. Okay.



you're trying to win like a science fair, you know, you like, you want to have a chart and I did a point one eight percent water. Okay.


it. But

if you're doing this for a living, you're trying to make the best products you can for your customers. Let's


focus on that. Let's

focus on that. You

know, what does that mean? Well,

it means different things, different people for us. It

means ease of casting, ease of mixing, surface quality, density, ability to resist daily life, stain, scratches, that kind of thing, color, ability, color, fastness and then color richness. Those


are the things that we're looking for. Maybe

you're looking for something different. And

maybe those aren't in your boxes that you want to check. That's

great. But

that's what we're, you know, that's what we're aiming to do. So

I think as long as we stay focused on what we're trying to do and not getting too stuck into weeds, which people do, you know, I've talked about this many times, but this is my 21st year in business and I have seen in that last 21 years such a massive churn rate in this industry. And


there's two camps. There's

the camps that get into it for the art and they love it. You

know, I love making stuff. Great.


there's the camp that gets into it for the chemistry side. Right.


that's pretty much what it is. There's

there's two division lines. And

the ones that not to say that the chemists don't last, but I'd say for the most part, they're the first to go because they spend so much time tweaking and tweaking and tweaking and focusing on this and focusing on that. They


don't focus on making anything that they want us to buy. They're

confused that people want concrete for concrete. They

think, well, if I have the best concrete, you know, if I'm using a point one, four percent water to cement ratio, then everybody's going to come use my product. Yeah,


they don't care. The

customer doesn't care. The

customer's going to look like, oh, look at this. Oh,

look how beautiful this is. That's

what they care about. Oh,

look how amazing this planter is or how amazing this fire pit is. That's

what they're buying. Now,

from our viewpoint, we want to use the best products we can for several reasons because it makes better business sense because we have less breakage rates because we don't have callbacks from customers. Because


we have a lot less time in making the pieces because we're not slurring and polishing all those reasons. But

the thing is people need to make things people want to buy. So

there's that camp. And

so they come up, they spend six months, eight months, 12 months, just constantly tweaking and talking and geeking out. And

then they go to business because they didn't sell anything and they could only go until their savings right now. Then


there's the other camp where it's the art camp. And

we've seen a lot of these guys and I would say they have a longer lifespan, but they still a lot of times fall out because they sometimes miss the picture that materials matter, not that the customer cares, but as a business owner, it matters to us. And


so then these are the guys are like, I make my mix from home depot ingredients. I

can make a UHPC from Lowe's. No,

you can't. You

can't. And

if you think you can, you're lying to yourself, but they get so consumed into making their art that they miss the bigger picture of the materials matter for running a successful business. Yeah,


I see that one a lot. That

was actually, I think I told you there was a, again, going back to some of the forums, there was a very nice post with some like, you know, who's still or who is or who can make their own mixes. And

I don't need, again, probably again, one of those posts, none, none derogatory, but a lot of posts came in like, Hey, I do it or I don't do it. Or


here's the advantages of not doing it. This,

et cetera, et cetera. And

there were some interesting things that I saw on that post. One

specifically, and I'll heck of knock off quite a few. One

specifically was an individual who was, he would love to use more pre -blended things, but his hangup was $18 a bag wherever he lives. The


shipping ended up about $18 a bag. And

I actually wrote a post because I think for some time I was in that camp too, meaning again, I was getting hung up on the wrong things. And

that became very clear to me when, again, I'm just going to put it in kind of a standard, my kind of standard vanities anymore, usually anywhere between four and five feet, you know what I mean? Single


bowl, upright cast, back splash. And

with doing that, they typically using about 150 pounds of dry materials or in this case, three bags, right? Me

to make that, I'm charging clients of $2 ,400 and then a fee, you know, if you want to deliver, dropped off, whatever the case may be. So


let's just focus on the $2 ,400. So

for me, making simple numbers, you know, that 50, what is that? $54.


$54 in shipping. Comparing

that to, for me, for me to get good, clean sands, I have to order those in anyway. And


the time and energy to do that, the storage in my shop, the federal white cement, I need to drive now, it's two and a half hours one way. So

again, I'm going to lose a day's labor. Again,

picking it up, bringing it back, unloading it out of my truck, setting it up, and you only buy enough quantities so that it doesn't go bad, right? So


I typically buy, you know, about four months or I was buying about four months and then, but when you add that up and again, I'm not even talking batching, I'm just talking that raw materials to bring into my shop. That

$54 is a complete moot point. I


mean, the day it took me to go pick it up, I could have been going trap shooting with my son or, you know, whatever that afternoon or working out or instead, I, you know, spent five hours and you spend five hours because you stopped me at something to eat and et cetera. So,

you know, I spent in a day in my truck. But


what was the fuel cost? You

know, was aware and tearing your vehicle. You

spent more than that just in fuel and oil changes and tires. Driving

that five hours, then just paint it. People

do miss the bigger picture on the freight and I get it. I

get it. We

were so used to the Amazon mindset of free shipping that when you see a freight charge, this person, I guess it was 900 bucks for a pallet approximately. When


you see that and you're like, well, $18, there's no way. Well,

what is that per square foot? You

know, it's a little more than four bucks a square foot. Yeah.


a normal sink is going to be, you know, maybe 10 square feet, 12 square feet. So

what is that? Thirty,

six, 40 bucks. A


countertop might be 60 square feet if it's big, although we were talking to somebody recently who does a ton of kitchen. He

said he went back through the last couple of years and his average is 30 to 35 square feet for a kitchen. That's

what he's averaging. Let's

say 30 square feet. Um,

that's 120 bucks. So


120 bucks to have something that you don't have to batch. You

don't have to go get the materials. You

don't have to go through all that stuff for 120 bucks. So

if you save yourself eight hours of time and let's say the eight hours is everything of getting the materials of batching all that stuff, phone calls, deliveries, meeting up with LTL, cutting the bags open, weighing out sands, weighing out Portland, weighing out this, weighing out that. Okay.



you save yourself eight hours for 120 bucks. What

does that per hour? Right.


does that per hour, John? 15

bucks an hour. I'm

just 15. Yeah.


your time worth more than 15 bucks an hour? I

think they pay 15 bucks an hour McDonald's. So

you're paying yourself McDonald's wages to save that. That's


what you're paying yourself as a business owner that has much bigger things to focus on than 15 bucks an hour. That's,

that's the point. I

think when we have this conversation of people, that's what they're, they're not doing the math. They're

just making a emotional response to a freight charge without actually doing the numbers. If


you do the numbers, you said, well, damn, I'm, you know, I'm essentially saving myself 15 bucks an hour by doing that. I

feel like screw the 15 bucks an hour brother, screw the 120 bucks. I'll

add that to the cost. I'll

add it to the cost of the project. If

I'm charging for that kitchen, let's say I'm charging 6 ,000 bucks with 6 ,200 change their mind. No,


they wouldn't care. And

now you just built that freight charge into it. So

the customer, you're not even paying for the freight. The

customer's paying for it and the customer doesn't care because the customer would pay 6 ,000, I'll pay 6 ,200 to them. It's

no different. They

want a concrete countertop that you're going to make for them. Well,

see, this is where being you and I doing this long enough and probably a lot of people listening who are in the same boat to realize that, you know, 54, let's say, say $60 in shipping is like, no, that's of no concern to me. Then


I'm willing to switch it the other way and say, this is where we're having the wrong conversation. So

for me, I'm using my comparison value of a $2 ,400 vanity, but maybe if whoever was doing this, like, well, you know, I do a vanity like that for 600 bucks. So


for me, you know, $60 is a pretty good chunk of my 600 bucks. And

with that, I agree, which then I come full circle to see we're having the wrong conversation. The

wrong conversation is not a discussion on the $60 because one way or another, you know, you're going to be paying that 60 bucks. Meaning


it's going to either be on your time away from home or as we said, going to pick up materials, you know, putting the stuff together. One

way or another, you're spending that $60. So

I guess that's where I get lost. So


the real conversation is your $600. That's

not viable. Meaning

you can't, I can't, again, even giving away your time, which nobody should do that since, you know, as we know, walking on this crust of the earth, which almost ended here a few days at the eclipse. I


didn't realize that. It

was so close. It

was so close. Right.


idea. You

know, I mean, those moments mean something and that's, so you got to figure out how to get out of that $600 price range, $800, $1 ,200. I


mean, whatever price range you're in that makes that a difficult conversation. So

instead of having that conversation revolve around a $60 freight charge, and instead it's about giving away your moments and your breasts in this life. That's


where that's the real conversation that needs to take place and how to fix that, how to set the strategies to get your business and into a viable direction so that that becomes the same move point that the rest of us have found the necessity. Because


again, we've all been there. I've

been there. And

again, we've talked about this is, you know, we probably kicked this horse how many times, but I've been there. I've

definitely been there. And

which each step it felt like a daunting, I'm not going to be in business if I add another 20 bucks a square foot or add another $500. Or


I mean, I can even tell you if we had my brother and Billy here, you know, walk way back when there was literally a time we didn't charge for deliveries. Yeah.


didn't charge for it because I was like, oh, well, you do like, then you're like, wait a minute, man. By


the time we add this up, the day it took us to get this done and we didn't pay ourselves. Okay,

that's that's not making any sense. That's

not so. So

again, if a project got turned down because of that, then I say say la vie anymore. Done.



we're good. I'm

good. I

don't I'm not giving away my time. I

can't do it. Well,

it comes down to believing in yourself. I

think of Dusty Baker. Dusty,

when I met Dusty, he was slowly going out of business because he wasn't charging a price to be profitable. He


was charging a price that he felt he needed to be at to get business and he was marketing. He

was selling to the wrong people. He

was selling to essentially tract home builders, people that were looking for the lowest cost option to put in their houses. And

that's who he'd built his clientele with. And


when I met him, you know, I've told the story before, but Dusty's like, hey, man, I'll kiss your ass if you get $100 a square foot where I'm at. And

I'm like, bro, you're in Nashville, Tennessee. There's

people with private jets. There's

people with helipads in their backyard. You

can easily get 100 bucks a square foot because at that point in California, people are already like Foo Tong Chang. This


is back, you know, again, like 15 years ago that I had this conversation with Dusty. But

Foo Tong Chang back then was like 300 a square foot, 400 a square foot back. Oh,

yeah, it was a premium. Yeah.


back then. So

I told Dusty, you know, there's people, there's tons of people where you're at. You're

living in a gold mine. You


just don't, you don't know it because you're not talking to those people. You're

talking to the wrong people. So

anyways, what Dusty did and anybody talks to Dusty, you know, have this conversation with them because it's to me very inspiring. Dusty

just said, fine, and he raised his price. And

the clients he had initially, there was a lot of pushback and they, you know, they call him up and he's like, you know, I did your, did your quote and you know, it's going to be this or like, well, it's double than it was last time. I


was like, I know, man, I was losing money. I

did the numbers and they're like, well, we're going to do something else. And

he's freaking out for a minute because he wasn't getting any projects because of people that he'd done to work for their super price aware. And

so they were pushing back, but then somebody comes along, he gives them the price, the new price, you know, the price needs to be at and they're like, okay, yeah, let's do it. Great.



does it. He

made some money on it. Another

client comes along, he gives them price. They

say, okay, let's do it. Dude,

Dusty today, if anybody's ever gone to a ho -down in the holler, Dusty's place is, in my opinion, the coolest property, the coolest shop of anybody in this industry. He


lives in heaven, in my opinion. It

is a beautiful piece of property. He

has a beautiful house. He

has a beautiful shop that he built, glass floor, up doors, fully HVAC'd, a full bar. When

I say a full bar, it's like you're walked into a Nashville hip bar when you go into Dusty's shop. There's


a full bar, bar stools, flat screens. It

is amazing. And

he's done that by charging a price where he was profitable. That's

how he did it. He

didn't do it by going backwards, but he did it by believing in himself and starting to charge the prices and the charge, but he had to do it for himself. So


all these people that are selling at 600 bucks for a sink, that kind of thing, you're going to have to just make that choice within yourself. Nobody's

going to do it for you. Nobody's

going to say, hey, man, I like to sink, but I think you're under charging me. I

really think this should be a $3 ,000 sink. You're

not going to say that. So


you're going to have to believe in yourself and charge the pricing to charge. And

yes, you're going to get less business, but the business you do get, you actually make money on it. You're

going to lose money and that's far better than going the wrong way. I

talk about this forum. I

follow on Facebook. I

just like being a fly -in -wall on this forum. It's


this concrete group that they should change the name to what should I charge? Because

literally every post is what should I charge for this? I'm

doing a sidewalk. I'm

doing a patio. I'm

doing a pull deck, whatever. What

should I charge? And

the answers run the gamut, right? The

answers run from $5 a square foot to 500 square foot, whatever. I


mean, it's all over the place and none of the answers are the right answer because nobody knows what this guy's expenses are. So

is he profitable or not? Nobody

knows. But

one of the common tropes I hear is, it's better to do it at a loss and at least stay busy than then not do anything, right? And


that might be true if you're doing it for the exposure. And

I get doing that early in your career. You

do some projects at break even or even for a loss because you need the photographer. You

need something to show customers. But

you can't run a business going the wrong direction. Nobody


can do it. You

just can't do it. If

you're losing money on projects, you're not going to be in business for long. And

so my opinion is, or my advice anybody is, do your numbers, crunch your numbers. Where

do you need to be minimum square foot to even break even? Then


add to that, add 30 % add 50 % to that number. And

that's the number you need to start at. Here's

my base price is going to be this per square foot. And

the client says, yes, great, you're profitable. The

client says, I need to be here. You

know, if you do it at that, you're going to lose money. And


you can feel good and saying, I'm sorry, I can't do it. This

is my price. Yeah,

I agree with you 100%, man. And

it's a risky road to ourselves. That's

our, that's the hardest thing is getting in ourselves. First

of all, figuring it out, figuring out the realities of running this business and the realities of what you can do. And


for that, I'm going to say it's up to everybody as an individual. You

can pick a number a day, you can add your overhead costs. I

mean, mathematically, I mean, but all of us have to do that. And

I know again, we've talked about this how many times, but I know it took me a long time before I actually did it. I


listened to other things. Well,

I heard so -and -so. It's

80 bucks a square foot. Well,

I'm going to do 80 bucks a square foot. And

then you feel like, hold me. Hey,

man, you know, lease is due again this month. Well,

how come I'm short on lease? Like,

wait a minute. This

is like, and I had to get some material. Anyway,


so you got to find those numbers out and then have a brew of confidence in yourself to charge it. And

I know you mentioned Dusty and we've mentioned some other names along the path, but along that path, I fully believe one of the main things that's helped me gain confidence, even in myself back then, is constantly working hard to put out the best product I felt was possible. Which


led me down like again, so I mean, obviously I could run to Lowe's and get Sakri. Well,

I knew that wasn't, you know, I'm not going to be taking seriously. And

my analogy to this, and I know I've talked about this was doing reseals. As

an example, I did my first reseal. I


only charged what I could charge because I was, you know, still using my DeWalt sander, right? It

was duct tape to a hose hooked to my, you know, shop vac and et cetera, et cetera. And

you know, come on, man, reality is I didn't walk in there like a professional, right? It's


like hiring a plumber to do something and, you know, he shows up in his Honda Civic and has to borrow your tools. You

know what I mean? You

got to get to a point when that confidence grows that you're actually using quality materials. So


then I bought a, you know, Bati, that was my first Festool Rotex sander, like, whoa, but, you know, it's a $700 sander. And

then the vacuum and the whole thing. And

before you know it, you know, you're 2000 plus deep and just tooling to go in there and do a job. So


I'm not going to charge 15 bucks an hour. That's

not professional. And

then the same thing goes to my countertops, you know, I bring in the mess, in my opinion, materials that are available to give me the quality, the perception of quality that a client's going to pay my price for, you know, like we said before, it's the Rolex versus Timex. They


both tell the same time. And

but there's a perception with that Rolex, it's not going to come with the Timex. And

that's just the way it is. I

agree, John Shuler. I

agree. We,

we had this conversation before I left to go down to, uh, to Oklahoma. There


was some comment, um, I don't know if it's on Facebook or Instagram, you're telling me about where somebody was essentially saying that they were happy with sat Какreate or whatever, you know, basic mix they have. It

was good enough. And


we were talking about that. And

I just said, you know, that's not our customer. That's

not a person that would use our products because good enough is good enough for them. They

don't aspire to do great. Good

enough is good enough for them. And

that's fine. There's

definitely a lot of businesses out there. I


see these guys making cornhole boards with rebar and welded mesh and they're using quick crete. They're

selling them. You're

profitable. You

should keep doing it. But,

um, I was down at San Luis Obispo this last week, taking my daughter around to some of the schools that she got accepted to. And


my son and I walked over to a outdoor ping pong table there at San Luis. And

I don't know who made it. I

mean, here's what I thought. I'm

thinking like, good God, who brought these things in here? Because

they were a good four inches thick. The


table itself had to be, or not had to be, I guess, but was split in two pieces, right? I'm

guessing partially due to weight and these very massive bases that they sat on. From

a distance, it really looked cool. It

was a cool looking thing. But


once you got up to it, where the net, which was, I believe it was metal, that's kind of went through, you know, went through the two piece crack. And

it was no longer flat anymore. I

can't imagine this table taking a lot of abuse, but it was chipped up, you know, was already getting weathered. I


don't know how long it's been out there or anything. But

that's, that's what I'm talking about. I

looked at that table and I thought, wow, you know, for an exterior concrete, I guess I would like, I would less like to see this more durable. You


know what I mean? But

here's, here's, here's the part of that, that you and I miss. Is

some company sold that to St. Louis

Abyssal for probably 15 ,000 a table. And

they sold probably 10 of them out there, right? And

they used the cheapest mix they could get and, and they turned to profit. So


I can't, I can't say that what you're doing is wrong. But

what I'm saying is there's levels and you were likeness to sports like a Tiger Woods or something. What

makes Tiger Woods, Tiger Woods? Well,

Tiger Woods is willing to put in the extra hours to be great where a good golf player just says, I'm good enough. I'll


stop right here. Right?


he's just going to be out there just nonstop, perfecting, perfecting, perfecting. And

that's true in every industry. It

doesn't matter if it's woodworking, metalworking, whatever it is in concrete is true. And

so there's levels and there's people that are, our customers, our buyers, because they understand that and they aspire to make the best they can. They


aspire to be the best craftsman they can, they can be, they aspire to use the best products they can use. Yeah,

richness of color, you know, everything that we've talked about. But

then there's people that good enough is good enough. Sure.


know, there was a saying that I heard a long time ago, good enough is the enemy of great. And


that really is when people say, ah, it's good enough. They

just, they stop right there. They

don't, they don't put in that extra 15 or 20 % to take it all the way, you know, because for them it's fine. And

I'm guilty of that. You

know, I'll be doing a home improvement project and I'm doing drywall or whatever. I'm


like, ah, it's good enough. It's

good enough. I

can make it great. But

I'm just going to call it right here. But

when it comes to my business, when it comes to my clientele, when it comes to the products I produce, I aspire for the greatest I can make. Well,

because you want to command a price, not demand it. Well,


yes. I

think people, so I'm making a couple of different erosion sinks right now in the back of the shop, but I'm making one for a friend and he contacted me and I posted a little video and I'll post it. I'll

add it to this as well, to the show notes. I

posted a little video of porno rubber mold to make an erosion sink. And


my process for the erosion sink has morphed now over the last 16, 17 years. It's

morphed, but in the beginning I would make a form and cast a sink, but it was never 100 % the sink itself, right? I


demolded and there's things I didn't like about it, but I was like, I got to make a profit. You

know, I can't do this thing twice, but now I do plan to do it twice. And

now I make, I make the mold, I cast a sink, and then I take the sink out and I refine it. I

refine the sink further and I do that with grinding and Bondo and all these things to get it exactly the way I want. Then


I seal it, then I pour a rubber and then I do it again. I

pour a sink again and that time I have a perfect sink. Every

detail of it is exactly to my liking. There's

not one thing I don't like about it, right? But

by doing that, I'm doing a sink twice. So

anyways, my point is, I had a friend contact me and I like the guy and I've made pieces for him. I


made pieces for his family, made pieces for his friends. He's

been, he's been a very good customer, but he wanted a sink for his lake house that he's building of the bay they live on where they're building this cabin. And

it's a small sink. It's

like five feet. And

I did the math and it's $9 ,000 to do the sink at the price point to do the way I need to do it, to go through all the steps I need to go through to be profitable. And


I said it to him. He's

like, wow, he's like, well, that's more than we're expecting, but he's like, I love your craftsmanship. He's

like, so yeah, let's do it, right? So

there's clients that get it. I

don't do this to command the price. The

price is the price I need to be to be profitable on the project, but I aspire to do the best I can. I'm


not happy with good enough. The

erosion sinks I made 10 years ago were good enough. I

would send them out, but they weren't 100%. They're

like 98%. But

there's things I wish were just a little bit more refined, right? So

now I do everything I can in my business to do the best I can. And


the price is reflective of that. It's

not that I do the best I can so I can charge the highest price. I

do the best I can because that's what I want to do. And

the price is reflective of the work that's sent out, I guess is the way it's semantics. Some

people say, well, I want to do the best just so I can make the most money. No,


no, no, I want to do the best because that's what I'm driven to do. The

price is the price for that product. This

is where we can come full circle back to the beginning as the people who do to finish. And

this is the one I was telling you. I

think he's a coach. I

don't know where he coached, to be honest with you. But


he was actually quoting somebody. And

you can find it on YouTube. It's

called like the five choices of growth, right? Nick

Saban. You

can be bad and you could be mediocre and you could be good. And

those are three choices. And

the other two is you can be elite or something like that. But


he continues to talk about how to be at the top two and get up to be elite. You

have to put in extra work. You

have to work and you extra drive and so forth and so on. And


that's what separates. I

don't care what we're talking about business, personal life, etc, etc. It's

not in everybody. I

get it. This

is something I'm trying to teach to my son right now, not saying he's lazy or anything, but just the idea, man. If


you, going back to what we just talked about for business and the $54 in shipping, if you aspire to run a business where that $54 doesn't mean the deal breaker to bring in quality materials that saves your time, does all the things that other people are doing, including us. That's


why we talk about it. Well,

then at the same time, you may want to step up your efforts so that your pricing can come along with it. You

know what I mean? And

maybe practice a little more. Or

like you just said, you're doing the form twice to make it more so that you keep at the elite level that you want to see your products at. I


want to live with no, no, no, no, no, no, it's a hard thing, man. And

then, and again, not love circling back to that, like making my own mix. This

is the thing I find interesting is the individuals or let's say the businesses that still continue, I'm going to call it the charade of making your own mix. Now


again, I'm going to put a caveat in here before, you know, sometimes I always feel like I defend myself. Like,

look, you know, those doing terrazzo or doing specific looks that take specific aggregates, you know, whatever the case may be, I totally understand. And


that is a bullet that just has to be taken and charged for, for making certain things that need certain materials. I

completely understand that. But

on a daily basis, the only people that I or businesses, whatever we want to call them, that you look at and I still see, you know, pumping the benefits of making your own mix are number one. Those


people not doing it. Yeah.


and that's a hard truth, but it is what it is. Those

people not doing it. Those

people teaching, but haven't ran the business, those people selling the materials, but not using the materials, or certainly not using them often enough, maybe they do, you know, I don't know, they do demos, but they don't do client projects. Yeah,


they don't do clients. So

it's just, it's a tough sell, or maybe not. It's

just tough for me to look out and see this continue only because having been on that in myself and then seeing where I'm at today, and what I'm able to achieve with the time and effort that I put in, you know, it's, it's, I guess what I'm saying, it bugs me. It


legitimately bugs me to see this is still the information that's persuaded to people. And

it's the information persuaded for people for people who have absolute lack of experience doing it, but give the perception of it. And


it's hard because I see so many of them, and I talk to many of them that are still struggling and I'm like, well, you know, what are you struggling? Well,

I'm using this and I'm using this. And

I'm like, okay, well, not to be a, where'd you get that information from that this is the best way to do it? Oh,

well, so and so. Okay.



you're trying to make a business. Yeah,

man. And

I'm trying to, you know, I listen to you guys and I'm trying to get my prices up there. Okay.


without, you know, putting down this other person, because I don't ever want to do that, what makes their information legit to you? And


that's typically where we get kind of, well, well, they wrote a paper about it. Okay.


have they done it? Oh,

okay. Well,

I just, you know, I just wrote a paper about broken era, broken era, Oklahoma. Because


you heard from somebody that went there. Exactly.


you know, so am I now the go to source for broken era, Oklahoma, and I've never been there. Yeah,

I say luckily, I think that information is about to go by the wayside. But

I think the other issue, and we've talked about this so many times is salesmen that front themselves as experts, but they don't actually do this for a living. So


I think that's the bigger problem is there's people out there selling products, they have a best interest on their products. They're

gonna understand that they're gonna pontificate of like, well, the way I've always done it is you don't do it. You

don't do it. So

that doesn't mean anything. But


there's a lot of that. And

unfortunately, people get sucked into it. And

they get sucked into it for a few reasons because a lot of these companies will use similar acronyms. We're

doing a UHPC. No,

you're not, but whatever. Yeah,

doesn't matter. But

they'll say to people because my friend went to World of Concrete this year, and went to these different booths and said, Hey, I was just compared to Kodiak. And


the answer he got from every one of these other concrete materials companies out there was like, Well, they all do the same thing. They

do the same thing. They're

all that, you know, they're proud. And

I hold on, John, I appreciate that that they say our product is good. They're,

you know, their product is good. Our

product is good. At

the end of the day, they all do the same thing. Yeah,


but I'll say, how would they know it's good? But

my point is they try to create a false equivalency here. They

try to create this perception that if they're all the same, why pay more? You

know, yeah, if they're all the same, we sell a product does the same thing. But


for, you know, 25 % less, save that 25 % and take your wife out to a nice steak dinner. You

know, ticker to sizzler, go to Red Lobster, you know, whatever these salesmen say, I don't know. But

that's the equivalency to try to create. And

so people that don't know, and I don't blame anybody because you're new to this industry, you don't know who's who, you don't know who knows what, you don't know who doesn't know. And


so you're new, you're talking to somebody that, you know, presents himself as an expert, they put up 1000 YouTube videos, and they say, Well, the way I've always done it, you're like, Yeah, that guy sounds like he knows who's talking about, I'm going to do it. And

they lead you down a path. And

then a year later, you end up at us, and you're like, Why am I struggling? You


know, why can't I do the things that you guys talk about that I see you guys doing that you guys, you know, photos you post, why am I having all these problems? Why

my piece is breaking? Why

are they cracking? Why

have these air pockets? Why

are everything, why is everything staining? Why

is the sealer peeling off? Why

am I struggling so bad? And

the reason I'm struggling so bad is they started off getting information from somebody that didn't do this for a living. They


ended up here's what's good. Well,

they just ended up taking the path of price because the false equivalency created by salesmen. So,

well, if they do the same thing, like this person says, and this one's cheaper, why wouldn't I use that? Well,

that's a good question. Why,

why, why would I spend more to do the same thing? You


know, and that's that's the sales point. And

then another thing is they fall for the, the perceived experience because of the language they use. Well,

the way I used to do it when I ran my company was this. Yeah,

a lot of wheeze. Well,

here's what I find interesting about that is because, and you know me, man, I usually point any conversation into something. So


if we had this same conversation, and I've had it many times, and I'm just going to pull up something like Etsy, right? And

let's say, you know, so and so is deciding, hey, I want to open an Etsy account and I'm going to sell something. And

I go, okay, we'll go check it out. And


you'll find, so again, let's just say vessel sinks. And

I know I've talked about this before, I'll find vessel sinks on there or anything from like, you know, $50, $100, $500, $200, $400. And

you're like, but where do you need to be? Well,

you know, for me to make this viable, what I'm doing, I need to present my more around 800 to $1 ,000. And


like, oh, I get it. Now,

when we have that conversation with somebody else, and again, related to guys in concrete, they'll roll their eyes and be like, well, you know, I know why that one's 200 bucks, you know, but that same philosophy, sometimes people struggle to put the philosophy of their understanding of the quality of concrete and something they're willing to stand behind and understand, quote unquote, crap concrete from a really high end product that they're trying to make. But


they struggle with that same philosophy when it comes to materials, you know what I mean? And

they get caught up in the same thing. So

and if you said, hey, you were selling this customer for your $1 ,000 versus the $200, how do you explain to them? Because


I'm sure that $200 holds water, does it? I

mean, I don't know. And

so it's tough for all of us sometimes, again, as I've said before, to get out of our own way. And

if you can look at other projects and realize the difference between low quality and high quality, then at the same time, you know, don't get lost in this conversation when it comes to materials, you know, the higher quality materials versus, and again, yes, the add water, they're all going to get hard. I


can appreciate that, or they should get hard. But

there is a legitimate difference and don't get hung up in the noise. The

difference between five bucks a bag or $18 in shipping or and as I actually said in that that was the post. And


let's say, how would I say it? You

know, I don't know, verify where the information is coming from. And

that's not me to say any information is bad, or as I just said, any products are bad. But

you know, there's due diligence on our own part is to look back and say, you know, where is this information coming from? And


as the person who's relaying this information, you know, walked in or is walking in my shoes? Well,

I think the other thing that we try to convey to people is do the math on an actual project, not on the totality of the order. Meaning


when you're looking at it, you're like, well, it's $900 in freight, and I can get it from this guy closer, and it's going to be $600 in freight. So

I'm saving $300. Okay.


you know, you guys are charging this much per bag, but he's $5 plus a bag. So

that's $250 plus a 300 says 550 I'll save. Okay.



says we're 50 bags. So

let's say $11 a bag, you're saving by going that route with cheaper freight and cheaper, cheaper mix. Okay,

what's your average? What's

your average project? Well,

I make a lot of sinks. Okay,

what do you use three bags per sink? Yeah.


you're saving $33. Yeah.




that $33 going to make you not profitable? Well,

are you going to spend extra time? Swerving,

polishing, all the things that you have to do to make that the same as this? Was

that worth the $33? Well,

okay, so you haven't done the math on a real project, you're just looking at the bottom line number. But


there's very few projects, you're going to use an entire power to mix. And

if you are doing a project using an entire power to mix, that's probably a $20 or $30 ,000 project minimum, right? So

again, that $550 on a $30 ,000 project, and it saves you at that point, because it's such a big project, a week or two of your time in not having to slurry and polish and do all the things, was it worth $550? Yeah,


you're damn right at this. But

I think this is the math that most people miss, is they're not doing the math on their average project size and what the actual cost is. And

that's part of business. And

I think that's the, that is a difficult thing, as you just said, the two people, you know, chemists and artists. That's


the difficult thing to balance business mentality, you know, being counting, if you will, without being obsessive about it. And,

you know, finding the balance between actual business, actual profit, which to me, profit is, you know, anything above that, things that I get to use to, you know, feed my family. It's


a tough, it's tough to find that balance and not get hung up on the minutiae, you know, or what I call the noise. Speaking

of minutiae, this conversation has gone on quite a bit. Before

we end this, John, because we've talked for an hour here, we have the Concrete Heroes Quest coming up, we first through third. So


it is nearly sold out, but we had not a cancellation, but Jeff Jones and his wife, and I love Jeff, him and his wife have been to numerous workshops and the Heroes Quest, I believe, they had to move to the fabric forming class or the furniture class. I


don't know which one they moved to because they had a scheduling conflict. So

they were scheduled to come to that, but they're having to move. So

two seats opened up for the Heroes Quest. The

Heroes Quest is an advanced mold making class, and it's a Ramcrete class. So

where we started this conversation with Ramcrete, if you want to learn how to do Ramcrete, come to this class. May


1st or 3rd in Napa, California, go to concretedesignschool .com. You

can read about this workshop, but register now because it's going to sell out, and you need to register now so you can book your travel arrangements sooner than later. The

next class we have coming up is a fabric forming Concrete Sync and GFRC workshop here in Goddard, Kansas, June 21st or 23rd. We


have a furniture design workshop, August 16th through 18th in Goddard, Kansas, and we have a basic slash fundamentals workshop, September 28th and 29th here in Goddard, Kansas. I'm

not going to bore you with all the specifics, just go to concretedesignschool .com and you can read about that. Anything


to add, John? Nope.




it's good. I'm

going to go, man. Yeah,

it's good to do a podcast in a few weeks. And

let's do it again next week, huh? Is

there anything else I'm waiting for? Is

it any more end of days things coming along or was that it? Well,


I mean, oh, I hit the microphone. You

and they did this in the past and people think we jumped timelines because of all the Mandala effect things that have happened, Fruit of the Loom and, you know, Berenstain Bears and, I don't know what I'm thinking of, Sinbad as a genie, like all these different things that people believe we jumped timelines. So


they started that up yesterday, this certain Hedron collider. And

so people think maybe we jumped timelines, but I guess we won't know that for a while. Like,

would anybody notice? Probably

not. So

if we did jump timelines, you know, I guess we'll find out in the coming years what's changed. Right


on, man. It's

always something. It

is. All

right, my friend. Adios.



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