Hallack believes in widespread training of the industry, especially for Hispanic workers. Hallack leads an all-Hispanic crew, with some of his employees speaking only English, others only Spanish and some bilingual. A year ago, Hallack started working with L.M. Scofield to translate educational and training material into Spanish. Last year he held six Spanish-language training courses around California, and during the 2007 World of Concrete, Hallack translated during several demonstrations at L.M. Scofield's outside booth.
"The bilingual training courses are very beneficial, because you can have everyone on staff attend the same seminar, regardless of whether they speak Spanish or English," he says. "I think training and education helps give people pride in the work they do. If we can mass educate our workers, the industry will succeed and grow."
Hallack has worked some high-profile jobs over the last 20 years, including a restoration project at the historic State Theater in Modesto, Calif., installation of a mini sports complex for an owner with a lot of professional athletes as friends, and two labyrinths which demanded precision work to create a 13-circuit design that the owners use as a substitute for a religious pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
Over the years, business has been great for Hallack. This winter is busier than usual and he plans to add more staff in 2007. And he's not limited to his geographic area. Hallack has already traveled to Hawaii to consult on jobs, and is looking to some training opportunities in Mexico and Central America. "This [decorative] market is so huge I can see the possibility for a lot of travel in the future," he says. "I could stay locally, but see myself going to the moon if I have to."
Hallack looks forward to winning powerful contracts with clients who seek high-quality work from a dedicated and professional company. And Hallack sees a strong future for the concrete industry in general with the rise in popularity of decorative work and the need for restoration. "There is so much concrete to be restored, it's a multibillion-dollar industry," he says.
On the job with Concrete Innovations by Hallack
In recent years, Julio Hallack and his team at Concrete Innovations by Hallack have had the opportunity to perform stained concrete floors and artwork accents on nine Save Mart Supermarkets in central California. These roughly 40,000-sq.-ft. projects require a skillful crew that understands the process of working on a job of this size. Save Mart allows Hallack only one week for project completion - no excuses. "After seven days there are people bringing in crates and refrigerators," he says. "If we don't meet those dates, we are fined thousands of dollars. We could also lose a client."
During a recent Save Mart project in Ripon, Calif., Mother Nature threw the usually sunny state some unusually cold weather. Despite the low temps, Hallack's team turned out a successful job.
Before Hallack starts in on a large commercial project, he does a little preprep work. "Once you take on a 40,000-sq.-ft. job, you need to make sure you understand the floor, the floor conditions and the chemicals that were applied by the concrete contractor on top of it," he says.
For Hallack, this means establishing a relationship with the general contractor on the project. "There are many curing compounds in the industry that can become the biggest failure on any staining job. We work closely with our general contractors, recommending to them the curing compound they need to use, and these are water-based curing compounds because we need to remove them," Hallack explains.
In addition, two to three weeks before doing the actual work, Hallack visits the jobsite to do several mock-ups on the slab from start to finish, including prepping, staining, stripping and applying the sealer.
When construction is completely finished, Hallack and his crew take over the jobsite and start in on cleaning up months of construction debris that has collected on the slab, taking up to two full days for cleaning on a project of this size. Hallack says his crew pays close attention to details, such as tire marks which can sometimes be a major challenge.
Hallack utilizes quality cleaning equipment - high-pressure washers, auto scrubbers and nylon brushes. "The equipment is a major part of the success of the cleanup and preparation," Hallack says. "If you don't take precautions when cleaning your floors, you can get a tremendous amount of delamination from the stain and sealers. I've seen this when people call me for consultations. They ask me why their stain doesn't look very good and the sealers look like a piece of skin. Nine out of 10 times, it was because the contractor did not prepare the subgrade to specifications."