the first time a boss told him he was going to learn to stain a concrete floor. He wasn't impressed. "Whatever, dude, just pay me my hourly wage."
In his days of floor maintenance, Grant, who describes his socio-economic background as "mutt," lived a less-than-healthy lifestyle. He was young, lacked ambition, and his limited visions of the future didn't include concrete. He was just a guy at a janitorial service, cleaning floors.
But as Grant grew up, his goals evolved, too. His company, Floor Seasons, is a leader in concrete staining in the Las Vegas area, one of the hottest construction markets in the country. Floor Seasons is committed to staining — and nothing but staining. Grant sticks with staining because he can take ever-larger creative challenges without getting in over his head. "If I am going to take a risk, it is with something I know," he says. "If I am going to push the envelope, I'm going to do it with staining."
He also appreciates what staining does for the customer as compared to alternatives such as stamping and epoxy coatings — it's less expensive and easy to maintain.
The company specializes in multicolor designs on interior and exterior surfaces in homes, restaurants and retail establishments. Floor Seasons employs five people, including Grant's brother, Jon Belger, who has taken the lead on most of the hands-on work while Grant runs the business and manages quality control. Their work features detailed designs with high-definition lines, including flames, tropical birds, rolling dice (this is Vegas, after all) and Grant's signature, ivy.
Many designs, like the ivy, are cut freehand with an angle grinder. Grant uses the Dewalt 4-inch XP Extended Performance wet/dry diamond blade, which for his money is "the baddest blade on the planet."
For color, he uses Scofield and Kemiko chemical stains almost exclusively. Plastic board is used to prevent bleed, or in some designs one color is put down and sealed before the next is applied. Customers approve colors before the sealer goes down — it's in the contract.
Grant has found the local Yellow Pages to be the most effective form of marketing. Second is word-of-mouth, which requires keeping a clean record with the local contractors' board and a good reputation with builders and contractors. The company, whose slogan is "Art You Can Walk On," maintains a Web site (www.floorseasons.com) with photos that help customers understand the nature of acid staining.
Grant also offers instructional DVD's through his Web site. He bought the video production equipment to make his own series because he felt the market needed a comprehensive set of DVD's that show every detail of the job. His series demonstrates a wide range of techniques, covering every step of the process.
The company received some publicity and a real shot of pride when it was selected to showcase its work in the Artistry in Concrete section at the 2005 World of Concrete. A starring role at WOC, and right in his hometown, led to some media attention and free advertising. More important to Grant was the honor of being chosen as a demonstrator.
The company is growing with the regional market, having recently nailed a contract involving a 1,000-unit subdivision in Kingman, Ariz., a town about 90 miles from Las Vegas that is fast becoming a commuter town.
This contract should keep the company busy for a couple of years. When purchasing a custom home in the unit, buyers will select one of five design packages for garage floor, walks and patios — and the same buyers have the option of selecting interior concrete work as well. Grant plans to double the size of his crew this summer and personally train each worker.
This bonanza came together in the company's fifth year. Grant attributes Floor Seasons' success to simple hard work, integrity, creativity, and the product itself. And it really helps to marry well, he adds. His wife, Julie Grant, who thought up the name of the company in the middle of the night in 2001, does the books and gets a lot of the credit for Grant taking his floor-stripping skills to a higher level.
But the janitorial skills were not for nothing. Preparation is a key part of the job, and Grant's years of stripping floors made him an expert at prep. He can also speak like a pro when teaching clients how to maintain their newly stained floors.
Grant said he and his crew enjoy the residential jobs as much or more than the big commercial jobs that receive public attention. "It doesn't have to be a high profile job" to be important, he says. "It could be Joe Schmo who wants his grandchildren's names in his floor — we're stoked for him."