John Cassidy of MP&R in Denton, Maryland has been improving people’s living spaces for almost twenty years. He recently added concrete countertops to his repertoire.
Like many of the students who come to The Concrete Countertop Institute, his interest was born out of wanting to improve his own home.
Cassidy and his wife looked at DIY sites and made their first concrete countertop together. “I looked at that and thought ‘I could do that for business, too.’ So, I got the training and set up a shop.”
In addition to concrete countertops, Cassidy provides complete bathroom and kitchen remodels, custom cabinetry and more.
“Basically everything except for the electrical and the plumbing and the HVAC,” he said.
While his remodeling services have been the mainstay of his business, concrete countertops are becoming more popular. Cassidy is one of the very few concrete countertop artisans near Denton.
“When I started, the biggest reason I decided to do it was I looked around and the closest places I could find that did concrete countertops were four hours away,” he said.
An Adaptable Professional and an Adaptable Material
Cassidy’s broad range of skills have proven useful in running a business. The flexibility inherent to concrete plays into that.
“There are a lot of different things you can do [with concrete]. I’ve got four or five different custom moldings that are things you couldn’t possibly get with granite. You can inlay just about anything that won’t get damaged by the moisture from the concrete to personalize it even more.”
Cassidy explained how an entire space can be unified by customizing the concrete to go with existing features in the room, such as the decorative elements on trim and door molding.
“You can actually use the same design and make a mold so you can have that on the edge of the countertop, too, and make it all work together. I did a countertop where I had an Italian ivy design built into the edge. You can see and feel it on there.”
The featured images show a bathroom that Cassidy completely remodeled. The homeowner wanted a Moroccan theme, which evolved as the project went on. The end result incorporates several creative elements, including the LED inlays, tile and, of course, the custom concrete work shown in the pictures.
Studying at the Institute
When Cassidy came to The Concrete Countertop Institute, he didn’t have a great deal of experience working with the material, aside from “pouring concrete to hold up fence posts,” he said.
“When I went there pretty much everybody except for me and another guy—who was actually a helicopter pilot up until that time—had a lot of experience with concrete. A couple of them already had countertop businesses and were looking to further their education.”
Cassidy’s skills in making molds, however, did prove very useful during his studies. He said that any skills one has will be applicable, and that having experience beforehand isn’t necessarily the most important factor involved in learning to work with concrete countertops.
“I think the biggest thing with the concrete is being creative,” Cassidy said. “Because if you’re not creative, you’re just making a plain slab of concrete.”
As for the classes, Cassidy said that, once he got into the program at The Concrete Countertop Institute, “Jeff was very thorough about explaining everything, right down to the smallest detail. He makes it pretty easy. I thought he was a very good teacher; I was very happy with the class.”
Cassidy acknowledged that there is some creativity that can go into granite countertops, but that concrete wins out. “They can’t do inlays, or the custom edges,” he noted, “to be able to do that stuff, for me, that’s where that creativity comes from and where it’s used.”
Cassidy works with his customers to come up with designs, taking their ideas and offering even more personalized options if they’re interested.
Advice for Those Starting Out
Cassidy likely has a different situation than many people starting out in the concrete countertop business. He has already built and sustained his business largely on word-of-mouth advertising and is in the process of developing a web presence. He already has a listing on The Concrete Countertop Institute’s Find a Professional page.
For those starting out, he advises making sure that one’s customers are happy, which can result in word-of-mouth recommendations.
“To me that’s always been a big thing, because that’s how I work,” he said.
Relying on his reputation, in fact, has helped him to stand out from competitors, even when his market was saturated with other service providers.
His commitment to customer service is demonstrated in the bathroom pictures. He actually built two vanities for the project.
The first vanity incorporated turquoise rivers but, when it was completed, the customer felt it was too busy. Cassidy built another for them, shown in the pictures.
“In the end, they were happy that I didn’t complain and I got paid for both of them, so it didn’t hurt me at all,” he said. “Just making sure the customer got exactly what they wanted made me happier about it, and that got me other business.”