When you go to a construction industry trade show, you can't help but be impressed by the equipment. This is especially true for the biggest ones: World of Concrete, Bauma, and CONEXPO-CON/AGG.

Having written about the steel and metals industry many years ago, I can appreciate the raw materials that go into the ready-mix trucks, aggregate crushing equipment, material handlers, mixing equipment, excavators, and more. Then, the materials must be extruded, formed, and assembled. This is to say nothing of the engineers who dreamed up these innovations in the first place.

I bring this up because I was looking at my notes from CONCRETE SURFACES' Concrete Polishing Luncheon & Forum recently. This magazine hosted the event at World of Concrete earlier this year, which was attended by more than 180 concrete contractors, floor polishers, designers, and manufacturers.

Concrete polishing contractors swarmed the Las Vegas Convention Center's South Hall on the lookout for the latest and greatest walk-behind polishers and grinders, diamond pads, densifiers, stains, and more. But as I recall the forum's three speakers, I'm struck by how much of their presentations were devoted to common sense, people-oriented advice.

This counsel includes common sense instructions about what to say and not to say on a job or to a customer, how to provide proper follow-up after you have polished the last portion of a floor, and the need for all parties to work together as a team.

The equipment at World of Concrete is impressive in scope, but there are a lot of people skills behind it.
The equipment at World of Concrete is impressive in scope, but there are a lot of people skills behind it.

“I'm a big proponent of everyone working together,” said Lendall Mains, an architect with 3W Studios in Las Vegas. “I need to be able to pick up the phone and talk to the manufacturer and find out how upfront and honest he was. Did he tell me everything or are there parts missing? Usually, if they are good at their job, they know what they are doing, and they are honest with me, I'm happy and the owner ends up with a good product.”

But, having good people skills does not mean you hang yourself by a noose for the sake of your customers. “If after a job, the end-user loves it, but you are such a stickler for doing everything perfect, and you open your mouth and point out the things you are not happy with, that customer is not going to be happy,” explained concrete polisher Peter Wager. “There are times to keep your mouth quiet.”

A theme that always emerges at such forums is the temptation to over-sell a project. Are polishers not taking the advice? A term that gets people in trouble is calling a polished floor “bulletproof,” Wager said. “It's not bulletproof. It's a great floor and it has a lot of things it delivers. But the second you oversell something, you're dead. Know the limitations of the floor.”

I'm going to go out on a limb, but I don't think I'm overselling the Concrete Polishing Luncheon & Forum. It was valuable for everyone who attended the event. You can watch the presentations at Concrete Construction TV.