Launch Slideshow

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Certifying Success

Certifying Success

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    Pervious concrete with some brown pigment added creates odd-looking concrete.

ARMCA has made a lot of progress on that front by emphasizing quality improvement over specification requirements. A determined effort by the entire ARMCA membership accomplished this. To help people understand why flatwork certification is important, DeRoe developed a 20-minute presentation which he delivers with the fervor of a traveling evangelist.

“I've given it in West Memphis, Jonesboro, Springdale, Berryville, Fayetteville, Texarkana, Hot Springs, Pine Bluff, and Rogers...just about everywhere in the state of Arkansas,” says DeRoe. “We've given it to architects, engineers, home builders, contractors, ready-mix producers—anyone and everyone who's involved in concrete.”

Several of the ready-mix concrete producers in the state have sponsored dinners for local finishers and contractors. They provide a free dinner and DeRoe's presentation for attendees.

“The producers support the program so much, that some have offered the finishers who attend the training class a credit on their account for half the cost of the class,” says Madison. “It's not even dependent on them passing the certification. They just need to attend the class. The value of the information contained in the ACI Flatwork Finisher Certification is recognized by the ready-mix concrete producers, and they feel they receive a return on their investment through higher quality flatwork finishing and fewer call-backs.”

Contractors buying in

The program's success is partly due to contractors' recognition that this will benefit them at least as much as it does producers. “The certification effort helps the contractor understand how to become more efficient at what they do and produce a higher quality product,” says DeRoe. “In the end, that makes them more money. It's the combination of training and certification that makes our training programs successful.

DeRoe and his team respond to the contractors' needs. When contractors in Arkansas didn't feel they could afford to have their people off work for two days to attend the flatwork finishers certification class and exam, ARMCA streamlined the course. The classroom effort takes about six hours, followed by the exam, making for a long day. “When people register for a class, they are mailed the ACI Craftsman Workbook with a bright red sticker on the front stating, ‘Advanced study of the enclosed materials is highly recommended,'” says Madison.

ARMCA's board of directors has started to think about how to continue the relationship beyond the training course and certification, so it started a contractor membership recruitment program. Today, if a contractor joins ARMCA (for $350/year), as part of his membership, he gets to send two of his people to the flat-work finisher training course and certification exam (which would cost them $450).

“The board of directors believes so strongly in the flatwork finisher program, that they wanted to encourage the contractors to not only go through the program, but also to maintain communication with us for at least a year, getting our newsletter and learning about our programs and seminars,” says Madison. Eight construction companies have taken advantage of this offer.

ARMCA's members are also promoting certification from the owner's side. Members approach architects, engineers, and public works officials with suggested wording to include in project specifications. “We've had specifiers write it into their specs,” says DeRoe. Wal-Mart has adopted flatwork finisher certification into its floor specs.

Pervious certification

Pervious concrete has tremendous potential for the concrete industry in these times of green, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified construction. If even a small percentage of the parking lots and city streets that are built today with asphalt convert to pervious concrete, the effect could be enormous. The advantages lie mostly in improving runoff water quality and eliminating storm-water detention ponds.

“It's a very big issue that can open up a lot of doors for people around here,” says Shauna Young, who is in concrete sales and education at Smith's Ready Mix in Hot Springs, Ark., and ARMCA's leading proponent for pervious. “The thing that has so many people around Hot Springs starting to talk about this is that we are surrounded by lakes and we want to keep them clean.”