Tom Bagsarian
Tom Bagsarian
After more than 30 years as a concrete contractor, Charles Griffasi could have easily played it safe. After all, he was successful with his Concrete Innovations business in Buffalo, N.Y., so there was no need to ruffle any feathers.

Still, he thought the emerging concrete polishing industry lacked education and focus. So, he; his brother-in-law, Michael Sawick; Joseph Flamingo, Sawick's business partner; and Griffasi's son, Jason, decided to wait no longer. They took it upon themselves to develop the International Concrete Polishing and Staining Conference. The inaugural event takes place Sept. 4-7 at the Westin Atlanta North. The organizers hope to stage it every year.

I wrote in the last issue about how impressed I was at the thirst for knowledge I witnessed at Concrete Surfaces' first Concrete Polishing Luncheon and Forum at World of Concrete in January. The event sold out, people were turned away at the door, and every minute of the program was filled with dynamic dialogue.

Apparently, I was onto something because Griffasi also sees ripples in the learning curve.

Griffasi found something similar when he went to a concrete countertop conference. “The value of having educational seminars, vendors, experts, and networking all in one place made an immediate impact on me,” he says.

“Over the past 10 years, the technology, equipment, and chemistry of concrete processing—grinding, honing, and polishing—has developed at an amazing rate,” Griffasi explains. “Holding an educational conference where experts can teach all the different areas that even the simplest projects demand and where information is presented in a non-biased, non-sales-driven way is what this industry requires if it is to survive and expand.”

But unfortunately, there has been no independent conference to attend and share ideas for contractors like Griffasi, who specialize in concrete polishing. He explains the frustration and expense of trial and error methods in an industry that is so new, many of the specifications and information are contradictory or non-existent.

So following the formula that interesting people, shared ideas, and a strong educational content mixed together yields great industry improvement, Griffasi hopes to improve the concrete polishing and staining industry. “The goal of the conference is simple,” he told me. “Create a forum where the participants become the leaders and experts in an industry that is still in its infancy.”

Topics will include the basics of concrete and concrete chemistry, equipment, abrasives, electrical equipment requirements, repair, decorative techniques, maintenance, coating removal, marketing and sales, and an overview of an entire job. Finally, a panel of industry experts will be on stage to answer questions from the audience.

Atlanta is very affordable venue for the event. It's located in the center of the polishing industry's strongest market, and after reviewing the program Griffasi and his team have developed, I think you'll find your time spent valuable in developing your business.

That's why we agreed to have Concrete Surfaces be the official publication of the event in September. Look for us there and for a story on the conference in our Fall issue. In the meantime, turn to page 38 for further details.

You also can visit the event's Web site at to learn more.

Managing Editor