Curt Meidling is one of America's top concrete contractors. Curt's reputation for consistently producing quality concrete construction is well deserved and has brought him a long list of repeat clients and many positive testimonials in the industry. Curt's specialty is floors, and his work with color and decorative concrete make him one of the top experts in the nation.

Curt learned about working with concrete from his father, Ed Meidling. Curt has taken Meidling Concrete's 55-year old reputation to new levels via his experience with dyes, colored shake-on hardeners, integral color, staining, and polishing. Currently his company focuses its attention on commercial slab placement with emphasis on specialty and decorative concrete. Meidling Construction is a certified L&M FGS/PermaShine and Seal Hard installer and a proponent of LEED certified building specifications for concrete.

We hope Curt's answers to the following questions will helpful in your understanding of concrete and its many interesting properties and placement options.

“Technology is a wonderful thing, but...we all still rely on good old-fashion skill and hard work.”

JV: How has your company survived in a tough industry for such a long period?
CM: Ever since I was a kid, my father's philosophy was always based upon two things: Do quality work and always look to improve. Doing quality work is the big one. There will always be someone who will be cheaper. But if you keep your quality high, you will always have work. On the second item, our company has always embraced the industry's new technology. I can remember when my dad purchased one of the first curb & gutter machines and line pumps. We were willing to try non-chloride accelerators and plasticizers when our competitors wouldn't. It was the same for riding trowels, vibrating screeds, and the laser screed. Today it's even more important. The industry is advancing every year. You have to keep up.

JV: How is the industry changing for you?
CM: I think the biggest change started some time ago with the creation of the laser screed. But more recently, over the last 5 years, it has been in the decorative side. And I don't mean just stamping and staining. The trend to use concrete as an interior floor finish is huge. And it will only continue to increase as options and techniques improve. It's been obvious with colored concrete and polishing. These options weren't really there 3 to 5 years ago -- but look at them now.

JV: What do you think is driving it?
CM: A couple years ago most people thought a LEED was a plant or insect. The whole “Green” concept started like a snowflake and is becoming an avalanche. While cement's environmental carbon footprint is considered high, once a concrete floor is installed, it becomes an excellent heat sink, a low-maintenance, extremely long lasting, and attractive flooring option. With the environment constantly in the media, concrete is poised to be a key element in Green building. I think we've seen this as more design firms and owners are looking to get their projects LEED certified.

JV: What do you consider to be a key element to a successful floor installation?
CM: It will always be quality. Technology is a wonderful thing. But laser screeds and riding trowels aren't run by robots (at least not yet). While these and other advancements have made our work easier, we all still rely on good old fashion skill and hard work. I'm not sure if concrete will ever be considered an easy job. The fact is that almost everyone on a concrete crew can have a big positive or detrimental effect on the floor's outcome. The challenge is to get everyone working together and doing their part.

JV: And how do you do that?
CM: That's the million-dollar question. It's an ongoing process. I think you need to educate your crews on techniques. We get them involved and solicit their opinions. Sometimes you just need to let them try things their way (to a limited extent, of course) and compare outcomes the next day. I also think you have to be hands-on a lot of the time. Concrete is still hard work. If you're out there with the crew, it helps to understand the complexity of the day. Everyone knows wet concrete becomes dry concrete. But every pour gets there differently.

JV: What's the biggest problem when installing a decorative concrete floor?
CM: That's easy — the owner! Most clients have misconceptions about decorative concrete. It doesn't matter if it's integral color, dry shake, stain, or polishing. Decorative concrete is still concrete. It is not granite, paint, or vinyl. It will never be 100% perfect, everywhere or every time. I think a lot of contractors screw up by overselling the client. In our case, we always try to educate the client before we start a project. Concrete is attractive because of its variations and nuances. It has a very organic appearance that nothing else provides. Each project truly is one of a kind. Hmmm….. Maybe we should start charging more.

About Curt Meidling:

Curt Meidling, President
Meidling Concrete, Inc.

Curt Meidling and his sister Fran took over operation of the company when their father retired in 1995. Meidling Concrete is a second-generation family business started in Wyoming 55 years ago. The company currently specializes in commercial slab placement with an emphasis on specialty and decorative concrete.

Other specialties include architectural white concrete slabs, dry shake hardeners, stamping, staining, and FGS/PermaShine polished concrete floors. Curt and company are active members of ASCC, ACI, and Associated Builders & Contractors (ABC).

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© 2008 L&M Construction Chemicals, Inc. | ConcreteNews September 2008.

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