The achievements at Bomanite are extensive and long-lasting, much like the concrete products the company produces. Lorie Greenspan takes an inside look at a company that has paved its own avenues of success.
The Romans knew it well: the Pantheon has stood for 1,800 years in near perfect condition, without the need for steel reinforcement. Brad Bowman knew it well, too: In the mid 1950s he patented a process known as original cast-in-place, colored, textured and imprinted architectural concrete paving. Bowman, who had studied sculpture and was a camouflage expert in World War II, called his early imprinting method “ornamented concrete,” which initially was used on the sidewalks of Carmel, Calif. Several California contractors also used the process in the 1960s.
The process was simple in concept: The V-shaped blades of a metal stamping platform imprint a pattern on fresh concrete. By using at least two stamping units, the first stamp can be removed and placed next to the second stamp to produce a continuously printed decorative pattern. The invention precipitated Bowman’s own immortality of sorts, enduring in the thousands of concrete patios, floors tables and countertops that have been built since across the country.
In 1970 Daniel Sieben, Frank Shallenberger, John Wilcox and Bowman co-founded Bomanite Corporation. Eventually Sieben, Shallenberger and Wilcox bought Bowman out and Bowman served as a part-time consultant for about three years. “Franchises were started in the 1970s as the industry developed and people saw the product,” explains Matt Casto, vice president of business development. This spurt of activity within Bomanite was prompted by a college thesis paper that sparked so much interest with the class professor he opted to put up his own seed money – the student who wrote the thesis also became involved. From its Palo Alto, Calif., offices, Bomanite Corporation began expanding its reach and experience by establishing franchises around the United States and other countries around the world. The company moved its corporate offices to Madera, Calif., in 1990 to an expanded facility to accommodate the growth in the Bomanite organization over the previous 20 years.
Today Bomanite Corporation has been the leader in the architectural concrete paving industry for almost 50 years, with a network of more than 200 specially trained and licensed contractors in more than 50 countries worldwide to service a variety of architectural concrete paving needs. This highly skilled network of concrete craftsmen alone has access to the resources and experience of literally hundreds of creative, qualified Bomanite contractors around the world, as well as manufacturing and technical support from Bomanite Corporation.
Eventually ownership changed hands again in 1989 and the company was sold to two new owners: Matt Stegemiller and Russ Ingersoll. “With the change in ownership the direction of the company changed,” explains Casto.
A concrete revolution
Among those changes was redirecting Bomanite into the manufacturing arena. “Bomanite originally was set up as a marketing franchise,” Casto relates. “In the 1980s the company switched to manufacturing and began to make tools and other products utilized in the process.” In doing this, Bomanite increased its own revenue stream while maintaining control of the products. “Also, the dynamics of the industry started to change and the competition began to grow.”
At present the company manufactures in Madera as well as Knoxville, Tenn., Dallas, Texas and Toronto. “We’re primarily a marketing business built on a systems,” Casto relates. Such an approach embodies the entire process and not just the sale of a product. “To be successful requires several products in combination and requires a contractor who knows how to put all of these together,” he stresses. “The systems approach is unique; no one markets this way. We now have 130 franchise partners across the U.S. We’ve added 25 companies last year and 50 this year and plan to add 100 in 2007.” This strategic growth has enabled Bomanite to post revenues hovering at around $20 million on its manufacturing side.
An array of products
In addition to its network of contractors, Bomanite Corporation manufactures many of the components used in the Bomanite process, producing dry shake color hardener, integral color, release agents, imprinting tools, fibers and various other products for the installation of architectural concrete paving. The company’s project installations range from auto dealerships to casinos, golf courses/country clubs to health care facilities, and restaurants to shopping centers as well as theme parks, hotel/resorts,
museums and municipalities and government, plus numerous other projects.
Its line of products includes:
• Bomanite – The original cast-in-place, colored and imprinted architectural concrete paving. This product provides the client with an imprinted pattern that has a smooth surface between the joint lines. The imprinting tools produce patterns in the surface of the concrete in much the same way as a cookie cutter cuts patterns in cookie dough. Simulates most smooth tiles, new brick and certain stone materials.
• Bomacron – A textured version of the original, this product is also cast-in-place, colored and imprinted, but provides the added dimension of texture and relief between the joint lines. Simulates a wide variety of natural materials including slate, granite, limestone, sandstone, wood and cobblestone.
Bomanite and Bomacron are both used in a wide variety of residential, commercial and municipal applications where the designer wants to upgrade plain concrete or asphalt, or alternatively, wants to reduce the cost of installing natural paving materials such as slate or granite. The following is a list of some of the typical applications:
• Bomanite Toppings Systems – A revolutionary approach to designing with architectural concrete. Comprising of Patène Artectura, a combination of several specialized processes blended to create unique concrete flooring and paving options and Micro-Top. A state-of-the-art system that utilizes a troweled-on cementitious topping that tenaciously bonds to virtually any substrate, including concrete, wood, metal, plastic or asphalt, Bomanite Toppings Systems is capable of turning any stable substrate into a prize-winning work of art at a fraction of the time and cost normally associated with elaborate forming and design work. Bomanite Toppings Systems can refurbish old, worn out surfaces and turn them into new and exciting expanses of color, pattern and texture. Bomanite’s Topping Systems can be used on interior or exterior, horizontal or vertical surfaces. New construction, where complex design and color choices require costly multiple forming and pouring phases, benefits from Bomanite Topping Systems’ inexpensive and time saving application methods. With the tight deadlines and budget constraints often faced by architects and designers, Bomanite Toppings Systems are the perfect solution.
• Bomanite Custom Polishing System – Paired with the company’s long-established color and craftsmanship, this delivers the industry’s best concrete floor finish. While the polish chemically reacts with the concrete to lock in the color, the mechanical application closes the surface to keep out contaminants. Available in finishes from satin to gloss, the Bomanite Custom Polishing System offers exceptional resistance to slipping, abrasion and impact. Finished surfaces also repel water and oil and are dust-proof. Superior to limited-life coatings, this finish doesn’t require replacement, recoating or waxing. The non-toxic, non-flammable and odorless application is environmentally friendly. And surface care is user friendly as routine cleaning will maintain luster.The patented technology of Bomanite’s Custom Polishing System delivers the industry’s best concrete floor finish. While the polish chemically reacts with the concrete to lock in the color, the mechanical application closes the surface to keep out contaminants. Lustrous in color and protected by a tight beautiful sheen, and available in finishes from satin to gloss, the Bomanite Custom Polishing System offers exceptional resistance to slipping, abrasion and impact. One of the five options available is the perfect choice for a newly designed surface or for transforming a worn, existing surface into the perfect finish. A licensed Bomanite Custom Polishing franchise partner will recommend and install the perfect, permanent finish from our collection.
• Grasscrete – A cast-in-place, monolithic, porous concrete pavement that is continuously reinforced to provide superior structural integrity. After the concrete is sufficiently hardened, the voids are filled with topsoil and grass, thus providing a free draining “pavement” with the structural capacity to handle most heavy vehicle loads. The product is great for emergency access lanes, delivery access routes, overflow parking areas, and for intermittent drainage channels to help prevent erosion.
• Precast Elements/Countertops – Imagine strength and versatility. The possibilities for creative expression with concrete are endless. Not only is concrete durable and strong, but it is the most versatile material available; it can be molded and shaped with great precision and delicacy. Imagine your personal style reflected in your countertop. Concrete can be made to complement any style of décor. Unlike traditional countertop materials, Bomanite concrete countertops can be colored, polished, stamped and stained. Objects can be embedded in it. The surface can be colored and textured to make it look of timeworn tile, evoking the feel of old world charm. It can be colored, smoothed and polished, giving the illusion of elegant, sensuous stone or hand-carved marble. Or, left without color, the countertop can be ground and polished, revealing its raw beauty to harmonize with natural materials like wood, stone, and brick. Imagine no longer. In kitchens, bathrooms or corporate boardrooms, custom concrete countertops by Bomanite create a dramatic, customized environment.
What else can you say about the superior line of Bomanite products? Well, for a company that has secured its market position, there happens to still be volumes that can be spoken about the role Bomanite, able to take a design from cradle to grave, can play in the construction industry, especially in the coveted LEED certification, The LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System® is a voluntary, consensus-based national standard for developing high-performance, sustainable buildings. As it turns out, concrete not only plays a significant role in the green building trend but it can earn architects 14 LEED points, which amounts to 15 percent of the LEED certification requirements, significant indeed.
The Romans, of course, would have been well past their certification requirements but, then again, you build something that has endured nearly two millenniums, you should get at least a little recognition. Perhaps the designs of today, using Bomanite products, will survive equally as long.
“It is a time worn product,” Casto says. “It is durable and natural and now getting a lot of attention.”