Many people wonder why I would venture off on my own to start a brand new decorative concrete company. I wish there was a simple explanation, but truth be told, it’s been woven in my history long before I ever realized it. My grandpa was an entrepreneur. After the war, he settled down with his beautiful wife and started a simple concrete company. He called himself, Van the Cement Man. Cute, huh? He was cute. He was a hard working man determined to make it and support his wife and kids. And he did just that with his bare hands. I have no idea if he had any training or if he just figured it out. 70 years later, his legacy lives on. The company evolved and is a fairly well-recognized company in the industry. I was proud to be part of that legacy and to be part of that growth. My childhood was filled with memories of traveling with the family to build golf courses, meet concrete friends, watch my dad dream and even cleaning the office every Monday night. My dad taught me how to work hard and also how to dream. Those lessons stuck with me.
For the past 11 years, I worked for the family business, I learned and grew in ways I never imagined. I know I still have so much more to learn. But in the process, I met some amazing people. People just like my dad. People with passion and dreams. People like my Grandpa who believe in hard work and won’t settle for mediocre. People who cherish their employees like family, and if someone on their crew gets hurts or sick, they feel it in their heart as well. Some of those people were within the family business, some in Colorado and many are across this great nation. I cherish the friendships I have made in the industry and have been overwhelmed by the support I have received so far in this leap of faith as I begin to write the next chapter of my career.
This past January, I began dreaming. Things were changing at the family business that made me re-evaluate what my goals and dreams really were. Don’t get me wrong, I always have goals and a dreams, and often times it has to do with concrete (as weird as that may be), but this time I was being pushed out of my comfort zone. And to push my emotions and decisions even further, my husband and I had just started talking about try ing for one more kid. My, don’t you love it when God likes to shake things up to get your attention. So, with the changes at work and the potential changes at home, the sane thing to do would be to brace myself and see what happens right?
If you know me, I’m not quite sane and can’t quite sit and wait. I began dreaming and I began thinking out loud. One of those people I started thinking out loud to is my new business partner, Ryan Lakebrink. Over several talks and drinks (this was before we decided to try for baby #3, judgers) at The World of Concrete with him and my husband, my dreams started taking shape. We talked and dreamed and left Vegas more uncertain about my future. Other discussions and opportunities were discussed in similar forums. Over the next couple of months, the dreams started to brew. Still uncertain, I weighed many of my options. I talked to a consultant. I talked to my husband (over and over again… poor man – buy him a drink next time you see him!). My family went out to Missouri to visit Ryan’s company, see some of his jobs and meet his family. I also flew to California over a weekend to clear my head and sort it out.
California was the retreat I needed to sort everything out. I was not pregnant yet, but my husband and I still hung onto that potential future as well. But what I realized in California was that it was time to spread my wings and see what can be done. I have an amazingly supportive husband and wonderfully supportive friends. I walked around California, and everywhere I walked there was decorative concrete. Bike paths, city sidewalks, it seemed to be everywhere! As I walked around and was overwhelmed by the abundance of decorative concrete, I wondered why couldn’t Denver be like that? Why do people settled for mediocre concrete? Now maybe it wasn’t everywhere, but in comparison to Colorado, it was overwhelming. I love everything about decorative concrete. I love sitting down with architects, owners and landscape architects and dreaming with them about what could be possible. I love pushing the envelope of what has been done versus what could be done. I love working with general contractors and owners trying to figure out how to make the highest impact within the budget they have. I love seeing a crew proud of their accomplishment at the end of a pour and eager to tell their family about it. I love seeing a crew work together like a family and challenge each other. My passion is in concrete. Blame my dad, blame my grandpa, blame my friends…I don’t care, I love it.
And one of the best parts about this dream coming a reality was sharing the dream with my new partner Ryan. He loves concrete probably as much as I do. But you know what he has that I don’t? The ability to successfully make it all happen. He can build the crew and run them. He can run the operations of getting the work done and I can dream with the clients about what the work will look like. Yes, my dad had me stamping and finishing concrete (and painting rocks and dinosaur fossils…best childhood ever), but I don’t have the hands-on leadership field experience that Ryan has. So, we continued to brainstorm and to see if we could make it a reality. And like any new business and new venture in life, things took time to sort out and develop (and continue to do so). Finally in July, enough was in place to give me the confidence to spread my wings and step away from the historical family business into a business all of my own. Now almost 20 weeks pregnant and starting the new business, this leap of faith never felt so right. My grandpa and my parent’s (oh my Mom was a huge influencer too! That’s for another post though) legacy will continue to live on – it may live on at the “family business”, but it will also live on through the work I hope to do. They have instilled many things deep in my roots that will never be apart from me or the work I do.
To all of those out there making concrete pretty – thank you and carry the tradition on!