When Scott Bolster established his decorative concrete business nearly nine years ago, he was the only contractor offering that service within a 150-mile radius of his home base. “I became the go-to guy in the area for stamped concrete,” says Bolster, owner of Bolster Contract & Design, which does about a 50-50 split of residential and commercial projects.
Bolster visits potential customers armed with his computer portfolio of completed projects, and he lists his company in the category of decorative concrete and stone in phone directories. But even more effective than these basic marketing tactics are referrals from satisfied customers. “Word of mouth has been the best PR,” Bolster says. “Demand has been increasing every year.”
After meeting with customers, Bolster sketches a rendering of the concept they discussed. “I love to draw, and people need to see a visual,” he says. “It’s my biggest asset.”
Rather than maintain a crew of employees, Bolster taps a network of friends and colleagues on a subcontract basis as needed for each job. “This is the best way to keep the business going,” he says. “We’re always busy.”
Bolster had been doing flatwork for many years when he stumbled on his first decorative job. The homeowner wanted a colored, textured sidewalk. Bolster covered the fresh concrete with plastic and pushed an ordinary sidewalk form onto the surface to create a stone pattern. “After that I did some research and decided to go out and get my own sets,” he says. “Now I make custom stamps and formliners.
“One of my craziest jobs was an interior overlay over a plywood substructure,” says Bolster. The owner of a high-end home, a neurosurgeon and avid baseball fan wanted his angled entryway to feature a design that would evoke home plate. Bolster troweled down 1/4-inch overlays in the pentagon shape with a border, applied a slate texture using latex stamps, and stained the shape and border in contrasting colors. The crowning touch is a square mosaic centerpiece in an elaborate, multi-colored starburst.