Super-Krete founder John Holwitz started out as a successful general contractor based in the San Francisco, Calif., area, specializing in tennis court construction. In collaboration with chemists, he developed Super-Krete Liquid Concentrate, a coating product designed to withstand the test of time and last through extreme weather conditions. Today, Super-Krete products are sold in the U.S., Pacific Islands, China, Hong Kong, Czech Republic, Germany, Slovakia and Canada.

Super-Krete International Inc., located in El Cajon, Calif., provides product for various applications, including bridge decks, roadways, industrial flooring and dozens of other concrete surface areas. With a product line of nontoxic, environmentally-friendly products for concrete restoration and repair, including sealers, degreasers, water-based color stains, overlayments and acrylic/urethane paints, Holwitz and his daughter, Tracey, who has been working for her father's business during the summer months since she was a fifth grader, have built a reputation as one of the best.

Here are Holwitz's hindsight tips:

1. Managing employees
Although Holwitz admits people come and go, and "some catch on and some don't," he says, "We are lucky that at Super-Krete we work hard to maintain a collaborative team environment. My experience has been that if you include your team's opinions in the basic decision-making process, they will most likely stick with you. Your employees will tend to be more loyal and like family."

"I've trained employees who are now working with competition, but that it doesn't keep me from emphasizing ongoing training to employees to help them be 'The Concrete Overlay Experts!'. Training is crucial if we want to maintain a reputation of being able to provide solutions, service and support."

As for working with family, Holwitz says Tracey, who joined the company eight years ago right out of college with a degree in business management, has different opinions in areas such as marketing, but that it's a good thing, and she's definitely proven herself to be a key asset to the company. Since her inception as president, Tracey has been key in helping the company grow to the level it's at today.

2. Marketing/Advertising
When looking at the need for marketing and advertising in his industry, Holwitz recognizes the challenges.

"As a manufacturer, we have many audiences to market to. We are responsible for getting the word out to architects, developers, designers, contractors, builders, distributors and property owners. We understand that our products are not necessarily sold until they are down on the ground. We have to provide pull-through marketing strategies that create the demand, get us specified, and make our product available through distributors both domestically and internationally. It's tough when we're always developing new products for different segments of the market, too. We market to more than the decorative side-we focus on industrial, commercial and government sectors as well."

3. Customers
For every problem, there's a solution. That's the credo of Holwitz, who says Super-Krete has come this far because of their proven ability to solve problems.

And much like he identifies problems, Holwitz tries to solve them by recognizing the need in the market, then developing products to provide solutions. He says he also believes in cultivating relationships with his customers.

"We develop relationships with customers and establish a sense of loyalty," he adds, noting that he's constantly working on the development of new products that will save time, labor and money for the concrete contractor in the long run.

4. Distributors
Holwitz says part of the distribution process is education.

"We conduct training sessions for our distributors regularly," he says. "It's important that they're well-versed on the latest technology and solutions that we offer so that they can share new, accurate information with their customers. Our distributors are an extension of our company."

Super-Krete holds two-day, hands-on training seminars every month on how to successfully and profitably install Super-Krete products, and Holwitz says they are thinking about extending the course offerings. Super-Krete is also working to develop advanced classes for those who are already well-versed in the product line and are seeking niche markets. The company also has plans to offer their training classes over the Web to continue the education with their overseas clientele.

5. Facility management
"I started Super-Krete in the early 80s with a small and simple manufacturing operation with two employees," recalls Holwitz. "I was a contractor who had developed a superior product that helped me in my construction business. I saw opportunity. My ultimate goal was to start a business that my children could take over. As a specialty contractor, that wasn't likely. But as a manufacturer, the idea motivated me. Now, my children have been successful in taking over the business."

Today, Super-Krete is in a 20,000-square-foot manufacturing, showroom and office facility, with 16 employees, some of them located throughout the country.

6. Job site management
For Holwitz, it is imperative that any crew recognizes the key person to be that who mixes the material.

"The material is the key component in long-term success!" he states. "Always make sure at least one person on the job is a Certified Installer who can oversee the job and the crew."

7. Pricing
"We are very pleased to have our product available to contractors through loyal distributors," Holwitz explains. "Though having a distribution channel means less of a margin for us, the availability of our product ensures greater volume than we'd have if we were selling direct. It's challenging for us to always maintain a competitive price with our distributors with the ongoing price increases of our quality raw materials, but we manage to do so."

Holwitz says he's always working to develop new products that fill voids in the market.

"After the products have proven the test of time with success, we look to see if they will be affordable," he adds. "We know there is a threshold of what the market overall will bear. Not all the products we develop are the most price-friendly, because they are high-quality products."

8. Practice what you preach
Holwitz says Super-Krete's product line is backed by quality control, technical support, training and customer service, as well as the ability to assist every client-be it a counter salesman, contractor, project manager or homeowner.

"Our company has a proven reputation of standing behind our quality products and technical support," he concludes. "We take pride in being a resource for solutions. Especially in this evolving environment, it is important that installers are comfortable asking questions and know where they can go to get the answers".

That, coupled with innovation and great management, explains why Super-Krete's taking the decorative concrete industry by storm.

Read other articles in the Hindsight Series.

Industry Leader: Insights from Super-Krete’s John Holwitz