Business Roots Allow Hyde Concrete to Grow

Greg Hyde Hryniewicz has an interesting background. His father is Polish, his mother was born in the United States, he was born in Sweden, and he was raised in Puerto Rico. He is a second-generation U.S. citizen. He says his dad was a civil engineer and restored their home in Old San Juan—a family experience that introduced him to the world of construction at a young age.

After high school Hryniewicz attended the Naval Academy. Upon graduation he served for the next five years as a naval officer at various locations in the United States and around the world (including 10 months in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia). When he finished his tour of duty he “decompressed” for the next seven months traveling the world and living out of his backpack. Then he enrolled at the University of Michigan to earn a Masters Degree in Business Administration (MBA), focusing on entrepreneurship and strategy management. He spent the next four years employed by a management consultant firm in Chicago working with Fortune 100 companies. But he longed to be an entrepreneur and be his own boss, so in 2005 he started his own company in Annapolis, Md. Hryniewicz says his parents gave the middle name “Hyde” to each of their children—if it was too difficult for people to say their last name they could always use their middle name. So the name of his company became Hyde Coatings.

Hyde Coatings

The company was originally formed to install sealers and coatings, including acid stain and overlay work, on floors—primarily garage floors. But Hryniewicz soon realized the fast growing decorative concrete market was filled with opportunity. So he expanded his product line to include staining, polishing, stamped impressions, countertops, pervious concrete and custom precast pieces. He also started doing business as Hyde Concrete (dba).

Starting a new company is never easy. Hryniewicz reports his effort was both expensive and painful. Concrete is the material of choice in Puerto Rico so he thought initially it would be fairly easy to find qualified people in the Annapolis area, but that didn’t turn out to be the case. The U.S. economic recession that started in 2007 hurt his efforts too. After exceptional growth in the first couple years, he reports their gross sale decreased by 20 percent in 2010. But by 2012 their sales were growing again and today they are a successful, thriving business. They currently employ 18 people, including an estimator and a part-time finance person in the office.

Polished concrete is currently their most popular product.

How the company is managed

With a background in management consulting you might wonder how Hryniewicz chooses to manage his own company. He defines his style as collaborative but with a strong sense of direction.

There is nothing revolutionary about how the company operates. Their guiding principles are the following:

  • To be a company with integrity is the first priority. Their goal is to be “open book” in all they do—being honest and forthright with staff and customers
  • To focus on training and education for all employees—keeping up with change
  • Hire the right people and then teach the required skills needed—finding employees who exemplify what the company stands for works out better than hiring for a skill set. This is not to say you should hire someone to finish concrete who has never done it, look for finisher personalities that best represent who the company is.
  • Do good work and fix job problems as they occur. Maintaining satisfied customers and struggling to be the contractor of choice is very important.
  • Manage customer expectations. Sometimes customers expect more from concrete work than can be delivered so part of building good will involves helping customers have realistic expectations.

Today Hyde Concrete is a successful decorative concrete contractor with a healthy work backlog. Hryniewicz credits this to his staff. He is very proud of them and has a high level of trust for his team.

Part of their increasing gross sale results from becoming a “one-stop shop,” installing almost all types of decorative products. Having employees who can learn how to do this wide range of work is critical and that’s why education and training is so important. He tries to hire self-directed people and then give them the freedom to work on their own and not micro-manage them.

Lessons learned

In hindsight Hryniewicz thinks it would have been better to work for another decorative concrete contractor first as a way to learn about the industry. He started his company realizing the opportunities decorative concrete offered but he didn’t fully appreciate the many risks. So the lessons learned were often painful and expensive and he doesn’t suggest this approach to others—the “learning by our mistakes approach” is the way many of us started out companies.

The decorative concrete industry keeps changing, coming up with new creative ideas. At the same time there are many more problems to solve than in the concrete industry as whole— problems that cause customers not to pay for their work. Hryniewicz decided from the beginning to make education for all levels of employees an important goal. “Hiring people with bad habits just repeats past errors. Hiring good people, educating them, and keeping them updated with the latest technology and ideas ends up saving the company money,” he says.

Hryniewicz first learned about the American Association of Concrete Contractors (ASCC) two years after starting his company by attending one of their decorative concrete events in Tampa, Fla. He wishes he had known about them when he first started because he learned a lot through the networking process with other member contractors. He joined a “MIX group” soon after joining the association too—a small group of non-competing contractors who share their problems and management ideas with each other.

Hyde Concrete currently employs two Construction Industry Management (CIM) student graduates. College programs such as CIM can help companies keep up with the latest technology advances. They are fresh minds eager to learn and grow.

Within their service area Hyde Concrete has become a market leader and they work hard to keep earning that trust with their customers.