For Glen Roman, technical representative for Brickform Rafco in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., the decorative concrete industry future looks bright, as does his. He began in the industry seven years ago as a graphic designer working on a sandblast stenciling product for Brickform, and since then Roman has worked his way up the company chain and is now responsible for most of the technical support and training related to Brickform's family of products.

"I helped get sandblast stenciling of the ground and introduce it into the industry so to speak," Roman explains. "It had already been used [obviously] in certain forms, but we started manufacturing that product for decorative concrete industry. That's how I got introduced to decorative concrete."

Roman adds that his start doing the graphics and stenciling led to projectsupport, which led to another aspect of his job—training. "Because of my position, I've worked on some pretty high-end projects with some pretty talented people in the industry. There were a lot of project support issues that I had to deal with, so I immediately started working with the stains, overlays, color hardener, and that kind of thing...seeing how they all worked with the sandblast stenciling."

Training suits Roman well. "I've been told that I have a commanding presence," he laughs. "It's a cool job. I basically get to travel around and do classes and meet all the guys in the industry...I get to interact with our customers at a firsthand level. And that's a cool position to be in. It's great to interact with these guys and show them some tricks of the trade or a technique that in turn lets them make more money in this industry—that's a good feeling, and it's a lot of fun doing it."

Roman trains on the Rafco product line—anything from sandblast stenciling, to saw cutting, to acid staining, to color hardener, to stamp applications—he covers all the basics, even customer relations.

"What we do with the stenciling is mostly reproduction of existing artwork. We formulate that to scale for the job site. We get rough schematics, including the artwork of what they need, and we send them back a computerized original proof that shows them the reproduction at the scale they've asked for," Roman says of the process.

"It's all done with computer precision," Roman continues. "And the beautiful thing with the stenciling is there's really nothing we can't do in scale or size...Anything that can be drawn can be done with stenciling. That's really the artistic attraction to it. There's no limit on molds or sizes. It's almost anything goes."

"Being in technical support, I get to hear all the calls, from homeowners to architects, but mostly contractors that need some insight on a particular application," Roman explains. "That's a good feedback position to be in. I hear the good and the bad, so that's why I can relate and teach these guys some of the dos and don'ts."

In his travels, Roman notes that for the most part, the decorative concrete industry is big on training. "Almost all of the companies out there selling product have some sort of formal training—be it in-house training at their facility or doing what we do and going out to distributors and having classes and demonstrations," he adds.

"There are so many new avenues of creativity with decorative concrete," Roman continues. "There's a lot of skilled labor out there and there's a lot of creative companies out there doing really good work, and that's just an exciting thing to be a part of. These guys are out there doing things you may have trained them to do at one point in time, and now they're off and running and doing some fabulous work."

Since he's seen a lot, Roman shares his insight into what it takes to make it. "A good contractor is going to go to the effort to communicate with his customer about the application, explaining what industry standards are, what to expect out every technique or application, what not to promise, what to leave open, those kinds of things," Roman explains.

Roman says he's noticed that more and more distributors are picking up decorative concrete systems. "It's always a plus for them to have products in stock and have them on site for guys, the ones that do just tend to sell more, and most are committed to have the training available to support their customer base," he adds.

As for the industry he joined, Roman is excited about decorative concrete's future. "It's really exploded. It's just everywhere now," he says excitedly. "You rarely see generic concrete projects nowadays. It's all some sort of colored or textured concrete. You see it in all the new condominium and apartment complexes, retail shopping and designer malls, you name it."

"It's only going to get better. If you look at the history of concrete and how far it's gone in technology, it's pretty amazing. I don't think it's going to stop. They're going to come up with more and better ways to color concrete and other innovations. I think this industry will continue to grow with exciting new technology."

"I have a unique job," Roman concludes. "I get paid to travel, teach classes and have shows in front of a bunch of people. Helping them to be successful, that's a good position to be in. It's a good feeling when you're helping people get over a hurdle and making their job easier. I get paid for something I like to do. To me, that's a good thing."

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