Andrew Lash doesn’t just make concrete countertops, he’s also a concrete ambassador of sorts helping to educate those in his area about the benefits and possibilities that concrete possesses. I recently had the opportunity to talk with him about his work and some of the challenges he faces as he perfects his craft and builds his business in an area where people think of concrete as nothing more than the gray stuff you use to make sidewalks.
Educating About the Benefits of Concrete
Speaking about the challenge of attracting clients Andrew said, “In this area here in Florida it seems like most people aren’t aware of concrete as a potential solution for countertops or flooring… When they look at countertops they look at granite, quartz, Formica, laminate type things, not really considering concrete. So right now I feel like I really have to put money and effort into growing a market in this area and showing that concrete is a suitable surface for vanities and countertops. Once I do that, then I can make sure that people know I exist.
When people hear what I do, they so often think that I am referring to a sidewalk that they can put on their cabinets, but when they see pictures and samples that I have they are completely blown away with what concrete can look like.”
Working with concrete is exciting and rewarding, but it is a business that often requires customer education in addition to making great pieces.
One reason Andrew enjoys working with concrete is the wealth of possibilities this material provides. He often jokes with his customers that concrete’s versatility is one of its biggest advantages and biggest drawbacks. Customers can have literally almost anything they want. They aren’t limited to a few color choices or design possibilities. The difficult part however comes in helping his clients to figure out what they want so he can create a sample and make it happen.
“A lot of times I have customers that they love the idea that they can have what they want, but at the same time they can’t make a decision about what they want.”
This drive to create unique pieces has pushed Andrew into exploring new possibilities using concrete. Recently he crafted a beautiful set of bathroom cups for his girlfriend and offers similar custom cups to interested clients. A local florist has also contacted Andrew hoping to have custom concrete vases created.
Taking His Training and Making It His Own
I love seeing my students take the skills they learn and put them into creative, practical and profitable applications. Each student has a unique take on how to use concrete and each creative possibility inspires us. I had the pleasure of training Andrew in October 2011 in my Ultimate Course. In fact one of his biggest pieces of advice for those just getting started in concrete is to find and take advantage of training. Even though he was already working with concrete before attending our training, he found that being able to ask questions and see processes demonstrated was a big help to his career.
One last piece of advice he offers to those new in concrete industry is to avoid the urge to oversell the product.
“I’ve heard a lot of people that try to sell a concrete countertop as… stain-proof or scratch-proof which is definitely not the case and it comes back to bite them when (customer) gets a small scratch. Set expectations for whatever sealer or process you’re going to use.”
What great advice! Marketing the benefits of concrete is essential, but it is important not to sell it as something it is not. When customers know what to expect they will be better able to enjoy their new concrete countertops, and as we all know one happy customer can lead to many more.
Thanks again Andrew for sharing a few of your designs with me and the readers here on the CCI blog.