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Mini-blog post: Lecture at Chico State - Concrete basics and specialty concrete applications

concrete-lecture-chico-state-university-tom ralstonThe Concrete Industry Management Program at Chico State University is the only program in the Western United States that combines the academic disciplines of concrete science with business management. I was asked by Program Director Tanya Komas to speak on a topic related to the decorative concrete industry. On May 5, 2014 I gave a lecture on Concrete basics, inspiration and specialty concrete applications. Great time!!

Why I teach decorative concrete seminars

tom-ralston-discussing-decorative-concrete-with-cabrillo-college-classI have been reflecting lately about teaching seminars for decorative concrete. I started doing seminars for Granite Rock at the show grounds in Watsonville California.  The Granite Rock demonstration focused on how to color, stamp and texture decorative concrete. This was in 1995.

I remember a few years later I was asked to do a bonifide seminar by the American Society of Concrete Contractors in Dallas Texas. For the first time I had to speak on a podium and then go out in the field and give a demonstration. This particular seminar was on techniques for Acid Staining Concrete and decorative saw cutting. As I watched another person give his talk I became more and more nervous looking out to the audience of approximately 50-people as I watched another person give his talk. I was supposed to do my presentation at 10:30 a.m. but the speaker before me was running over by about 40 minutes. Because of this run over on time my presentation was pushed to after lunch. 

As I sat waiting for my lunch to arrive my nervousness turned to anxiety. When the food showed up I couldn’t eat a thing, in fact I was actually fake eating so that people wouldn’t think there was something wrong. (I might have asked where was the hungry dog under the table was at that moment). When it was my turn to speak the nervousness lasted about 5-minutes. I even had a “quasi-heckler” in the audience and I was able to handle him fairly well. That was over 19 years ago. I’ve been teaching seminars for years.

tom-describes-the-luminescent-concrete-lumi-ballWhy do I love teaching seminars?

I do love teaching and sharing information. Having people that quest for knowledge like I do is exiting. It is a mutual passion and both student and teacher can feed off each other. I love sharing about my trials and tribulations in the world of decorative concrete and hope that my information is of value. I do think I am sharing valuable information.  I have made so many costly errors in every aspect of construction and try express that in my seminars and lectures. Knowing that I’ve helped someone see the art in concrete work is so rewarding to me.

Concrete is so versatile. I don’t think a lot of people see that. Hopefully my seminars and lectures will help them realize that they have a greater scope of what concrete can do to beautify a landscape, a hillside, a property, a commercial building. They could even add a glow with  a Lumi Lumi Concrete applications.

The real joy comes when I see someone that attended one of my seminars and they have done something really cool with what they learned. Or they come up to me and say they still remember my seminar and how it made a lasting impression on them.  I am proud and honored that I could be an inspiration to them.

chuck mornard-gary ransone-tom ralstonI will be teaching about my experiences for many years to come. The rewards are countless and it is a lot of fun to see my students enjoy themselves.

I also am on the Board for the Construction Energy and Management course taught at Cabrillo College and have been for seven years. Chuck Mornard is the Chairperson. This helps students find employment in the broad spectrum of opportunities available in the construction industry. The program also provides continuing education for those already employed in the construction industry.

TRC Awards and Magazines Q1 2014

TRC-awards-mags-q1-2014TRC was overjoyed in January @ the 2014 World of Concrete where we received a Certificate of Recognition for presenting 19-Seminars over the last 10-years at the World of Concrete and additionally was presented with 5-Awards with 1-Best of Show out of 96 National Entries; to top it off in February 2014, TRC was featured in 4-Magazines: 1- Local; 2-National and 1-International.   
 
Confucius say:
"While sometimes it is good to sip, at other times it is Great to Guzzle"

 

Cowell's Garden: A blog for Santa Cruz Community Involvement

cowells-beach-350In the summer of 2012 Santa Cruz local designer Karen Toole approached me and asked if I could help create her vision of a park on West Cliff Drive. The park was to be funded by private donors. The purpose for the park would be two-fold: One it would serve to eliminate the riff raff that had been hanging out at this area above the Cowells surf break; and two, the land could be used to make a dynamic park by incorporating artful concrete stepping stones to meander through a botanical garden. The stepping stones would use the colors of the ocean's colorful cliff sides nearby by using multi-colored acid stains and would also create a tide pool feel to them by adding sea shells, beach glass, aquarium sand.

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World of Concrete Awards in Las Vegas 2013

world-of-concrete-2013-tom-ralston-videoEvery year at the World of Concrete there is an award presentation by the American Society of Concrete Contractors. The award committee has a panel of judges that choose winners for various projects that were entered for the particular year. Some of the categories are concrete countertops, specialty finishes, best art work, best cast in place etc.

This year Tom Ralston Concrete entered one project in the best specialty concrete category and won first place. The 2013 award follows Tom Ralston Concrete's 2012 awards for Best Cast in Place as well as Best in Show for the same project. The Cygnus media group called Tom Ralston after the winners were chosen and asked if he wouldn't mind doing an interview at the 2013 World of Concrete. This video has Cynuns' Roger Mann interviewing Tom Ralston for the second year in a row.

Panama: A Blog for Pouring and Acid Staining Floors

inspiring-picture-for-concrete-floors-panamaSo it all started with an e-mail in February of 2007 from a woman who saw our "Rockview" floors on our Website. The concrete floors and walls she saw are in a house that overhangs the Monterey Bay on the California Coastline. She said that she had seen "veins" filled with aquarium sand, beach glass, and various seashells and she said that she "absolutely loved them." The catch was, she wanted our company to replicate this floor over 3800 miles away-- in Panama-- Bocas Del Toro to be exact which is on the Caribbean side of Panama. I was excited at the prospect thinking Tropical Island, great surf, unique and colorful floors...to a surfing concrete contractor from Santa Cruz, California this all sounded like a slice of heaven on earth to me.

Next came probably the hardest part of the venture: pricing and the logistics. What would it be like to work with the native Panamanians? How long would it take to construct our floors on a small island in a Third World Country? How difficult would it be to get the "hazardous" materials to Panama? I have had enough bouts in the United States with Hazardous Materials Agencies when it came to acid staining. We always make sure that we use baking soda or ammonia and copious amounts of fresh water to rinse with Acid Stains so that all of the tests will pass and come up neutral. How would we deal with shipping Hazardous Material to Panama? How much should we charge?

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Q&A Blog

Check out the Master Q&A blog for answers to your most commonly asked questions.

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