A Polished Education
Surface Preparation Contractors go Back to School
Two professional surface preparation and floor polishing contractors joined forces when faced with an outstanding, yet very challenging, opportunity that exceeded either of their individual capacities. Together, they not only completed the project under time and under budget, their high-quality workmanship delighted the client and yielded an award.
The floor preparation professionals were charged with polishing large floor areas in three separate school buildings to a 3,000-grit finish, covering a combined 40,000 square feet. The existing canvases were a challenge given their 20+ year age, condition and irregular layout. The limestone aggregate floors, in some areas, required the use of professional grade grout filler to repair cracks and other openings. Being school buildings, there were dozens of different doorways with lots of challenging crevasses and awkward spaces between walls and columns that had to be polished by hand.
Jessica Ledger-Kalen, owner of CSDA member Royale Concrete based in Fairfield, Iowa, and Mike Denny, owner of Artistic Concrete Surfaces, LLC (ACS) in Spring Hill, Kansas, had no idea that a friendship forged at a CSDA-ST-115 (Measuring Concrete Micro Surface Texture) Certification course would manifest itself in the development of a partnership that has resulted not only in profits, but in industry praise.
“Mike and I hit it off during the ST-115 Certification course because we both shared common values as employers and experienced concrete contractors,” said Ledger-Kalen, a CSDA Board member and chairperson of the association’s Polishing Committee. “Our goal at Royale Concrete is to only accept jobs for which we are one-hundred percent confident we can deliver outstanding quality and service. Royale Concrete’s focus is absolutely about customer satisfaction and I could tell that both companies were grounded with the same foundation.”
The two identified the opportunity to work together on the large, multiple-building concrete polishing contract for the Blue Valley School District in Kansas. It was a great chance to capitalize on their relationship and combined company assets to do something that neither could have taken on alone.
“I grew up in the Blue Valley school system and had been working with the schools for some time to convince them that polished concrete was the best flooring solution,” commented Denny. “When they invited us to bid on a bigger, multi-school job, I recognized that while we couldn’t do it alone, we could pool resources with Royale Concrete to successfully complete work on time and to their high quality standards.”
The Blue Valley job design and specifications included difficult-to-meet standards, multiple general contractors and a tight timeline. The team worked closely with the architect to find a way to achieve the results while building a relationship with both the architect and the school system—managing expectations for future projects. The team also worked with representatives from Husqvarna Construction Products and the manufacturer’s specifications to get all parties on the same page.
Operators implemented Husqvarna’s HiPERFLOOR® concrete surface polishing system, mechanically refining the already hard concrete surface through a process of grinding, polishing and chemical treatments. The floors were specified based on their level of sheen and aggregate exposure using an established industry standard.
Work began with the use of bush hammer tooling, which was applied as a test to expose large aggregate quickly in line with the customer’s preference. The bush hammering was a success and provided the right type of surface for the contractors to move through a progression of metal grinding steps.
Next, a series of transitional tooling was applied by the contractors. The careful progression of each tooling step allowed the operators to reach the floor’s maximum level of refinement with a 3,000-grit finish.
The floor presented inconsistently with different degrees of porosity throughout the floor and several tight obstructions, which made it difficult to expose large aggregate in all areas. The contractors used a GM3000 grout filler from Husqvarna, filled joints with Versaflex SL 75 and used Versaflex tinted mender to fill small repairs, as well as cementious repair using rapid set cement. Corner polishing was extensive with doors and many angles through the project.
Collaboration wasn’t always easy, but the trick, Ledger-Kalen explained, was that both parties had a clear understanding from the start about roles and responsibilities. Royale Concrete accepted the project planning role and conducted weekly meetings with ACS to be sure everyone was aware of each other’s efforts and that the project was on schedule. The companies pooled resources to procure materials in order to get the best deals and dispatched employees on a schedule that enabled both companies to continue running other smaller individual projects simultaneously.
“We acted as one company,” Ledger-Kalen explained. “There was never a feeling of competition, quite the opposite in fact. We deployed workers, ordered materials, tracked expenses and divided profits as one entity from the start. Not only did we accomplish more by working together, we also learned a lot from one another. Our employees enjoyed working together and we truly feel that both companies have been strengthened from this effort.”
Upon project completion, ACS applied for and was awarded a 2016 Polished Concrete award from the Concrete Promotional Group of Kansas City. “My team was incredibly proud of the high quality results we achieved at Blue Valley,” Denny said. “We were excited to showcase our work, and that of our Royale Concrete partners. We hope to be an example to others to demonstrate that competitors can truly work together to accomplish outstanding results.”
“I have a great deal of respect for Mike and his team,” Ledger-Kalen said. “We’ve created a good partnership and I’m confident we’ll continue to build on that in the future.”
Royale Concrete has been a CSDA member for two years and is based in Fairfield, Iowa. The company has been in business for 11 years. It has 10 employees and offers the services of surface preparation, polishing, coatings, urethane concrete and floor repair. Royale Concrete employs operators that are CSDA-ST-115 Certified.
Blue Valley School District
CSDA Polishing Contractor:
Methods Used: Concrete Polishing