Three more men joined the ranks of the prestigious Decorative Concrete Hall of Fame established in 2010 by Professional Trade Publications, parent company of Concrete Decor magazine. Chris Sullivan and Michael Murray will be inducted and presented plaques at a dinner Sept. 29 at the Concrete Decor Show in Indianapolis. Michael Eastergard was inducted posthumously following his untimely passing earlier this year.
The Decorative Concrete Hall of Fame recognizes individuals and companies whose contributions have impacted the future of decorative concrete, both as a business and an art form. Since the Hall of Fame’s inception, 27 individuals and one company have been bestowed this honor for unselfishly giving their time, energies, loyalty and resources to help the decorative concrete industry grow.
The new inductees were chosen by Hall of Fame members.
Chris Sullivan, 46, says he got into decorative concrete “by accident, to be honest.” When he was in college in the ’90s at the University of Pittsburgh, from which he graduated with a degree in chemistry, he got an internship with Bayer where he was slotted into its pigment division. “Most people associate Bayer with health products but the company is also huge in coatings, colorants and pigments,” among other things, he says.
He worked for Bayer’s pigment division for about five years before transferring to the company’s Los Angeles location, where he specialized in polyurethane for three years. “That’s where I got the experience with sealers and coatings that folded over nicely into the concrete side of things,” Sullivan says.
In 2001, he took a job with QC Construction Products where he spent nine years as its national sales manager. In 2009, he bought into ChemSystems Inc., a Texas corporation and specialty manufacturer of Helix Color Systems, a premium line of decorative concrete admixtures, colorants and sealers. Today he remains a co-owner and the company’s vice president of sales and marketing. “I’ve been in sales my entire career,” Sullivan says. At ChemSystems, he also manages product development, with an emphasis on troubleshooting and technical issues.
Sullivan has been a presenter at the World of Concrete for the past 12 years and at the Concrete Decor Show since its inception six years ago. In addition to answering hundreds of questions a year that he receives through direct emails and various social media groups, Sullivan also has been a columnist for Concrete Decor since 2009, a technical writer and expert for Concrete Network since 2008, and a contributor to a host of trade publications where he often offers advice on how to solve common installation problems.
Through Concrete Network, he’s published a series of four online books covering popular trends in stamping, staining, overlays and polishing. He’s currently working on a book on trends in precast and concrete countertops and another on understanding, selecting and troubleshooting sealers. “My specialty is troubleshooting and my area of expertise is sealers and coatings. That’s what I’m known for,” he says. “I also write about successful business strategies based around products and technology that are trending.”
Sullivan is very active in both the American Concrete Institute and the American Society of Concrete Contractors where he’s a member of its Decorative Concrete Council board. He’s also a member of the Concrete Promotion Group of Greater Kansas City.
In his spare time, Sullivan engages in endurance sports such as triathlons, distant running and biking, mountain biking and skiing. “I’m very much an outdoorsman,” he says.
Sullivan and his family have lived in Denver, Colorado, since 1996, except for the three years they spent in Los Angeles. He and his wife, Vicki, have three children: Connor, 17; Brady, 14; and Amelia, 12.
Mike Murray, 67, began his career as a concrete finisher in 1964. In 1979 he opened Murray Concrete, a concrete contracting company in the Kansas City, Missouri, area. Later, he began installing stamped concrete, which led him to open Murray Decorative Concrete Supply with his wife, Donna. They sold Murray Concrete to their son, got into stamping and coloring concrete, and then opened Murray Decorative Concrete Supply in Bella Vista, Arkansas. During the years that Murray was a decorative concrete supplier, he was the only supplier holding ACI Flatwork Field Grade I & Special Inspector certifications.
One evening in 2011, conversation turned to a friend who was receiving treatment for breast cancer. “I said, ‘Well, making pink concrete couldn't be that hard,’ so I began to think about what we could we do to raise awareness,” Murray says. “When Concrete Cares did our first project about 40 concrete finishers shows up to pour about 16 yards of concrete for a floor with a pink ribbon logo at a placed called Hope Lodge that provides free lodging for cancer patients.”
In July 2014 the Murrays opened a consulting firm offering concrete basics workshops and training for ACI Flatwork exams. The couple passed the Murray Decorative Concrete Supply torch to ChemSystems Holdings, and began turning much of their attention to Concrete Cares (www.concretecares.org), a foundation dedicated to starting programs in local communities to help individuals and their families who are experiencing a cancer diagnosis. “I’m still going to work with concrete until I die but I want to do it for Concrete Cares,” he says.
To date Concrete Cares has completed projects in Nebraska, New Mexico, Arizona, South Dakota, North Carolina, Nevada, Kansas and Missouri, and Murray hopes to expand to all 50 states. The organization’s work in Nebraska has raised about $20,000 to help cancer patients. The organization also works with ready-mix suppliers to display Concrete Cares’ pink trucks at events.
“Concrete Cares was not founded to make money,” he says. “We wish to get students and groups such as Boy and Girl Scouts involved. We also hope some communities can leave behind concrete projects that can be seen, walked on and driven on daily. We want funds raised in one area to stay in that area for local needs.”
Murray was elected an American Concrete Institute fellow in 2012. He is a voting member of ACI committees 304 – Measuring, Mixing, Transporting and Placing Concrete; 308 – Curing; 310 – Decorative Concrete; C601-D Decorative Concrete Finisher and C640 – Craftsmen Certification. “We want to raise the bar on residential and decorative concrete so that it not only looks pretty but withstands durability issues,” Murray says. “I still feel I’ve got a lot of good years in me and we want to reach the guys on the a smaller level or who may be just starting out to make sure they’re doing quality concrete.”
Murray is an educator for a new tool called the Super Air Meter (SAM, www.superairmeter.com) that distinguishes air void analysis in the field. The tool was developed by Oklahoma State University and measures both the air void spacing and air volume of plastic (fresh) concrete in about 10 minutes.
Concrete Decor magazine was saddened to learn of the sudden passing of Michael Eastergard in March 2015. He passed away much too young at the age of 42, in his home in Augusta, Georgia. Though he accomplished much in his career both before and after he began working with concrete, there was still much he wanted to do.
Eastergard was born in Greenville, South Carolina, but lived in Bluffton, South Carolina before moving to Evans, Georgia, a suburb of Augusta. In 2000, he established Carefree Pools and Spa in Evans, offering service and maintenance for pools and spas over a wide area of northeastern Georgia. He became a lead architect on numerous high-end pool designs.
In 2007 Eastergard established a company called PreiTech, also located in Evans. As CEO, owner and innovator at PreiTech, he developed a new foundation for creating concrete countertops. As he previously stated, “The market for concrete countertops has grown dramatically in recent years and savvy contractors are broadening their skills to address the growing demand for them. However, many have found these projects to be challenging for two main reasons. First, creating the wood forms needed to produce creative shapes and smooth finish involves some fairly sophisticated carpentry skills that may be beyond the reach of some contractors. Second, because it’s a time-intensive process, the labor costs are high, as is the cost of base materials like melamine, making it difficult to keep costs down and still make a profit.”
PreiTech’s concrete countertop molds, forms and textured liners made this process easier, and helped contractors work more efficiently and increase their bottom line. Eastergard used the AutoCAD drawings direct from the project’s architect to create the countertop molds, so that the precise design was implemented. For the design team, that meant no corners would be cut or plans altered by subs to reduce detail.
In 2005, Eastergard began to explore the prospects of integrating concrete with plastics and expanded polystyrene through EPS forms coated with polyester. If properly assembled, the system produced a “polish-free,” glass-smooth surface when the mold was removed. Labor was reduced by 80 percent while the quality of the finished product was superior to product poured on Melamine or any “white plastic” surface. Eastergard’s innovations also included both reusable and non-reusable custom sink molds which were used worldwide.
Prior to his death, Eastergard filed four patent applications on new processes and products for the concrete countertop industry and introduced products from two of those applications. He was able to set up a network of more than 120 distributors across the globe.
Eastergard was active in training a new generation of concrete artisans through his tireless work in the American Society of Concrete Contractors. The ASCC will carry on the legacy of Michael “Mike” Eastergard while providing a scholarship through the Concrete Industry Management program, which has been established in his honor. To donate, send a check to ASCC at 2025 S Brentwood Blvd., Suite 105, St. Louis, MO 63144, made out to ASCC Education, Research & Development Foundation. Write Mike Eastergard in the subject line.