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One part artist, One part chemist, One part concrete contractorDiamond D's Dave Pettigrew
Concrete contracting can be a good business. The backbone of the concrete business is generally thought of as pouring curbs and gutters, demolition, house foundations, flatwork, parking areas, etc. Diamond D Concrete in Northern California does all these things, plus more.
Last week Diamond D owner Dave Pettigrew took my wife Valarie and I to the Griffin residence in La Honda, California to show us the variety of "special" concrete work he is doing. After our tour we sat down at "Alice's Restaurant" at Four Corners to discuss where he is going with all this "special" concrete work, and another house, the Heppner house, we will be visiting shortly.
One Part Artist
Sometimes you get a client who you connect with and the client trusts you to run with your ideas. This is what happened with Dave Pettigrew and Mark Griffin, owner of the La Honda house.
Dave and his friend Catherine drew sketches for the floor designs and the impressed Griffin responded, "You can do this with the concrete?"
Dave's crew of 5 men spent 3 days just scoring the designs into over 6000 square feet of concrete floors.
Then, it was a six week process to color the floor. Here Dave utilized four treatments: Micro topping, acid-etch stain, Con Color, and Plate-All - which is molten metal on concrete.
With all the patterns and multiple textures, this concrete floor is literally a work of art. (Note: The La Honda home will be finished around Christmas time – shortly after, final pictures of the floor will be available. The floor pictured needs a light sanding and a final coat of epoxy, after the other trades have finished with their work).
The La Honda house will also feature stamped and overlayed patios, a cantilevered pool deck, poured in place block wall caps, concrete countertops, and bathrooms with concrete tub surrounds, shower stalls and countertops – all to be done by Pettigrew and his crew.
The Heppener house on Branciforte Ridge is a round house on a hillside where Dave applied concrete stain to the exterior.
The stucco was done as usual – a scratch coat, a brown coat, and a final coat of stucco without the color. A stain was then applied by Diamond D giving the house the look of a thousand years old Tuscany Villa.
One Part Chemist
One theme in the discussion with Dave is that he does a lot of testing with products – and concrete mix designs. Altering and adjusting them when necessary. He uses his shop floor as his testing ground for how products will hold up, "If a product can hold up to us moving tools and equipment over it, it can hold up in a home or office," notes Dave.
He uses Granite Rock exclusively as his concrete supplier and they have worked together to develop special mixes for a variety applications, including the white cement floor he poured at the Heppener house. Granite Rock sometimes calls Pettigrew when they have a problem with colored concrete on other jobs. Together they come up with a solution. It's usually the application that determines the end result.
Dave often emails photos of completed jobs to the people at the Bomanite order desk or Granite Rock people because he feels they are participants in the work he does and should share his success.
One Part Contractor
I asked Dave where he sees himself in 5 years. He told me he seeks controlled growth, and to continue learning and doing new things that the "special" concrete work he does affords.
He told me he could never tell the city of Watsonville, where he does curb and gutter work, the "block and tackling" concrete work, that he wasn't going to do that type of work anymore. So he has a regular crew that does curb and gutter, and demolition. And another crew that does the custom concrete work.
Importantly, he noted that his roots in the concrete trade are vital to what he is learning to do with the material. He pointed out that strictly being an artist on top of the concrete is fine, but there are limitations to not actually knowing the trade, and the many characteristics of concrete.
In a nutshell, looking forward five years, Dave is not looking for a radical change. Just to keep getting better, being open to new ideas, testing, working for clients he likes that seek the type of work he does... Doesn't sound like a bad way to work!