Hello forum, it's been awhile since I last visited and I am interested to see if anyone else has decided to leave countertops behind? 

After doing it for 15 years , I believe there are greater things that can be done with our beloved material in conjunction with other disciplines rather than schlepping slabs up and down stairs; don't get me wrong if I were more of a businessman and less of an artist I would pay laborers to fabricate and install like I used to before the crash; however, with this route there was always call backs or miscommunications. It is really a quality control business that I found can only really be kept at a high quality with direct supervision.

The other rub is fabricating something you hate; as in having to follow a design you think is garbage, despite my attempted slight nudging against the mistake.

I guess I lost my heart following other peoples design.

Now that the economy is better I have had to listen to my inner voice and design for me, not anyone else. I know there will be post like "who the f*** is this guy?" and "why the f*** do we care?' ... and that kind of response is actually justified. 

I learned this industry in the early days of the resurgence of concrete countertops from a master and will hold those experiences with great nostalgia.

There are a few giants on here that I respect whole heartedly and I it would be great to gain some feedback positive and negative. 

For those of you still committed to this specific part of our industry , keep up the good work fight the hard fight and be patient with "difficult" customers. 

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Hey Tim, sorry and happy to hear at the same time. It takes a big set of balls to walk away from something that you have dedicated so much time and energy to. This is one of the most difficult businesses out there for many of us. Most of us entered this business with very high expectations of its potential to give us creative freedom while we made money...This excitement slowly fizzles out over the years when you come to realize its not all it was cracked up to be. Ive had my ups and downs and downs and more downs but continue to press on. I looked to training to bring back the creative excitement that got me into this in the first place. My classes allow myself and students to revisit the fun part of what we do with no strings attached...if it turns out like s*** oh well no money lost. Its great to share experiences and frustrations with everyone as well. I dont think I will be heavily fabricating with concrete my entire life but I know I will still be using it my entire life to create.Its an addictive industry and can be very destructive to ones life as well. It makes us stronger ...We have all been tainted and inspired by this medium...Its a wonderfully horrible thing. So what have you decided to do? 

Tim I feel similar to you and Cody and often I am disenchanted with this trade. Definitely a love hate relationship with the medium and even more so with the people that dictate what you are making. I have so many ideas it pains me with some of the s*** I am required to make. I swear to god I could careless if I never made another top again but I obviously will never stop using concrete. For some of us this is our destiny. I think I am more disenchanted with the state of our planet at the moment. The opulence makes me sick what people can afford $200,000 for the tile in 1 home. This bothers me but these are the clients I would hope to get. I think they call this cognitive dissonance. I know the more I think I have answers the more I realize I know not!! I think Cody nailed it when he says Its an addictive industry and can be very destructive to ones life but like concrete it only gets stronger with time.

I agree with you guys. In my neck of the woods it's hard to sell concrete countertops but I also do stamped and exposed aggregate. This is my 18 year of this addiction and I couldn't think of anything else I would rather do. I know customers are not always easy to deal with but I got the concrete in my blood and push on.
There are days I think there has to be something better. Then next day I find it and it's still concrete. I know it's not complete freedom but it's called a job for a reason. It you want complete freedom build some vanities and just sell them as is. You might sell in a few day or it could take months but they buy as is where is.
I like to think my time with concrete is preparing me for something else in life. Not only am I gathering information about concrete, but I'm training my mind to think in the negative when it comes to mould making. I think it's funny how a new employee who has never dealt with precast concrete has that initial learning curve. I also think it's incredible when someone grabs ahold of the concept immediately. As a company, we make moulds I would not come near 5-8 years ago. I like to think of countertops as the base, but sink/fireplace surrounds as the creative area. My idea of perfection has changed through the years. I thank concrete for that.

Thanks for the reply guys, funny it's exactly who I wanted to hear from. Except no Remik, if he even is around here anymore....thought he would get fired up.

I am assuming everyone interprets the post differently, because dynamics of where you live can be so different from where the next person lives/ works. This being said LA is a horrible place to get a lot done in one day which is really the trick to making money doing concrete fabrication. What we do is hard f****** work, and as you know there is a s*** ton of training one needs to be a contributing force in a business. I can remember signing a "no competition" clause for Buddy Rhodes back in 2000 and I used to wonder why. Wow, did that ever become evident after my second apprentice left as the first did to start a business with his cousins.

So there are many contributing factors calling me to leave the countertop business the loudest of which is the idea of me dictating design 100% rather than following it. We all have those fantastic clients that say "do what you want " or "come up with a design" and if they were a constant I would see no reason for change, but i need to expand past the cement solely. I love the medium and will be using it still in my furniture along with wood and steel. Thanks from the bottom of my heart for your input, it takes a person of pretty good character to do what we do successfully and I wish nothing but the best for you guys, but f*** what a grind.

I'll provide links to my Etsy Shop and website when they are finished. 

Stay Cool

rAwesome Tim, I hope it works out man...I think furniture and architecture is a place where one can creatively break away from restrictions although I do believe production furniture lines can be difficult to make money on depending on the materials and design approach you take. Concrete being the one of the worst material choices for production lines. Stick with the wood and steel for the main bones and implement concrete for fixture type s***. This will make production easier and easier to package and ship along with durability  issues such as chipping or cracking during shipment. Happy for you man..I hope to pull out this card someday in the near future. I do love Kitchen and bath design and feel this is a strong place for concrete, but getting in on board with the project before a designer fills the space up with the same old cabinet box s*** that we get to throw some slabs on...now thats the kind of thing that really kills you creatively..I have been putting up with s*** for way to long and feel Im slowly crawling out of this hole...finally , but still a few years away from where I aspire to be so I press on until I get there. What I do know now after 10 years in the business is there is nothing you can put in front of me that even compares to the s*** I have put up with over the years...easy breazy

We all have our moments when something inside says, "I don't want to do this anymore."    Tim, you will do fine!!    

It's nice to know I'm not alone in my every day thoughts...countertops are fine and make money but I feel so uninspired.
Hi Tim....I just saw your post...those were the days..right? Everyone gets a bit board with work even if it's something you love to do. Customers are the hardest part of the job, then there are your employees, then the bidding and taxes. Jeeze...theirs always something...Communication is key but no one seems to listen. Remember back then I was making it all up as I went along. We were on the cutting edge of this industry.

Then there were the bad days where everything seemed to be a do-over...wrong size or wrong color or a mishap transporting. Never the same thing twice (not). It was always something that it drove me crazy and forced me to hide in the woods.

I'm sure whatever you find yourself doing there will be difficult clients and problems to solve. My advise to you is yes branch out but don't leave your skills behind.

Those were the days!
Thank you buddy for the reply...that is where I feel my frustrations lay...in doing everything right and still having to redo. If you have been there then atleast I know my path is sound. Thanks again

Buddy I have no idea how you dealt with that 8 headed monster back then. I don't think todays current concrete countertop manufacturers know how big of an operation that was, it was like Santa workshop filled with misfits. 

The lessons learned have propelled you to where you are today which makes a great example for us interested in branding our own skills and interest. Not leaving concrete completely , but definitely the countertop part. The contractors, architects and designers that I've worked with in past projects will continue to use concrete so I am not giving up concrete fabrication per say, because they get "it" and those applications are fun and sculptural.  

Just integrating the best aspects of concrete into wood and steel like many are already doing. The jump from that hustle takes a bite, but the litigious parts along with dealing with contractors who have no idea of what we do, who act  antagonistic towards us like we are a sideshow act will not be missed. However; I will miss there faces when you complete an install and they say "Wow I had no idea". Thanks again everyone, time to go weld.

I had an employee and friend who was 38 at the time he dropped out of highschool to become a stone mason tender at age 17 spent about 20 years in the masonry biz one day he decides to go to college and become an auto body tech. He graduated and is making $12 an hour, but he's happy though. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do I guess.

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