- Staining Concrete
- Stamped Concrete
- Concrete Overlays
- Concrete Resurfacing
- Concrete Polishing
- Concrete Dyes
- Colored Concrete
- Indoor Concrete
- Concrete Floors
- Concrete Countertops
- Garage Floor Coatings
- Furniture, Sinks, Fire Bowls
- Basement Floors
- Outdoor Concrete
- Concrete Patios
- Concrete Driveways
- Concrete Pool Decks
- Outdoor Kitchens & Counters
- Outdoor Fireplace
- Concrete Walkways
- Concrete Pavers
- Concrete Walls
- Repair & Maintenance
- Foundation Repair
- Concrete Crack Repair
- Concrete Sealers
- Building with Concrete
- Concrete Homes
- Concrete Basements
- Decorative Concrete
Industry LeaderBarbara Sargent: Keeping Kemiko at the Top of Its Game
In the course of interacting with hundreds of contractors throughout the nation, whenever 'staining concrete' comes up in the conversation-the majority of the time both Kemiko Concrete Floor Stains and Barbara Sargent are mentioned. "I use Kemiko Stains, isn't Barbara great," are among the frequent comments.
Sargent got much of her business experience while working for 21 years at Lambert Landscape Company in Dallas, Texas, where she was in charge of their retail store marketing and customer service.
One product that Lambert carried was Kemiko Concrete Floor Stains. According to Sargent, "Kemiko was not aggressively promoting and marketing their product. So nine years ago, my husband, Sarge, and I spearheaded the National Distribution efforts." They have been growing the business ever since.
For the first two and a half years, Barbara and Sarge worked seven days a week—they conducted all Kemiko sales, product shipping, advertising, technical issues, and customer service.
Today, clients get help from the Kemiko staff—all have been with Barbara and Sarge for many years and can answer most questions that come in themselves. It also helps that the firm focuses strictly on concrete stains, as well as the sealers and waxes that protect and maintain the stains.
"Since we don't represent a broad range of products, our concentration is on our selected stains, waxes, and sealers for concrete. This helps us be very knowledgeable about what we are doing," Sargent explains.
This "high touch" approach with customers was, and still is, central to Kemiko's success. Notes Sargent, "We never want to get so big that we lose the customer service aspect. Then all our talk of friendly customer service will have been just words."
All of Kemiko's customer service is supported by a simple yet sophisticated marketing plan. Kemiko Concrete Floor Stains is now advertised in over 50 national publications, and they are present in television shows and at trade shows. "I've learned in business that in good times you advertise, and in bad times you advertise," Sargent observes.
Another important concept about marketing that Sargent has learned involves knowing when to concentrate on a market area. "I used to try to drive the market," she notes. "Now, I wait for our website and our national advertising responses to tell me where there is heavy demand for concrete stains. [Then] I go into a market when that market tells me it is ready."
Of course, the strongest customer service and the most sophisticated marketing would be for naught if it weren't supported by a strong product—such as Kemiko Concrete Floor Stains—one that is growing in acceptance by the day.
Sargent can, and does, rattle off a host of benefits of concrete floor stains: "Architects have always loved concrete stains. They enhances the integrity of their designs. Homeowners love them because the floors are easy to maintain. Stains don't rule out any option, so if you want to sell your home and the next homeowner wants to change their décor to include carpet or hardwood, they are still just dealing with the slab of their home and can cover the stained floor. Stains are also great any place you deal with the elements, such as sand or snow. Stained floors are beautiful, and they are wonderful for people with allergies who don't want carpet."
As for what's new in the industry, Sargent is excited about what the future is bringing, including improved overlay mixtures for flat and vertical surfaces, and much more comprehensive training seminars and hands-on training classes, as well as more implementation of polished concrete.
Sargent adds, "But most of all—decorative concrete has 'tweaked' the consumers' thought process about what used to be a rather dull building material. What is new is that now, be it a residential or commercial project, concrete is chic! Just a few years past, you did not hear those words spoken as it related to our industry."
"Never again will the concrete industry view the 'decorative arm' in the same light," she continues. "The ardor and care put forth by so many people in the decorative concrete field has indeed proven to be a winner for all involved. Where is our industry headed? No place but up!"
Since 1932, Kemiko Concrete Stain and companion concrete finishes have served architects, builders, and homeowners. "It is a privilege to be associated with a product line that has withstood the test of time," says Sargent.
"I'm inspired by the tremendous style and artistic design of the professional concrete contractors in today's market," she adds. "I hesitate to use the word contractor, because many across the nation are truly artisans."
Strong products in a growing market. One-on-one friendly service. Persistence. Strategic marketing. Business philosophies such as these, practiced by Barbara Sargent, can easily be misconstrued as old-fashioned in today's high tech, busy world. Yet clearly they continue to be in vogue.
In fact, these qualities, along with a strong, professional business ethic, never went out of style; thus the success of Kemiko Concrete Products, Inc. "We want to be known as a couple who brings unrelenting enthusiasm to the decorative concrete stain industry," says Sargent. We say, job well done.