Every week, my passion for polished concrete flooring is tested. That is because this is a terrible business on paper:
• Construction service businesses require lots of skilled people.
• Service businesses are tricky to scale - if we suddenly increase sales 10X we have lots of new problems to solve.
• We provide customers with an inherently imperfect and unpredictable product.
• Almost no "barriers to entry": guys working out of their trucks with no idea what their real costs are compete with us on their way out of business.
I can't see myself passionate about much else right now though. Why? Well again, people build homes and buildings, and the only 2 choices for flooring are element7concrete and future-garbage:
• The coolest tile in the world, in 30 years looks like 1988 does now.
• Wood is great if it never gets wet...sooner or later that will happen though.
• Carpet just gets gross. Every year, billions pounds of carpet gets put in US landfills alone.
On top of that, I love our "backwards" customer experience. Most things I buy are exciting at first, and then disappoint over time (for instance, my Apple Watch is totally dead as I write this). Instead, the imperfection and unpredictability sometimes makes for a rocky road at first, but the real goodness of the work shines over time. That's how we created our own niche and built a multi-million-dollar enterprise in a tiny town.
The epitome of this may be emails like this one from earlier today:
You refinished our concrete floors about two years ago. I know we were pretty difficult clients (perfectionists!), but I have to admit we’ve been incredibly happy with our floors. We are new to home ownership and everything that comes along with it, so we’re learning as we go… To be honest, when we first bought our home - it was all very overwhelming and just a stressful time, so I would like to think we have mellowed out quite a bit since then :)
We aren’t in need of concrete work currently, but I was wondering if you might know any custom marble or wood vendors in the Austin area. Your approach to your work and dedication to your craft is quite incredible and completely set you apart from any other concrete vendors we spoke with at the time. I am hopeful there are other passionate craftsman in Austin - we’d like to make some custom furniture now, and will probably have other projects in the future as we continue to make changes around the home. Please let me know if you have any recommendations on any fronts!!
Thanks, and hope you’re having a good start to 2018!"
I want to point them in a great direction. I'm sure there are some strikingly good makers in ATX, but frankly I don't know a lot of guys outside of the hill country. If you know somebody remarkable, please comment below, or find us here on Facebook or @element_7 on Twitter.