Amidst Slow Economy, Contractor Finds Ways to Pass Savings on to Clients

Jeff Kuryluk, owner of Concrete Encounter, offers high performance, stain resistant concrete countertops in select colors/sizes of countertops to save clients money.

In his own home in Fairfield, Conn., Jeff Kuryluk invites clients to see first-hand what it's like to live with concrete countertops. "I call it my 'living showroom,'" he says. "People can see exactly how concrete is lived with, how it holds up and reacts to everyday life." With two small children, Kuryluk's concrete doesn't live the simple life. Giving clients the chance to see concrete and feel it outside a protected showroom floor reassures them that they're making a smart buying decision.

"In this economy, there are less people saying 'I want concrete. I don't care how much it costs,'" explains Kuryluk, owner of Concrete Encounter. "There may be less new home construction, but there are many people out there remodeling who still desire concrete." Kuryluk doesn't want to just react to the changes in the market, he wants to be proactive. "One of our strategies is to get people in the door based on price point, offer them select colors/sizes of countertops to keep the price economical, but still give them the same high performance, stain resistant product." Being able to do certain things less expensively, without hurting his bottom line, lets Kuryluk pass those savings on to his customers, a savings that doesn't go unnoticed in today's economy.

Just like other solid surface materials, such as granite or tile, homeowners can now choose concrete countertops similar to this gray, 1 1/2" thick kitchen counter.

Passing on the Savings
"I wanted to be able to offer a high quality product but keep the price in line with other solid surface materials," says Kuryluk. To do this, he analyzed his books, expenses, and cost breakdowns. "Certain jobs have certain profit margins that I can give back to my customers," he explains. Here's the offer: Get precast concrete countertops, up to 8' sections, standard cabinet depth, 1 ½" thick in limited choice of grays, light tans, and white colors. Includes an undermount stainless steel sink, and installation and delivery within 30 miles.

By limiting countertop runs to only 8', Kuryluk can reuse his standard laminate forming material up to 20-30 times. "I've eliminated the waste and cost of developing custom forms," he says. "Also, an 8' concrete countertop can be installed with only two people, so it doesn't require any extra labor cost."

By limiting the color choices, Kuryluk can offer his same integral color pigments from B&J Colorants, but less pigment is used for grays, tans, and white. "I also won't create samples for clients at the lower price point," he explains, "which cuts out a lot of time and energy and material that I used to have to charge for."

Kuryluk's counters may come in select colors and sizes, but the same high-quality performance characteristics of the mix, how they're made, and how they're sealed is still the same.

All of the countertops are made in the same fashion as a custom counter, and given the same attention to detail. "We use laminate for forming to give me a better finished surface," says Kuryluk. "We grind and polish the finished tops because we like to expose some of the sand and we also make sure there are no pinholes hiding in the surface." Kuryluk also uses a variety of high-quality sealers depending on the application.

The Market's Response
Knowing concrete is an option for reasonably-priced new countertops has made a lot of customers happy. "Most of my clients want a casual, informal look," says Kuryluk. "They look at marble and granite which are too formal and can be costly. The trend in the home is more casual, entertaining and hanging out in the kitchen. Concrete gives 'comfortableness,'" he says. "When they drive by and see my sign or see my ads for concrete starting at the same price as other solid surface materials, they come in to see what it's all about."

To help land jobs, Kuryluk has offered to rip out and remove client's existing countertops as a "throw-in." "So many times, people will come to me and want to replace their countertops, but they have no resources for ripping out their existing material and hauling away the waste. I can get a few of my crew to go in and tear out in a short amount of time, so often I'll throw that in to help them out."

Concrete counters give a 'comfortableness' -an informal, casual feel-to kitchens where many homeowners find themselves entertaining and hanging out.

One of Kuryluk's biggest challenges is not to "throw-in" too much to throw off his price point. "I have a tendency to want to give away stuff to clients," he muses. "They ask for a drainboard, and to them, it seems so simple to just put one in the mold." But drainboard materials leave marks in the molds so he can't reuse them, changing the offer and pricing.

The nice part is that whatever a client may want whether it's a basic counter or a customized, oversized piece, Kuryluk can do it. "We do a lot of 12' to 13' islands. Clients like the concrete because any other material at that size would have to be seamed," he says. Some people want to put something in the counter with inlays, or shape it a certain way. That appeal for a material that's unlike any other on the market is the starting point that continues to get people talking and calling Kuryluk for concrete.

Concrete Encounter, LLC
Fairfield, CT 06824

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