Located in Colorado Springs, Colo., 68 miles south of Denver, Western Hardscape Supply runs the gamut from hardcore contract supply firm and warehouse to customer-friendly showroom. “We strive to provide a relaxed atmosphere that will help every visitor feel equally important whether they are a professional or just starting out,” stresses Keith Davenport, owner and president of WHS. “Our goal is to provide a place where decorative concrete contractors, homeowners, designers, architects and builders can come to view the various styles and discuss the possibilities.”
Davenport believes in education. Most concrete retailers charge a hefty sum for decorative concrete classes, but he thinks offering free classes promotes product knowledge and product knowledge perpetuates sales. “We do this for our contractors and their employees to help improve the quality and variety of work offered as well as add new income potential.” They will teach anyone willing to learn, he notes, including DIYers.
And WHS’s free classes are no small deal. The most recent class came about after the construction of a vertical stamped wall, which covers the office area of the expansive WHS showroom. It had remained unstained for nearly a year, during which Davenport’s customers kept asking about it.
The vertical concrete surface comprises a vast sampling of stamped brick, stacked stone, cornerstone, stone, tree bark, and barn siding textures, all from the SS Vertical system made by Cimarron Wholesale.
SS DYE-namic acetone dye, also from Cimarron, was used for the staining process. SS DYE-namic installs in one third of the time required for reactive or water-based stains and does not require neutralizing or extensive cleanup before sealing. The whole process is straightforward and a real time-saver for the contractor, which is one of the main reasons Davenport felt it would be a great class to teach.
“If at all possible, try and get manufacturer reps to help out or even teach your class,” he advises. “The contractors really appreciate the extra effort and enjoy getting their questions answered by pros.”
A two-day countertop class is hands-on training that includes both studio-cast and cast-in-place techniques, and it features the enCOUNTER system. Class sizes are limited for this how-to event so individual attention can be maxed. Davenport also makes a point of stressing that there is no sale pressure during the class, wanting to ensure the students can focus all of their energy on learning.
Another free class, on the One Day Floor system, teaches the importance of floor forensics and surface preparation and provides methods and techniques. Though this class is offered to anyone, WHS offers a certification option for a fee and will only permit certified installers to have access to the One Day Floor product. Certification also permits special discounts on equipment and product.
In the future, Keith Davenport hopes to feature green products in his class offerings, promoting them to professional contractors who may be less inclined to switch to greener products until they are tested and proven in a classroom setting. Time will dictate this lesson plan as the decorative concrete industry continues to evolve.