YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Since 2018, Alexander Concrete Coatings has been solidifying its reputation as a reliable provider of premium floor coatings.
Founded by Carl Alexander, alongside partners Michael and Lisa Cardona, and Sam Frazzin, the company has experienced a significant growth trajectory, expanding its operations from 48 jobs in its first year to 181 in 2019.
“It was a huge challenge starting off with people not knowing what this is,” Lisa says, referring to the coating the company sells and installs.
Lisa, who manages the company’s marketing efforts, says she has successfully leveraged social media and television commercials to increase the visibility of the company.
“Commercials are our No. 1 lead source by far. People will walk past our booth at trade shows and whisper, ‘I saw them on TV,’ ” she says.
A former teacher, Lisa joined the company and quickly began working on ways to streamline the business and market its product. Michael says her efforts have been critical to the ability of the business to attract a steady stream of clients.
“We needed her organizational skills and guidance badly,” he says with a laugh. “We grew really quickly that first year.”
With a team of seven, including the four owners, Alexander Concrete Coatings specializes in the application of high-quality coatings for garages, porches and patios.
Its service area extends a one-hour drive radius of the Mahoning Valley, a footprint that allows the company to serve a broad local customer base.
“This is a completely sealed surface. It doesn’t need to be resealed. This is a one-time investment,” Michael says.
Alexander Concrete Coatings sells and installs Penntek Industrial Coatings. The company started when Carl saw the product at a trade show in Florida in January 2018.
After realizing Penntek didn’t have a dealer in the Mahoning Valley, he decided to create a new division at his construction company, Alexander Construction Inc.
He drafted Michael and Sam, who were installing drywall at the company, to take on the new division.
“We went from a supplemental addition to the construction company to a full-fledged separate company,” Lisa says.
The properties of the coatings are notable. It is manufactured in the United States and claims to be four times stronger and 10 times more flexible than competing products and bonds to surfaces two to four times better, Michael says.
“From the top down, it stops all salt, water, dirt, and contaminants from getting down into the concrete.”
The curing process is rapid, taking 24 to 36 hours, and the product is entirely UV stable, preventing fading or discoloration over time, he says.
These characteristics have not only contributed to the growth of the company but also to the satisfaction of its customers as well.
“We’ve proven the concept of the market in the region,” Michael says.
“There are so many other companies around now,” Lisa adds. “They don’t offer a product as superior as what we offer. But they’re seeing the demand as well.”
By early 2019, Alexander Concrete Coatings added a salesperson and a few more installers.
“Sam, Lisa, and I, we’ve never done anything like this before. We’ve never run a business. I’ve never done sales before,” Michael says. “This has been step-by-step, self-taught, learning how to run a business, do marketing, do sales.”
Despite the success of the company, the Cardonas and their partners are currently grappling with a labor shortage, a common issue in today’s job market.
Their main hurdle is the recruitment of reliable installers; candidates often fail to appear for scheduled interviews.
“We could up the marketing to create more leads to justify a new salesperson and increase sales and production. But we can’t do that without people to work and install the product,” Michael says.
The Cardonas are looking to expand the workforce by two or three installers to keep pace with the increasing demand for their services.
“We always need more individuals working with us. To do the things that we want to do and grow, we definitely need more,” Lisa says.
Most installations can be completed in one day, Michael says.
First, the floor gets ground and cleaned, then installers fill in any chips or cracks before a second round of grinding.
Then they apply the coating and seal it, Michael says.
“The following morning you can walk on it, 24 hours later you can put items on it. After 36 hours you can park your car on it.”
The weather is both a blessing and a curse, the Cardonas say, as it is the main driver of the need for their services but also their main hindrance.
“Once you grind that concrete, it opens it up and if it’s humid or rainy, that gets into the concrete and once
the moisture hits a certain level we aren’t able to coat it until it’s drier,” Lisa says.
The Cardonas say they pride themselves on community involvement and contribution.
To help businesses in downtown Youngstown, the company gave away a new snowblower. Anyone who spent $25 at a downtown business could enter the drawing.
“We’ve donated thousands of dollars to the Ohio chapter of the MS Society because we have people in our company affected by MS,” Michael says.
The company also sponsors Little League teams and tries to spotlight other local businesses on its social media channels.
“We’re trying to grow so that we can give back more to our community in those ways,” Lisa says.
Long-term, Michael says he’d like to hire four to five new installers and another salesperson.
For now, the Cardonas, Frazzin and Alexander are focusing on maintaining a consistent level of service to their customers, which can be challenging in a family-business environment, Michael says.
“For me, the biggest challenge is trying to accommodate everyone as much as possible,” he says.
“We all have very different communication styles. They are 100% different,” Lisa says, though she is quick to point out the benefits of their diverse personalities.
“We are so different in our perspectives that we bring so much to the table in a good way,” she says. “You can explore avenues you might not have thought of if you all thought the same thing.”
Pictured at top: Co-owners are Sam Frazzin, Lisa Cardona, Michael Cardona and Carl Alexander.