BH: Four days after you returned home from Iraq you actually attended a course. What made you choose this particular course?
ME: Four days after our demobilization process we were in the skim coat course. We chose this course because we saw this as our most probable type of job to begin with. We are looking to expand our decorative concrete abilities to polished concrete floors, remodels and that sort of thing.
BH: Have you been able to apply any of the techniques or skills learned during your course in the real world on a project?
ME: We have. Attending the course has helped us avoid a few pitfalls. What we have learned has definitely propelled us ahead of our competition. Most of the decorative concrete contractors in my area are generic and are looking for the fastest way to finish a job or use cookie cutter stencils only. We have capitalized on their lack of training. They should have attended the Decorative Concrete Institute's seminar!
BH: Is your business progressing the way you want it to and do you have plans to return to Iraq?
ME: The business is doing well. We are working the commercial market pretty hard. We will be opening a 2,000-square-foot showroom in three weeks. As far as Iraq is concerned I have no desire to ever go back. I have been to the Middle East three times, twice to Iraq. Kurt is still a patriot. He would like to go back or maybe go to Afghanistan. He is a young officer with a lot of experience to pass on. I will stay back and run the business.
KZ: I will of course pursue our business into decorative concrete as well as continue my service in the Florida Army National Guard. As Mike put it, I am still young in both my careers that I have chosen. I'm really looking forward to expanding and learning more in the field of decorative concrete, but I also wish to continue my experience in the Army as well. And if it means serving again overseas I will do so gladly.
Both Michael and Kurt were a joy to have in our class. Our hats go off to you guys, not only for your service to our country but for your respectful and positive attitudes. I salute the two of you!
Bob Harris is the founder and president of the Decorative Concrete Institute, Temple, Ga., which provides hands-on training in architectural concrete. He has personally placed or supervised the placement of more than 3 million square feet of decorative concrete and is the author of a best-selling series of decorative concrete books and DVDs. For more information, call (877) DCI-8080 or visit decorativeconcreteinstitute.com.