The Concrete Countertop Institute is your complete resource for concrete countertop success.
The Concrete Countertop Institute's mission is to help concrete countertop professionals succeed. We do this by providing:
- Intensive training, both hands-on and self-study
- Membership programs
- Research and testing of the latest materials and procedures
- Advocacy, consultation and guidance to concrete countertop product manufacturers and the design community
First and foremost, you'll have a great training experience and get great customer service. Don't take our word for it. Hear what students have to say.
More reasons to train with CCI:
You'll get solid information from an engineer:
Our instructor, Jeffrey Girard, P.E., is a licensed professional civil engineer who personally teaches all classes.
Jeff will teach you far more than just the basic, oversimplified skills of creating concrete countertops, leaving you ignorant of how things really work. He will educate you on how to utilize different materials and methods and why they work. Workers have skills, bosses have knowledge.
This knowledge will give you freedom from problems, freedom to choose your own mix, and freedom to be creative without limits. Build your creativity on a solid technical foundation. Choose your training based on the merits of the knowledge you will gain, not based on how cool the instructor is.
We don't sell proprietary products:
The Concrete Countertop Institute does not push products. Our no BS approach helps you find the best materials from the best vendors. We don't push proprietary products on you. All classes teach inexpensive, versatile, high-performance from-scratch mix designs, and our textbooks include lists of all the equipment and materials you need and where to get them directly from the manufacturer. This means you get the best prices on the best materials and equipment, and the freedom to choose the best sources for you.
Learn not just how, but why:
Our classes are extremely comprehensive, teaching you not just how to make concrete countertops but WHY to do it that way. You will completely understand mix designs, reinforcing, sealing, etc. so there is no more trial and error or experimenting. You will have total confidence in your countertops.
Still not sure that concrete countertop training with CCI is right for you? Does this sound like you:
- You are serious about your concrete countertop quality and want to learn from a trusted source, in addition to online forums.
- You want to minimize mistakes and callbacks, and increase profits.
- You believe that manufacturing technically superior products that provide long-term performance is key to gaining market dominance and growing your business.
- You want the freedom to choose your own materials and not be bound to a proprietary mix.
- You want to understand why concrete countertop construction is done a certain way, not just blindly follow a recipe.
- You don't like taking shortcuts, but you do want to avoid the pitfalls.
- You take pride in producing high quality designs for the most discerning clients.
To see what engineering can accomplish, read about some of the high-performance countertops Jeff has designed and taught students to create. With a solid technical foundation, not only will you be more profitable because you have fewer problems, but also you will open up endless possibilities to exercise your own creativity without worries.
Not a beginner? What CCI offers experienced concrete countertop makers:
- Training: Even the most experienced person never stops learning.
- In-depth classes about topics important to take your business to the next level, such as sinks & molds, mix design, sales & marketing and project management
- A fresh perspective on concrete countertop techniques and a better understanding of why, through our extremely intensive "beginner" class The Ultimate Concrete Countertop Training.
- A quick, inexpensive way to learn GFRC through our GFRC 101 training.
- An in-depth class on Advanced 3-Dimensional Concrete, to add fireplaces, showers, fiber optics, fabric forming and more to your portfolio.
- Information and networking: You can't run a successful business in a vacuum.
- Solid information, find a contractor listing and online networking to help you succeed, through our membership programs
We are dedicated to your education and your success. Learn from The Concrete Countertop Institute, and get the knowledge and confidence you need to succeed.
Jeff Girard is a Civil Engineer who grew up in the cold regions of New England. Even as a teenager, he delighted in taking things apart and putting them back together to see how they worked. This passion for technology and an insatiable curiosity led to a career in engineering.
After completing his Master's degree from UMass in 1993, and getting married to his college sweetheart Lane Mangum, he worked for the Naval Civil Engineering Laboratory in Port Hueneme, California. There he worked on advanced civil engineering projects for the United States Navy. The projects he worked on there (most of which he can't talk about) trained him in how to find unusual solutions to complicated projects, and gave his immense creativity an outlet.
Jeff and Lane moved to Raleigh, NC in the late 90's, chasing the Dot Com craze. It was there that Jeff first heard of counters that were made from concrete, and decided to try this interior concrete thing for himself. Jeff decided to use a familiar medium in a way he had no experience with, and the rest, as they say, is history.
There weren't any training options a decade ago; in fact, there were no how-to guides at all. To accomplish his mission, Jeff turned to his engineering background, pulling textbooks off the shelf, performing several months of tedious research, testing and design, and basically treating his kitchen project the same way he treated his Navy contracts. If the Navy didn't fire him, odds were in his favor that his wife wouldn't either. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, the counters turned out perfectly, and Jeff didn't have to sleep on the couch for ruining the kitchen.
One of the things Jeff realized, as he was diving in-depth into this new branch of concrete formation, was that there was an unmet demand for concrete countertops in his region. So, as a relatively spur of the moment decision, he threw a website together with some photos of his kitchen, and thus FormWorks was born. FormWorks grew into a force to be reckoned with on the national concrete fabrication scene. Jeff's unique approach, keen eye for detail and craftsmanship and extensive engineering skills made FormWorks into a success.
In the early 2000s, as demand grew across the U.S, people began approaching Jeff and asking him to teach them the craft that he'd spent so many hours honing. It wasn't long before Jeff realized that, even as there was increasing demand for countertops, there was a huge need for qualified professionals to make them.
With that understanding in mind, he and Lane created The Concrete Countertop Institute in 2004. Through CCI's fundamental-based training courses, Jeff is able to share his knowledge and experience with anyone who desires to learn.
In 2006, Jeff and Lane expanded CCI's website into an in-depth resource center which aims to provide information to contractors, homeowners and everyone in between. They also developed membership programs, increased training options, and hit the international market, with students coming in from all parts of the globe.
Jeff travels extensively, to do individual trainings, industry seminars and consultations. He is frequently a featured speaker at World of Concrete, StonExpo, and the Concrete Decor Show, and his writing is published in several journals and magazines. At CCI, he does 100% of the training, as well as providing written materials for the self-study courses and manuals.
He is an active member of the American Society of Civil Engineers and the American Concrete Institute, and a patron of various museums, as well as an avid fan of fine wine, fresh ground coffee, high end audio and Monty Python.
Lane met Jeff in college in New England, and had no idea what a roller coaster her life would turn out to be! A mathematician and computer programmer, she followed the Dot Com dream from California to Raleigh. A native of North Carolina, the transition back to the East Coast was a little challenging after spending several years in perpetually sunny California. She spent the first part of her career as a computer programmer, then transitioned up the ladder to project management, technical product management, and finally product marketing and sales support. When the Dot Com market crashed, and Jeff had started actually getting customers for this crazy concrete countertop business, Lane decided to throw caution to the wind and embark on the adventure with him - making the final transition from software to hardware.
With her insights and hard work, she grew the company from a hobby level garage production to a formidable force in the international concrete fabrication scene. Through relationship marketing and relentless networking, Lane was able to make FormWorks into a successful fabrication company. When CCI transitioned to training full time, she was the driving force behind the scenes, implementing her knowledge and skills to develop the marketing books and tools to teach other people in one course what she had to learn the hard way through years of hard work.
As VP and General Manager of The Concrete Countertop Institute, Lane is in charge of marketing, sales, event scheduling and overseeing the day-to-day operations of the business. She is also a featured speaker at various conferences and events, and her writing has been published in industry magazines.
She is obsessed with the ballet, loves to dance (Latin, ballroom, bellydance, hip hop, techno - you name it!), and travels extensively to U.S. cities, the Caribbean, Europe and beyond, but most of all she loves to hang out at home base enjoying downtown Raleigh, spending time with her nieces, lounging with her cats, Tiki and Timbo, and chasing after little Pixie the miniature dachshund.
The friendly voice you hear on the phone and the polite and helpful emails you get come from Paula, who joined CCI in 2012. She's here to give CCI students the best possible service and support, all while rapidly learning the ins and outs of concrete and being amazed by our students' creations.
Paula received her AA Degree from Wake Technical Community College in 2007, and is currently working on her Bachelor's Degree from Meredith College in Graphic Design with a minor in Marketing. She was born and raised in Raleigh, married her high school sweetheart and has 3 beautiful little girls. She spends as much quality time as possible with her family.
She loves art museums, flea markets, and snagging great deals on Craigslist, and loves to travel even if it's just to uncharted territory in her home state. She enjoys anything artsy or crafty, and is learning to appreciate concrete more and more every day!
Margie joined CCI in 2010, fresh from a soul-searing stint in the telecom industry. With a background in customer service and a taste for the adventure of the unknown, Margie dived head-first into learning everything there was to know about what the students need, what makes the industry tick, and how to keep a training program functioning at optimum level.
Her favorite part of the job is getting to meet new people all the time, and being able to work (even in the periphery) of such a creative medium. Her primary functions are editing articles, assisting with the production of the newsletter, and sending Jeff and Lane funny pictures to keep them entertained throughout the week.
She currently resides in Texas, and tele-commutes to Raleigh for work every day. She has a passion for helping people and animals, and regularly sponsors local animal rescues.
Pixie is the newest (and smallest), addition to CCI. Born February 29, 2012, this leap year dog is a spunky miniature dachshund with a mischevious streak a mile wide. She's obsessed with paper towels, sticks and beer bottles (and no, Jeff and Lane don't let her drink beer)! She's not much of a shop dog, but she does travel well (she fits easily under the seat in an airplane) and accompanies Jeff and Lane on both business and vacation trips. The students enjoy spoiling her rotten each and every class.
Memphis was born in May of 2011, and has really enjoyed the second half of his life thus far. The first half was spent being moved from shelter to shelter, before being saved by an animal rescue group only days before he was slated to be euthanized. He met Margie by chance, and stole her heart right out of her body. He is a very bright Rhodesian Ridgeback, and his favorite things are chasing squirrels, squeaking his rubber lion at maximum volume (when he can't convince Mom to throw it for him), and dragging all the sticks he can find into the middle of the yard.
He also enjoys taking long naps, pouncing, and chewing on anything that he can crunch, cardboard being a particular favorite. He gets along well with the neighborhood cat and considers jumping up on people the only proper way to give a greeting.
Pippin was a Cardigan Welsh Corgi with little legs but a big heart. He was such a big help with classes and enjoyed getting under foot, under casting table, under mixer... at least he wasn't a jumper. He loved chewing on sticks, tearing around the dog park with the big dogs, and trying to chase squirrels up trees.
We lost Pippin tragically in April 2008, and he can never be replaced, but we are happy to welcome Pixie and Memphis into the CCI family. Every good company needs a good dog, and we're lucky to have 2!
Check out the Pippin photos on the CCI Facebook page. Many of our students remember him fondly, and we still miss him dearly.