StoneMakers Blog

11 New Dealers Are Taught The Stonemakers System Of Hardscapes

After four days of  hard work, learning and a whole lot of fun, Stonemakers wrapped up the first new dealer training of the year on January 21, 2011, in Orlando, FL.  Lead by David Montoya, founder and president, 11 new dealers were trained and licensed to install retaining walls and hardscape features using the Stonemakers system for stacking and carving concrete.  Here are the new dealers that were in attendance:

o    Mike Gates, Preferred Landscape Inc., Cedar Springs, MI  
o    Brad Matthews, Lasting Impressions Decorative Concrete, Conway,AR    
o    Chris Wolfe, Nostalgic Stone, Denver, CO   
o    John Giusto, Giusto Landscaping LLC, Byfield, MA   
o    Chuck Bryson, A & C Concrete LLC, Mechanicsville, MD  
o    Charlie    Allen, New Life Nurseries, Inc., Melbourne, FL    
o    Micheal Jones, MJMJ Enterprises DBA Artscapes, Gurley, AL  
o    Steve Thoms, Thoms Bros. Landscaping, Rochester, MI  
o    Jim Ayers, Ayers Drywall, Insulation & Supply, Inc., Lincoln, AR   
o    Matt Otero, Designs By Stonescapes, Commerce City, CO    www.designsbystonescapes.com
o    Brent Montry, Tri state Basement Repair, Richland Center, WI   

Here's a look at the project:

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Topics: outdoor living area, concrete retaining wall, water features, patios

How Stonemakers Concrete Innovations Saved A Hospital $700,000

St Anthony's Regional Hospital in Carroll, Iowa was faced with a dilemma.  The engineered block retaining wall was built in 1996, and originally took two and a half months to complete. The Hospital wanted to replace the wall as there were issues starting to develop and the aesthetics were not up to standard any longer. The hospital had received bids from $1.1mm to $1.25 mm to tear out and replace the existing wall. The contractors that were bidding estimated a time of completion of 3 months.

What could be done with StoneMakers concrete innovations?   StoneMakers solution was to install reinforced steel concrete wall in front of the existing wall.

StoneMakers started by installing #5 rebar grid in front of the existing walls. StoneMakers then installed 6 strategically placed “dead men (retaining wall anchors)" at key points throughout the wall. Each “dead man” was 4’ wide x 15’ deep, 8’ high. These were all completed with the same #5 bar as the main wall. The “dead men” were then tied back into the main wall for anchoring support. Shot-Crete with StoneMakers Wall Builder was then used to build a 12”to 14” thick wall in place through the grid. At that point, the Stonemakers crew began carving the concrete to look like other walls that were already on campus. With a crew of 8 men StoneMakers poured 530 yards of concrete over the course of 4 days. On the 5th day they colored and sealed the wall. All this for a cost of $378,000.00

There were four major benefits to having StoneMakers install the new wall:

1.    Cost. The hospital saved over $700,000 on the cost of the project over the lowest bidder.

2.    Time Frame. In an eight day period the entire project was completed. This is opposed to the original estimate of 3 months.

3.    Minimal Impact On Employees And Visitors.  The eight day project was completed will little or no disruption to the roadway and parking lot above the wall that employees and visitors had to use.

4.    Structural Integrity.  By having StoneMakers pour in place a steel reinforced concrete wall with six “dead man” (4’x15’x8’), gives the hospital a wall with a cured strengthof 6-8000 psi that a block wall could never achieve.

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Topics: Stonemakers, concrete retaining wall, commercial conrete project

12 Secrets for Hardscape Contractors Success At Home Shows And Fairs

Home shows and fairs are a trade staple for contractors that build retaining walls, outdoor living areas and hardscapes looking to develop new leads for their business.  I've heard contractors say they get 60-70% of their annual business from shows, while others claim it's a waste of time and money.  What are the successful contractors doing differently?  Here's a list of 12 ideas to make your next show a success.

1.    Have a visual presentation playing, like a video or power point show.  With video cameras and editing software available for under $100, you don't have to be a professional videographer to put together a presentation showcasing your work.  A 5-6 minute video loop is enough to engage attendees and allow you speak about what you do.
2.    Have an album with pictures and testimonials.  Here's an opportunity to provide ideas and inspiration for projects you've completed that your prospects may be considering.  No matter how good you say you are, customer testimonials lend credibility.
3.    Have a contest or drawing.  Give away something that is attractive to them, especially something with a high perceived value.  For example, some contractors will give away a fire pit with a value of $950, yet costs a fraction for the contractor to build.
4.    A candy bowl.  Be sure it's deep and don't fill it up, let it appear as though there isn't much left.  They'll want to grab some before it's all gone.
5.    Wear shirts with your logo on them.  You have an opportunity to build brand awareness.  Have a name tag too.  People like to know who they're talking to.
6.    Don't just stand in the back of your booth.  Get in the aisle and mingle and engage prospects.
7.    Wear a smile.  Prospects are more likely to engage a smiling face.
8.    Be energetic.  You need to be positive and deliver your message with some enthusiasm.  If you're tired, don't sit in the booth, switch out every hour or so with someone to keep the upbeat tone in your booth.
9.    Boldly display your website on your backdrop.  To stand out, some companies make the name a different color than the "www" or ".com".
10.    Ask them to fill out a lead form.  Be sure to capture as much information from them as possible, including their email address.  Having their email address allows you to passively stay in contact with them throughout the year with monthly newsletters and seasonal specials.
11.    Partner with a complimentary business.  This could allow you to have a larger booth presence and share more leads.
12.    Keep a clear path.  Don't clutter up your booth.  Allow prospects the opportunity to step into your booth area and out of the aisle.  This make it easier to engage them and allows you to hold their attention.

Remember, your purpose is to gather leads and create a lasting impression so your prospect remembers you.  Be sure to qualify your leads.  Many companies use a grading system such as A= hot lead, B=warm lead, and C=slightly interested lead. Always try to set the appointment right there at the show.  This will save you valuable time from chasing after them to set the appointment.

I hope you find a lot of success at your next home show or fair.  If you'd like learn more about a product that draws customers to your booth, follow the link below for a video overview and webinar schedule of the Stonemakers system for retaining walls and hardscapes.

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Topics: Stonemakers, home show success

Five Reasons For The Increased Demand For Outdoor Kitchens

The growth in demand for outdoor kitchens has continuously climbed over the past five years.  In the coming years, as dwelling sizes decrease, nearly 20% of all new homes built will have an outdoor kitchen.  Why?  Here are 5 advantages to having an outdoor kitchen:

1.    Cooking outdoors isn't a chore.
2.    Grilled food taste better.
3.    The fish you cook on the grill doesn't linger in the backyard for days.
4.    You can hose spilled beer off the patio.
5.    Holiday celebrations can be held at home.

Today's outdoor kitchens can be perfectly customized with a refrigerator, grill, storage compartment, sink, stereo system, television, bar, kegorator, stovetop-style burners, prep area, griddles, storage space, low counters, bar-height counters for guests, just about any amenity to increase the outdoor living experience.

The most amazing thing about building outdoor kitchens is the ability to customize everything, from countertop height to cabinet depth and accessories.  Outdoor kitchen designs can be incorporated into any existing space. U-shaped, L-shaped, round, bar-style and island style are just a few design ideas that can be built.

An investment in an outdoor kitchen can range from approximately $3,000 to more than $30,000.  This offers an opportunity for talented contractors to capitalize on this demand and carve a niche in this growing segment of home improvement.

The growth in demand for outdoor kitchens has continuously climbed over the past five years.  In the coming years, as dwelling sizes decrease, nearly 20% of all new homes built will have an outdoor kitchen.  Why?  Here are 5 advantages to having an outdoor kitchen:

 

1.      Cooking outdoors isn't a chore.

2.      Grilled food taste better.

3.      The fish you cook on the grill doesn't linger in the backyard for days.

4.      You can hose spilled beer off the patio.

5.      Holiday celebrations can be held at home.

 

Today's outdoor kitchens can be perfectly customized with a refrigerator, grill, storage compartment, sink, stereo system, television, bar, kegorator, stovetop-style burners, prep area, griddles, storage space, low counters, bar-height counters for guests, just about any amenity to increase the outdoor living experience.

 

The most amazing thing about building outdoor kitchens is the ability to customize everything, from countertop height to cabinet depth and accessories.  Outdoor kitchen designs can be incorporated into any existing space. U-shaped, L-shaped, round, bar-style and island style are just a few design ideas that can be built.

 

An investment in an outdoor kitchen can range from approximately $3,000 to more than $30,000.  This offers an opportunity for talented contractors to capitalize on this demand and carve a niche in this growing segment of home improvement.

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Topics: outdoor living area, retaining walls, water features, patios, hardscape, outdoor kitchens

Seven Beautifying Features In Hardscape Design

Hardscape design, the landscaping term that typically refers to outdoor landscaping other than plants and greenery, has become increasingly more popular with homeowners.  In the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) top remodeling trends, outdoor living areas ranked number four.  What are consumers looking for?  Here's a list of seven features homeowners are building in their backyards.

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Topics: outdoor living area, retaining walls, water features, patios, hardscape, outdoor kitchens

Meeting 4 Challenges For 2011:Stonemakers Sponsoring GROW!2011

If you haven't heard yet, the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) list of top remodeling trends is out and number four on that list for 2011 is outdoor living areas including patios, outdoor kitchens, water features and retaining walls.  This creates an opportunity for landscape and hardscape contractors to meet this pent up demand and increase the bottom line in the new year.  What is the most effecient way to achieve growth and how do you do it?

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Topics: Marty Grunder, GROW!2011, outdoor living areas, hardscape

Seeing Is Believing: A New Dealer's Impressions Of Stonemakers

We get a lot of questions about the Stonemakers system for creating retaining walls and hardscapes.  It goes against most beliefs about what can be done with concrete.  December 18, 2010 we completed our last dealer training of the year.  One of the new dealers, James Snyder of Alberto Group Landscaping,  shared these thoughts after completeing training.

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Topics: hardscapes, Stonemakers dealer training, retaining walls, concrete retaining wall