May 13, 2019
Lessons from a hardscape guru
Featured speaker at Congress’ HardscapeLIVE provides tips to the tradeOver the past three decades, Pat McCrindle has installed more than eight million sq. ft. of pavers and “laid everything but eggs.” Now an accredited instructor with the Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute (ICPI) and the top-rated speaker at the Hardscape North America show, the New Jersey native spends most of his time sharing his hard-earned knowledge and experience with newcomers and industry veterans looking for an edge on the competition. A steadfast proponent of efficiency and professionalism, McCrindle outlined the keys to success in hardscaping.
Your quote sets you apart“Clients are pretty savvy,” McCrindle says. “Often they’ll get several quotes and they will already know the colour and shape of the pavers they want and they probably already know the manufacturer they want to use as well. But what is important is that the client understands when they are looking at the quotes they need to compare apples to apples and not apples to oranges. They need to know if the other guys are using a PVC edge restraint or are they using a troweled concrete edge restraint? Are they not using a geotextile fabric in-lieu of just putting stone on the dirt? Are they using a modified stone, or are they using a recycled blend from the crusher plant? These are all things that will distinguish the difference between a good contractor and a fly-by-night contractor. These are things that will bring the standards up and allow contractors who work hard to charge a fair price for their work.”
Use the right equipment“Familiarize yourself with the equipment that’s available,” McCrindle says. “Whether you’re doing alignments, extracting pavers, screening sand, cutting pavers, moving pavers around the job site, you need to know what tools are out there that can make your job faster and easier. For example, on the average job site, a paver will be handled seven times. By using a paver cart you can eliminate three times. So as a contractor, your competitive edge shouldn’t be your price per square foot, but rather your ability to acquire knowledge that makes your more efficient and increases the proficiency level of everyone that is doing the work. Understanding what’s available and going to presentations and shows like Landscape Ontario Congress is important. I asked the group of contractors that were here this week how many of them own a paver cart or an extractor. Out of 150 people who were in attendance, only two of the contractors raised their hands. Every contractor should be aware of those tools.”
Control the variables“With everything that we do as a contractor in the hardscaping industry, we’re fortunate in that we can control all of the variables. When it comes to base application for example, putting down the proper amount of stone to ensure that the job isn’t going to sink. For another example, say I’m working on a job that is a 1,000 sq. ft. driveway, I have to excavate, base prep, lay screening, cut, edge, tamp and clean and each task leads to the next. And so we’re fortunate that in this industry, we control every aspect and every task that goes into a job, and we control the quality of each task and how it is executed. By utilizing the right equipment and knowing how and when to use it, you can implement the proper techniques and strategies into your business and become more efficient. People often say, ‘well, I can lay 5,000 sq. ft.,’ and I think, that’s nice, but what can you actually lay, cut, edge, tamp and clean and complete in a day because that’s when you’re making money. Anyone can lay a paver; it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to lay a paver, but it does take a sufficient amount of knowledge and education to be efficient at what you do.”