In this first episode of The Concrete Podcast we talk with Chuck Fournier about being new in the concrete industry and the challenges he faces. Below is a transcript of the conversation:


The Concrete Podcast - Chuck Fournier

00:01-14:29


INTRO WITH MUSIC: Welcome to the concrete podcast where we talk all things concrete. Featuring your host, Brandon Gore.
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Brandon Gore: Hello, and welcome to the Concrete Podcast, my name is Brandon Gore and I'll be your host. I've been in the decorative concrete industry since 2004. My companies are Gore Design Company, Hard Goods, and Concrete Design School. I also own a materials company called Kodiak Pro - the focus of this podcast will be on decorative concrete from forming concrete sinks and countertops, furniture, flooring, and carved concrete. In each episode I'll interview someone within the industry and focus on a topic that is relevant to them. These podcasts will be fairly short - 15 to 20 minutes on average. This week I'm interviewing Chuck Fournier of Creative Concrete Industries out of Brockville Ontario Canada. Chuck is a great guy that I first met in a DustyCrete class. He has since become a friend and has assisted with several concrete design school workshops. Let's go ahead and jump into the conversation. All right so I have Chuck Fournier with Creative Concrete Industries on the line, how’s it going Chuck? 
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Chuck Fournier: It's going great how are you? 
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Brandon Gore: Awesome man, what are you up to today?
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Chuck Fournier: I am at the National Home Show in Toronto right now, just displaying all my stuff that I've created over the last four weeks.
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Brandon Gore: How's the home show going?
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Chuck Fournier: It is going very well, I'm on day 3 of a 10 day stretch so it's, it's going well.
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Brandon Gore: That's insane.  
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Chuck Fournier: Get lots of, we're getting lots of awesome contacts out of it, so; 
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Brandon Gore: Great! Well that's actually a good Segway into what this podcast will be about, and what I want to talk about is what it's like for somebody like you that's fairly new to the concrete industry. What your trials and tribulations have been, what you've done for sales marketing, and what's been successful, and what hasn't been successful.
So how did you get into this? 
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Chuck Fournier: How do I get in concrete? Actually I started almost 2 years ago, where actually my older brother has been in concrete for about 5 years now, and then we decided we want to take a concrete countertop course, so we found a place in Toronto that they're actually more selling product, than they were teaching you the techniques, so on the way back from that we decided that we kind of fell in love with it, I wanted to basically take some more classes and so with that, so I actually searched out you and Dusty Baker, and flew to Nashville and did the course. I did the DustyCrete course with the fabric forming course down there, fell in love with it, and then I kind of took; you mean, I got the advanced course after that when I, when I went back and helped Dusty out for 6 months, but, yes so that's kind of like what led me into it, I had a full time job that I love before, and I quit it to basically enroll myself in concrete.
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Brandon Gore: And what has been your experience, so you been doing it for 2 years now what's been your experience as far as successes, and failures with actually making concrete?
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Chuck Fournier: My successes, I’d say I’ve built some pretty awesome pieces so far like being with, with, basically seemed l got back from all my, you know, learning and teaching and all that kind of stuff. We just kind of fell into some really big jobs, but you know, basically put me into this higher tier with people that, you know, because I've built impressive stuff right off the get go. So yes, that's, I don't know, my successes, I know it's been, it's been all upward, you know, right from the get go kind of thing so;
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Brandon Gore: Sure 
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Chuck Fournier: And yeah; 
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Brandon Gore: Have you had any setbacks or failures with the actual casting of concrete or sealing of concrete? 
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Chuck Fournier: I have not yet, because I guess that, you know, I haven't been in it long enough to say that I have had any failures yet, but I don't look at this as a failure as it's, it’s all about learning right? so any failures it's just kind of teach me how to do; you know, fix your mistakes for the next size. So it's not really failure yet, so, and I haven't really made any major ones, so I'm sure they're going to come.
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Brandon Gore:  Yeah. Do you think that training helped you bridge that gap? Because, I know for me, when I got started it was all trial and error, so I spent years and I'm still learning today but I spent years, and years, literally recasting every single thing I made multiple times. It doesn't seem like you've gone through that as much, do you do you think that training helped with that? 
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Chuck Fournier: Oh my God! I think the training; a lot of people think they can take one course I find, and they, you know, and then they want to do a lot of the trial and error stuff on their own. Where I find, I come back to your classes, I mean every four months. There's always in like you said, you're always learning something new, no matter if it's some it's been it's an issue for 10 years or one year, is concrete still is always evolving, there's always a new product coming out, is always a new way to do something, so I find by, by staying in to the classes even though it costs, let's say there is a cost involved in it, is every, you know, every 4 months you mean that that cost you're putting into it, you know, you're that much more advancing yourself in this industry, I've always learning and staying cutting edge. Because the people that only attend the class once and they don't do anything for another 5 years, they're still only doing the stuff that was, that they learn 5 years ago, or you know let's say 3 years ago. They're not, you know, they're not evolving with something that is always evolving. And I find so far I've only been for 2 years and we're already doing techniques differently than what we were doing 2 years ago; 
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Brandon Gore: That's awesome. So how, how did you, because you're in Toronto is that correct? 
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Chuck Fournier: Well right now I'm in Toronto, yep.
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Brandon Gore: Where's your company based out of?? 
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Chuck Fournier: My company is based in a Brockville Ontario, which is just basically by the nation's capital which is Ottawa, so we're um, I'm like, right now I'm in Toronto which is four, but I'm 4 hours east of Toronto;
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Brandon Gore: Got you.
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Chuck Fournier: Is where I'm located.
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Brandon Gore: Got you. And so in your area? What have you done to get exposure to you know market your company what's been successful for you?
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Chuck Fournier: Honestly I've done basically, other than Facebook and Instagram so far, I've done nothing. I just, you mean, basically word of mouth, and posting pieces that I've been creating, you know, getting on, you know, creating a Facebook page, and putting it out there, and I, you know, I promote it a little bit, you know the $30.00 promotions whatever you can do to get it to a wider variety of people. Same thing with Instagram, is, I'll promo pieces on there, and honestly, Instagram, and Facebook have been my biggest promoters, and where all my sales have come from.
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Brandon Gore: Got you. But you're at a home show right now, is this your 1st home show? 
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Chuck Fournier: Yes, yeah, this is my 1st home show yes.
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Brandon Gore: Got you. So I guess time will tell if it is worth it?
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Chuck Fournier: Exactly, so you mean this is a very expensive venture for us it was, you know, it's almost $20,000.00 by the time, you know, all the, by the booth, by the time the booth is paid for and all the pieces, and they get up here it's around $20,000.00 to be here for, for 10 days. So we'll, we'll see if it's worth it or not, because you think about it Facebook and Instagram, you know, have cost me maybe $200.00 over the last 8 months, where this has cost me 20,000.00 in 10 days;
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Brandon Gore: Yeah.
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Chuck Fournier: So, we'll see how it works out. 
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Brandon Gore: You know, I haven't done a show in; man, the last time I did one was 2012, so 7 years was the last time I did one. 
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Chuck Fournier: Yeah.
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Brandon Gore: And every time I've done one my experience has been I feel like at the time I was like man, I'm rich bitch I've sold, you know, $200,000.00 in products and the people say they're like, we're going to call you in a week, we have a huge project, we want to order 20 sinks, I never hear from them again.
So I don't know if people have good intentions or if they're just trying to come off as big shots, but my experience has been, I haven't lost money doing home shows, but I haven't found it, for me personally the ones I've done, I haven't found to be tremendously beneficial either. It’s kind of been a wash. 
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Chuck Fournier: Yeah. And, I'm hoping, I'm, I'm hoping it doesn't turn into that. We're getting some really good contacts with some of the people that are in here, I can tell, you can always kind of weed out the people that are very interested, in people that, you know, are just like oh that sounds cool, I'll get back to you; you already know you'll never hear from them again.
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Brandon Gore: Yeah.
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Chuck Fournier: But then, there are some people that I, that I, you know, that I haven't talked to, you know, and you get a good feeling that you know what, I'll probably hear from this person, you know, because they say listen, you know, our kitchen isn’t going to be installed until September, so it'll probably won't be till then. So am not expecting them to call me next week, I just know that there will be long term work coming out of it's at some point. So;
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Brandon Gore: Got you. So what, what has been your; I don't know, a good way to describe it, your bread and butter product, the thing that you're becoming known for what is that? 
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Chuck Fournier: Unfortunately, it's been bar tops so far, but the countertops and bar tops are right now is what I'm, what I'm, been my bread and butter, but it's not even where I want to focus; where I want to go towards. But right now that's, that's what's paying my bills and getting; keeping the shop doors open and all that kind of stuff, so; 
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Brandon Gore: Got you. And with your bar tops, you're doing the DustyCrete aesthetic, is that correct?
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Chuck Fournier: Yes I am. 
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Brandon Gore: And that's ah an ECC concrete mix?
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Chuck Fournier: Yes it is. 
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Brandon Gore: What do you like about that? Why do you use that?
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Chuck Fournier: I like it because it's a little bit more; less worrisome, you know, than GFRC. So you know, there's any imperfection that's in it you don't have to really worry about it, because that's just part of, it's part of the character in the top, so you don't have to worry about, you know, trying to create a perfect finish on, you know, on the piece, because it's just the imperfect is the perfect about it.
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Brandon Gore: Got you.
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Chuck Fournier: If that makes sense.
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Brandon Gore: Yeah, so the DustyCrete finish you can't really mess it up, but whatever you do to it;
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Chuck Fournier: No.
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Brandon Gore: You can work it into the final product and it looks good. 
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Chuck Fournier: And absolutely, and the thing about DustyCrete too is this, if you cast something you're like oh my god that looks weird, you know, and you say that, you know, to yourself at your shop, but once you finish it out and you get to a customer they don't know what they're, what they're supposed to be looking for, where you think you want it screwed up, to them it's an art piece, you know, it's a design piece, so it's not a, you know, it's never a mistake when it comes to DustyCrete. 
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Brandon Gore: Got you. Have there been any challenges with using ECC?
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Chuck Fournier: I haven't had any challenges yet, but I can't, like I said, I'm fairly new to all this still, so I'm sure, I'm sure I'm going to have some big challenges sooner or later.
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Brandon Gore: I think you're lucky, because you started off using ECC you came out of the gates and that's the product you're familiar with, for a lot of people;
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Chuck Fournier: Yes. 
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Brandon Gore: Who use GFRC or OPC And we're speaking like, you know, like a government agency with these acronyms, a lot of people wont know what they are but; people are trying to go from one type of concrete to ECC it can be challenging but if you started with that like you did; 
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Chuck Fournier: Yes. 
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Brandon Gore: I think it's a lot, a lot easier. So what is ECC? 
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Chuck Fournier: What's that? 
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Brandon Gore: What, if people don’t know…
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Chuck Fournier: I don't know the exact acronyms for it, so, engineered; you probably know it better than I do; 
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Brandon Gore: Yeah. 
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Chuck Fournier: Dusty says it so quickly and, and I always screwed up, you probably, like, you know, like you. 
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Brandon Gore: Yeah. Engineered Composite Concrete?
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Chuck Fournier: That's it, I was going to say composite yes, so, yes, yes, exactly. 
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Brandon Gore: Got you. So you started with that so it's been, it's been an easy journey for you. I tried, I personally tried to use ECC and it's just so different from GFRC that I personally don't like it, but it's not that it's bad I'm just, it's different than what I'm used to, and so it's not comfortable
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Chuck Fournier: Yeah, yeah, you're used to more of a flowable mix, this one, you know, you don't get that, you know, from that kind of thing, so;
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Brandon Gore: Exactly. What has been; go ahead. 
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Chuck Fournier: No, no, I just going to say do you mean, where you're coming with your E.C.C. and the G.F.R.C. means for me it's the opposite way around right? Because I'm, I do a lot of, I'm starting to get into a lot of G.F.R.C. pieces so it's; that's a new animal for me, and I'm learning it, you know, now that I'm using it more, you know, I'm trying to like, familiarize myself with using both of them very frequently, which I don't. So, you mean, for me it's the same thing, is, I'm, I'm very fluent in, you know, E.C.C. but G.F.R.C. I’m not. So;
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Brandon Gore: Got you. So somebody that's fairly new to this, what has been the best lesson you've learned so far?
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Chuck Fournier: Patience, 
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Brandon Gore: Patience.
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Chuck Fournier: Patience, yeah, you got to take your time everybody thinks they can rush through everything, and this is, this is a, this is just; take your time, like you know, I watch people, you know; we have one guy who works in our shop with us not directly with me, but they're rushing around they're trying to build stuff really quick like these are labors of love, like just take your time do everything right, and that's; to me that's what it is, it just slow down and do everything right once, because it'll save you a lot of hassle and heartache in the end. 
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Brandon Gore: I couldn’t agree more, patience is something; I'm in my 17th year business and I'm just now starting to develop some level of patience, you know, so, it’s part of it. Last question if you could give advice to someone just now getting into concrete what would it be?
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Chuck Fournier: What would it be?
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Brandon Gore: Yeah, what would you advise somebody just now getting into it? 
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Chuck Fournier: That's, that's all I can say, is just take the, take the right course, you know, search, you mean, search, search out the right people, take the right courses, and learn from, learn from people who, you know, who wanted, who are who are passionate about teaching. Not not just trying to sell a course, or product, but they're passionate about what they do, you know, and that's all I can; I don't know; to me it’s the courses, it’s taking the proper courses. 
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Brandon Gore: Awesome. Well Chuck I don't want to keep you, I know you're busy, it's been a pleasure talking to you, and I'm sure we'll chat again.
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Chuck Fournier: Sounds great, thank you very much.