Never give up, even when something goes wrong. Deal with it, fix it, and move on.
In his early career days, Jeremy Rowe started in the financial services business where he had four different insurance agencies until he left the industry in 2009. He decided it was time for a new career path and after a six month break, he chose to go into flooring. He had enjoyed doing this kind of work around the house for his wife, and he knew he wanted to work with his hands.
Along with a business partner, they started Viking Concrete Floors in 2010. Today, the company has 11 employees and three business partners.
Viking Concrete Floors has done close to 2 million square feet of installations, covering a 225-mile radius in most of Louisiana, and parts of Texas, Mississippi, and Alabama. They are the number one buyer of epoxy from their manufacturing company, H&C. The company has more experience than anyone else in this area, and it brings in over a million in revenue annually.
In Jeremy Rowe’s free time, this father of three likes to go skiing, fishing, and hunting.
Where did the idea for Viking Concrete Floors come from?
It was just me trying to figure out what I wanted to do once I got out of the financial services business. I wanted to do something where I wasn’t stuck in an office all day, and I wanted to work with my hands. It was just one of those things where you’re sitting around for six months trying to pick out what you want to do, and after thinking about some past experiences, I realized that doing stained concrete flooring was something that I enjoyed doing. So I partnered up with a guy, and we just started doing it.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
There’s no such thing as a typical day for me. We might be working four hours one day and 14 the next. It’s just whatever is on the agenda that has to get done, regardless of what the time frame is. We don’t have a nine to five job. We start at 8 a.m. and work until the job is done, so there are days where we’ll be working past midnight and then there are days that we finish early and get off work by lunchtime. It just depends on the workload because we’ll work on as many as four to five installations a week. It depends on what the scope of each installation is, and then occasionally, we’ll get a large commercial job where it might be 50,000 square feet, and we’ll be working there day and night until it’s complete.
How do you bring ideas to life?
If we have an idea for something new, we’ll advertise it, find somebody interested in doing it and do it. If it doesn’t come out right the first time, we’ll redo it. If it doesn’t come out right the second time, we’ll redo it a third time.
What’s one trend that excites you?
About five or six years ago, a new product came out on the market called Metallica Proxy. It’s a proxy developed to simulate stain and concrete. Since then we’ve done more of it than anybody I know. However, now it’s gotten to the point where we would like to do all these other floors and not just Metallica Proxy so we’ve been trying to train the sales crew to sell other stuff.
One newer trend is an outdoor coating you put around poles or anywhere you might be walking on the concrete outside where it gets hot in the summer. It says it lowers the temperature of the concrete by about 20 degrees, but if you have a temperature gun and compare a coated and uncoated area when it’s hot out, you’ll see a difference of around 40 degrees.
Another is these rubber coatings that are great for outdoors or gyms because they’re non-slip.
We also have a broadcast-type coating where we broadcast quartz, mica, or even wood chips into the epoxy and then we put a clear coat on top of it. I think mica is my favorite installation out of all of the floors we offer. It has this unique look that people have never seen before.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
We don’t slow down. We keep working until we’re finished. I haven’t had lunch in about a decade. If we stopped for lunch, we’d get sleepy and then we wouldn’t get our day finished.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would tell a younger Jeremy Rowe to never get into the financial services business. I’d tell him to start saving and investing earlier in life.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I don’t believe that every person should grow up and go to college. College is great for many people but it is also not right for everyone. I believe people should pursue their passions and learn how to make a career out of that. Many passions are just not supported by a collegiate atmosphere and without a scholarship, can potentially be a flat-out waste of time and money. My oldest daughter is in medical school, and she absolutely needs college to pursue her passion. My passion is my business and college would have been a hindrance for me as an entrepreneur.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
We take a piece of every dollar we make and invest it into stocks and real estate. You can do that no matter what your industry is. I recommend people do this so that they’re not forced to live paycheck to paycheck, as most people do.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Never giving up, even when something goes wrong. Deal with it, fix it, and move on. It always seems to work itself out in the end. Every business has plenty of growing pains and struggles, and you’ve just got to persevere.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
When we first got into this industry, we lacked some necessary education. Whenever you first start a business like this, you don’t know the right tools or have the money for the big equipment, and so forth. We just started doing stained concrete, but that only makes up a tiny percentage of the business. Most of the stuff is epoxy.
So in the beginning, floor prep was a significant issue. We learned that what many contractors do to prep the concrete for a coating is to use a floor sander, called a swing-machine, to sand the concrete and abrade it so the coating sticks better and becomes permanent. That was how our manufacturer recommended prepping it. However, the problem we came across was, months down the road, the coating started flaking off because it didn’t have the proper bond.
We resolved that by purchasing the best concrete grinder in our area. Now our floor preps are flawless because we use a large, 30-inch propane grinder to take the top layer of the concrete off. The concrete pours are completely open, and the epoxy can grab onto the concrete. Ever since we purchased the bigger grinder, we haven’t had anymore flaking problems.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I’d love to be able to find people we could subcontract to do floor prep for us – We’re applicator specialists, and floor prep takes the most amount of time. I would gladly outsource the prep work because then we’d probably be able to do three times as many installs as we’re currently doing, leading to less wait times for our clients.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Frankly, most of the items or tools in our business are expensive. The only thing I can think of that I spent only $100 on is a ramp. We bought it to help get our grinders over the thresholds when entering buildings and houses. Our grinders weigh 800 to 1,000 pounds, and it’ll take three and four people pushing and pulling on it to get it to go up a three-to-four-inch ledge.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Our website has helped tremendously in allowing potential customers to find us easily. On the website, you can find our contact information, a list of services that we offer, an ongoing portfolio of our work, customer testimonials detailing the quality of our workmanship, and much, much more. Apart from that, At Viking Concrete Floors, we’re pretty old-school. We tend to rely on our hard work and experience to earn business, and keep customers happy.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason. It’s actually the book that made me start saving and investing, and I’ve given that book out to probably 25 different people.
What is your favorite quote?
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt
- Never give up!
- Stay current and educated in your field
- Invest in yourself and your company
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.