Humanitarian, hero, and three-time heavyweight champion of the world, Mohammed Ali once said, “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” Revered for his accomplishments in the ring and beloved the world over for his sharp wit and big heart outside of it, Ali’s legacy is that of The People’s Champion.
David Edwards also enjoys a challenge and relishes the chance to give back. As the co-owner of Edwards Concrete Bomanite in Winter Garden, Fla., Edwards has been in the concrete business for more than 40 years. His firm specializes in decorative concrete applications and between the heat and humidity and Florida’s frequently difficult soil conditions, every job his firm does seems to have a few challenges.
“We do stamped concrete, exposed aggregate, polished, colored, and stained concrete,” says Edwards, who has been a Bomanite licensed contractor since 1989. His team of approximately 25 has been devising decorative concrete solutions across central Florida for four decades in service to theme parks, commercial contractors, and public institutions of all sorts and scales. “We don’t shy away from difficult jobs, and while I wear a lot of hats, I enjoy getting into the design side of the work quite a bit.”
Overcoming COVID-19 in a Beautiful Way
When COVID-19 shattered the world’s sense of normality in early 2020, Edwards was inspired to make a meaningful contribution to his community and quickly harnessed his team’s talents to put a little happiness in the lives of others.
“My wife and I grew up in Ocoee, Fla. and have lived here our whole lives,” says Edwards. “When the pandemic hit, we wanted to do something for the local health care workers who were putting their lives on the line for people in this community.”
Edwards first approached Mayor Rusty Johnson about a charitable giving project he had in mind for the Orlando Health – Central Hospital in Ocoee, Fl. Once the seed was planted, Edwards and his team quickly conceived of a way to enliven the building’s entrance with a decorative token of esteem. In a group effort, Edwards secured material donations from his long-time local suppliers of ready-mix concrete, lumber, and metalwork to assemble the resources required.
The result is a beautiful patio garden next to the building’s staff entrance where health care workers can catch a moment of reprieve from the rigors within. A bold blue heart of Bomanite exposed aggregate concrete in a glass finish is surrounded by blocks of Portland cement seeded with mother of pearl flakes and white chip granite. Strips of artificial turf segment the concrete sections to make the whole patio a refreshing pop of vibrant color that offers a warm welcome and a calm, quiet respite to the hospital's healthcare workers.
“We absolutely appreciate the healthcare workers on the front lines of this pandemic,” says Edwards with genuine satisfaction. “This resting area was meant to help them replenish themselves amid the stress and challenges of their jobs. We were fortunate to be considered an essential service in the early stages of the pandemic and wanted to show our support for the healthcare workers and our community.”
A Worthy Cause
Tyler Balch is a second-generation owner of Texas Bomanite in Dallas.
“Since the firm was founded in 1987, one of our core beliefs has been giving back to the community we serve,” says Balch of the firm’s operational foundation. Texas Bomanite employs close to 100 people and completes commercial architectural concrete projects across most of Texas from offices in Dallas and Austin. When the firm was approached about a small but significant polished concrete project for The American Fallen Soldiers Project in Addison, Texas, Balch knew immediately that their cause was worthy of charitable consideration.
A 501c3 non-profit organization, The American Fallen Soldiers Project honors and memorializes American military service members who made the ultimate sacrifice with an original, hand-painted portrait of the fallen that is presented to their family. The brainchild of artist Phil Taylor, each portrait is undertaken to provide Gold Star Families with a small token of comfort and compassion in their time of loss. When the organization leased a new office and gallery space in a suburban office park and inquired about a polished concrete floor, Texas Bomanite decided to do it at a discount.
“They wanted a polished concrete floor with a black orchid dye to give the space a very high-end, museum-quality feel,” shares Balch of the scope of work. “Because of the condition of the existing concrete slab, the work involved a lot of patching and grinding to prep the floor to be polished. We felt this was a cause we would be proud to get behind, so we donated time and materials equal to about 28% of the total cost. With Bomanite you are getting the best of the best, so making this an affordable option for a very worthy recipient made everyone involved feel fantastic.”
Making One Dream Come True
In Aurora, Colorado Bomanite licensed contractor, Colorado Hardscapes, supported a feel-good project of a different sort. Founded in 1947, Colorado Hardscapes has been Front Range Colorado’s premier decorative concrete contractors since the industry’s inception. When they learned of a local effort by the Make-A-Wish Foundation to build a sensory garden and playground for a local 7-year-old boy, Colorado Hardscapes jumped on board.
“The City of Aurora teamed up with the Make a Wish Foundation and a whole host of others to develop a fully-accessible playground with a sensory focus at Red-Tailed Hawk Park near the child’s home. We knew right away this was something we wanted to be a part of,” says Project Manager, Christy Bol. The child’s wish of wishes was simply to go to the park to play and laugh with other children and making that dream come true was a joy and honor for all involved.
The 8,000 SF site features a sensory wall composed of a tactile composition of shapes, textures, and colors, a wavy walk that undulates like a roller coaster, and swings, spinners, and slides of several sorts. A Bomanite Micro-Top was used to make the sensory wall pop with color, while a Bomanite texture mat added a high-touch surface to the rising wall. Bomanite Con-Color was also used to stain the concrete to add swooshes of whimsical flair to flatwork surfaces.
“We donated the materials and labor to do the wavy walk and stained concrete design throughout the park and did the vibrant, textured seat wall at cost,” says Bol. “We were also able to secure a donation from our concrete supplier, Aggregate Industries, for all of the concrete we installed.”
Beyond the giving back, Bol shares that the project called upon Colorado Hardscapes’ artistic capacities. “There was only a sketch to start with, so our team got to be creative in conceptualizing the parts and pieces of this one-of-a-kind sensory wall.”
From functional to fantastic, these projects explore the many interesting and innovative possibilities in the world of decorative concrete while illuminating a common bond between Bomanite’s nation-wide network of licensed contractors.
“From our perspective, we feel like we have been blessed to be a part of this great community-enhancing project,” says Bol. “Charitable giving is a great way to give back and show our commitment to the people and places our projects serve in a long-lasting, meaningful way.”