The odds of Eric Wayne Inc. (EWI), Davidson, N.C., winning a Golden Trowel at World of Concrete in Las Vegas were stacked against the company. The four-story office building and parking garage structures in downtown Charlotte included a host of challenges, making it difficult to obtain high flatness measurements.

First, there were six separate concrete pours of more than 10,000 square feet on three levels of the office building. "The number of pours and floors made this project a little unique to contend for a Golden Trowel Award," says Eric Wayne, president and CEO of EWI.

The metal base was cambered by two in more than a 40-foot span when placing concrete on the unshored deck. Ensuring floor flatness required the proper amount of concrete to be loaded on the deck. "You can overload the deck and take it past flat or you can under load and leave a hump in it," says Wayne. "It is what makes this one of the most difficult of all the Golden Trowel categories."

In the end, EWI's crew and equipment finished an incredibly smooth unshored deck. Independent verification of surface flatness using the F-Number System came back with an FF 55.5 measurement. "The average F-number for an unshored deck today is 25," says Jeff Rogers, director of engineering for The Face Companies, Norfolk, Va., and a judge for selecting Golden Trowel recipients.

Achieving a measurement of more than twice as flat as comparable projects, EWI took home the Golden Trowel for the Unshored Metal Deck—95-foot-wide category for the 68,810-square-foot office building. The company just beat out a Silver Trowel recipient from Brazil. "This award represents the best in the world in 2008 for this category," says Rogers. "The 95-foot-wide placement makes this result even more impressive, as it is harder to achieve higher numbers with large pours."

Group effort

Although EWI has been in business since 2004, Wayne has been in the construction and concrete industries for 30 years. Prior to starting EWI, Wayne owned another concrete company for nearly 20 years. He knows what it takes to successfully complete a project: dedicated employees, reliable equipment, and a commitment to excellence from all companies involved in the project.

Although EWI won the Golden Trowel, Wayne is quick to share the credit with other parties involved. "It took a series of different companies to win this award, from general contractor Rogers Builders to the contractors pumping the lightweight aggregate concrete to the deck," says Wayne. "In all, it was a five company team that pulled off this level of quality."

Equipment suppliers even pitched in to help ensure the concrete pours went smoothly. EWI purchased two new ride-on trowels from Wacker Neuson, Menomonee Falls, Wis., just prior to the Charlotte project—one specifically to finish the flatwork at the office building. Kevin Burris, metro jobsite specialist for Wacker Neuson, was at the office building jobsite for a majority of the nighttime concrete pours. Burris reviewed the new trowels' features with the operators and ensured things went smoothly with the pour. "My day started at 1 a.m. and finished around 1 p.m.," he says. "I wanted to be there to support EWI's crew in case I was needed."

"Finishing 10,000 square feet of concrete with new equipment can make you a little apprehensive," says Wayne. "But Kevin and Wacker Neuson were right there to help out and make sure everything went right with the trowels." In all, two CRT 48-35V and two CRT 36-25 model trowels were used on the 68,810-square-foot structure.

In the past, EWI has used a variety of ride-on trowels, but today the company has begun to standardize on the make and models. "My guys have been on every type of machine, and they love the Wacker Neuson trowel. It's easy to steer and operate," says Wayne.

The Golden Trowel Award

Recognized today as the ACI, ASTM, and CSA standard for specification and measurement of concrete floor profiles, the F-Number System was developed by The Face Companies in the 1970s and 1980s. The company manufactures the Dipstick Profiler, the instrument used for measuring both the flatness (FF) and levelness (FL) of floors, pavements and bridges.

When the F-Number System was first developed, "the industry did not have a system to recognize contractors achieving high levels of flatness and levelness for concrete flatwork," says Rogers. Development of the F-Number System and its adoption for specification measurement gave the concrete industry a way to fairly and objectively compare projects completed worldwide.

In 1989, The Face Companies started the Golden Trowel Award program to recognize outstanding achievement in concrete flatwork. Today, the awards are handed out in conjunction with the concrete industry's flagship tradeshow, World of Concrete. Flatwork projects completed from Sept. 1 through Aug. 31 of the preceding year are considered for the current year's award program. A total of 94 contractors from six countries have claimed 226 Golden Trowels throughout the program's 20-year history. CC

Rick Zettler is president of Z-Comm, a company specializing in construction and aggregate equipment marketing, public relations and freelance writing. He can be reached at 319-265-0052 or