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Pristine ConcreteOwner Dreams of Tackling Outdoor Cave, Water Project
It used to be that when Mike Boedekker went to Disneyland, he would find himself transfixed by the decorative concrete flatwork that graces the Magic Kingdom. Now that he runs a successful decorative concrete company, Boedekker often thinks about his dream project: one that involves water, caves, a grotto, waterfalls, and lots of creative uses for concrete — revealing perhaps that Disney may still be on his mind.
Boedekker's company, Pristine Concrete, is based in Paso Robles, which is in San Luis Obispo County, halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles. He offers an array of services, including colored concrete, countertops, driveways, engraving, staining, pool decks, stamping, and water projects.
Boedekker's career began as a commercial framer in Santa Barbara. He then moved to Paso Robles, where he was involved in residential framing and pouring foundations.
"I got my license and went more into the flatwork. I saw some of the stamped concrete and was fascinated by it," he said. "I'd go to Las Vegas or Disneyland and would always be looking at the concrete."
He soon began dabbling in it, trying his hand out at projects at home and anywhere friends, acquaintances and clients would let him.
"I started messing with it, trying to talk people into letting me do it for them," he said.
Boedekker's big break came when a noteworthy client accepted his offer and asked him to do the parking lot for Martin and Weyrich Winery's tasting room in Paso Robles.
"It kind of snowballed when I got that big winery job," he said, saying it provided him with a lot of exposure. "People see it and ask about it."
Boedekker has been stamping concrete since 1995. And he stays abreast of emerging techniques, products, and technologies by attending a variety of seminars at the World of Concrete tradeshow, which has ultimately broadened his decorative concrete horizons.
He also seeks the counsel of friend Bill Garcia, who has worked on a few Disney projects of his own.
"I get my cutting-edge tips from him," he said.
As Boedekker's skills evolved, he started providing more services: he began creating countertops about two years ago, initially focusing on outdoor countertops for patio areas.
"People saw what I did outside and liked it, and I began doing countertops inside," he said. "I've done quite a few now."
In fact, he created a unique restaurant countertop that glistens with fools' gold, and is adorned with black sand, bullet shells, and arrowheads.
"I enjoy everything we do. I like to be creative," he said.
While about 75 percent of Pristine Concrete's work is residential, Boedekker said he enjoys the commercial work more because there is greater license to be creative.
"It's like a blank piece of paper," he said, saying a lot of his commercial work involves staining.
And Boedekker has found that many homeowners are a bit on the conservative side when it comes to the thought of incorporating concrete into their homes for anything other than a driveway or simple gray patio.
"We're still a little behind the times," he said, saying the Central Valley has yet to catch up to big cities like San Francisco, Atlanta, Las Vegas, and Chicago when it comes to the acceptance of decorative concrete. "For our area it's all pretty cutting edge."
That being the case, Pristine Concrete faces only a few competitors. And not many focus exclusively on decorative concrete.
"But I'm getting more calls about countertops," he said. "I'm getting a lot of demand for it. It's the up-and-coming thing."
Boedekker gets a good number of inquiries from Internet marketing and his web site.
"I've gotten a lot of leads and e-mails," he said. "Sometimes people will just email me with a question, which is nice to help educate a bit."
Once hired by a homeowner, he's often given free rein to develop and design the project, unlike commercial projects in which a designer usually does that part of the job.
"I show (homeowners) my portfolio and they're amazed. They pretty much hand it over to me," he said.
Boedekker typically starts out with a light sketch of a project.
"My first design is usually extreme, then I work on toning it down," he said. "Ninety percent of the clients go with what I come up with."
In the meantime, Boedekker is pursuing exterior rock work, which is often incorporated into patios, and outdoor patio and barbecue areas.
With the growth in these types of outdoor living areas, Boedekker is finding his concrete work is a perfect match.
Growth of the outdoor room concept has kept pace with the economic boom of the past few decades, according to the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association. The accessorized backyard patio complete with fire pit, barbecue, and patio furniture has transformed into a fully furnished and intentionally constructed living space that serves as an extension of the home's interior space.
In fact, Boedekker said he would love to do some sort of big rock job — something that would involve a big custom pool, caves, waterfalls, a grotto, and stamping all around.
"Something really natural that blends in with the surroundings," he said.
In addition to his dream rock project, Boedekker's goal for his company in the near future is controlled growth. He currently has one six-man crew. Over the next year or two he hopes to double that, but only while maintaining the quality of the work.
"I'd rather keep the quality. That's what I've built my reputation on," he said.
Michele Dawson writes each week on one of the contractor members of The Concrete Network (www.concretenetwork.com). She has written about the home building industry for several years and was on the public affairs staff of the California Building Industry Association.