Stay Ahead in Decorative Concrete

What's in a name? Well if you're Cutting Edge Decorative Concrete, Richfield, Ohio, it's your business philosophy. The company always tries to stay ahead - and on the cutting edge - of what's new in the decorative concrete industry, says president and founder Gregory Mata. Cutting Edge offers every decorative concrete service Mata knows of. And in the unlikely event he stumbles upon one he hasn't heard of, he's not afraid to find out more about it, or figure out how to make it.

In fact, that's one business aspect Mata prides himself on. "When I started I was experimenting and installing things that at that time were beyond the norm for the average decorative concrete contractor," Mata says. And that's still a major focus of the company. "It's one of the things I think takes us to a different level. Taking some educated risks along the way has and does continue to separate us from the competition."

To stay on the cutting edge, Mata is always looking for new services he can offer his predominately residential customers. Over the last several years, Cutting Edge has been pursuing the "complete home," Mata says. The company is now offering Insulating Concrete Form (ICF) construction for new homes. The extra benefit here: If you're the concrete contractor building the house, you can incorporate decorative concrete elements and be the one-stop shop for the customer.

Mata originally started his company with a focus on both concrete and masonry repair. In the beginning he put most of his energy into rebuilding and restoring masonry structures. He loved figuring out how a structure was built, why the design was having problems, and how to fix it and make it function correctly. Not long after, Mata discovered, became interested in and developed a passion for the growing decorative concrete industry. Within five years of starting his company, Mata had decided to focus specifically on decorative concrete. He wanted Cutting Edge to become a specialist in the industry, which for Mata meant focusing on attention to detail and approaching each job with the highest level of integrity.

In order for the team at Cutting Edge to become true specialists in decorative concrete, Mata placed an emphasis on education and research. In the beginning, Mata spent time taking classes and researching techniques across the country. "It takes time and money to educate yourself and your crew and really learn as much as you can. Like anything, you have to learn to walk before you run," Mata adds.

"We continually train our guys; constantly reinvest in all types of educational material, educational classes, product research, trying and testing ideas and techniques; and just educating ourselves as to how to properly perform the types of services we can offer, before we offer them. We won't use someone's project as our laboratory," Mata says.

Now that Mata has had plenty of time to "walk," he tries to keep his company's business at a slight jog, he says. This pace allows him to take on enough work without overwhelming his nine current employees.

But Mata doesn't see educated employees as the only requirement for being a specialist. He knows that a customer's education is just as important, so Mata makes sure he spends plenty of time providing information to his clients. "We take time to explain to them how we can accomplish their goals and what products and process we can use to do it. That way, they have of better understanding of what to expect," Mata says. "It's more important to have that informational conversation with people and not go right to the price conversation, even if that's the first question the customer asks."

Lack of customer knowledge can be a challenge, especially if the customer knows what he or she wants but doesn't know the correct terminology. A customer may think he is asking for one thing when he actually wants something completely different. Making sure the customer knows exactly what he or she is asking for is a priority in decorative concrete.

What's to love about decorative concrete?

According to Mata, it's versatility. You can polish, texture, color, mold and shape it. How can you ever get bored?" he says. Although Mata isn't one for clich├ęs, he can't help stating the fact that every decorative concrete job is different, allowing him to be creative every day. "I never knew I was an artistic guy until I started to do decorative concrete," he says.

It's Mata's high level of excitement for working, learning and experimenting with decorative concrete that keeps pushing him every day. And those prior years of experience in repair and restoration continue to have an important role in the operation and approach of each job. Being that every decorative concrete project is different and unique, analyzing them individually and figuring out how to put each one together to properly function is a way of habit for Mata and Cutting Edge Decorative Concrete.

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