A little knowledge goes a long way! Learn how to raise concrete in 2 days! HMI REP Sep 15, 2010 0000 LEARNING TO LIFT & LEVEL CONCRETE 36 Years of Experience in 2 Days I’ve been asked to give a 3 minute speech on the history of my companies for the introduction segment of our NEW upcoming TRAINING SEMINARS. WOW – did that request get me thinking. I laughed to myself thinking how I could probably talk “for hours” on how I got started in business or how I learned how to mudjack or what my business philosophy is and how it made me successful. I could pepper my talk with humorous stories of accidentally spraying customers with mud or water, filling toilets with mud and some not so funny stories about pushing in basement walls or filling heating ducts with mud. When if comes to giving this “3” minute speech (they will have to drag me away after 3 hours), I will probably talk about all of the above. This all leads up to this blog about how a little knowledge can lead to a lifetime business and why we are now focusing on training customers and prospects so they minimize the same beginning business struggles. A little knowledge can go a long way. Back in 1974 I knew the basics of mudjacking and it seemed simple: drill holes in concrete, mix mud with cement and water, pump the mud and cement under slabs until they lift and then patch the holes when finished. Sounds simple, right? I thought so. So with a little market research (a 2” X 5” add in the local newspaper) I started a mudjacking business. Drill holes in concrete? The pump that I bought had a 2-1/2” nozzle so that would be the size hole to drill, but how many and where? I called the pump manufacturer and ask for his recommendation and he said that he made the pumps but knew nothing about doing the work. One hole in a slab raised it but the mud did not flow enough to support it. Two holes in a small slab cracked the slab. 2-1/2” holes took forever to drill. Drilling became a time consuming part of the job. It took seeing a competitor drilling 1-1/2” holes and reducing his nozzle for us to figure out that we could drill smaller holes. We now drill 1” holes. Mix dirt with cement and water? How hard could that be? What kind of mixer should we use paddle or drum? This couldn’t be a tough decision they both mix and nobody could tell me which one was best for mudjacking. Well the drum mixer that we bought took forever to mix and didn’t blend the dirt and cement quickly. We should have purchased a paddle mixer but there was nobody to ask. Dirt is dirt right? Wrong, some dirt has clay some has sand, some has stones (big and small), some has sticks and twigs. Too much clay mixes like taffy and doesn’t pump, too much sand mixes nice but dry packs and doesn’t pump, stones get caught everywhere in the pump and cause it to break, and twigs jam up the check ball and cause problems. Again there was no one to ask what type of material works the best so we spent hours, days and months trying different materials and more hours shoveling the unusable material off our truck. Pump material under the slab until it raises? Even that sounds simple but it is not that simple. I quickly found out that bigger slabs are easier to lift than smaller slabs. Smaller slabs like sidewalk more times than not will bind with the adjacent sidewalk slab. So the joints need to be cut. We didn’t even have a saw at first and then the first saw that we bought did not have a big enough blade. Narrow sections of sidewalk sometimes will not tip back the way they should. Hole location is extremely important. Bigger slabs will raise easier but if the material is too sandy it dry packs easier on the heavier slabs. If too much material is pumped into a center hole, bigger slabs crack easier. These are all lessons that had to be learned on the job with customers watching over us. Thinking back, it is amazing that we got paid and stayed in business. Where is this all leading? As I struggled with learning the “art of mudjacking” I would often say to myself that if I ever manufactured any kind of equipment I would make sure that my customers were as well trained in the use of that equipment as possible. Well after struggling with learning mudjacking and also struggling with mudjacking pumps that were designed in the 1940’s (remember all this struggling was going on in the 1970’s), I started manufacturing the first hydraulic powered mudjacking pumps. That was over 30 years ago and I can attribute my success to training our customers on how to mudjack. This month HMI will be launching a new formalized training seminar series. Another vision fulfilled. I would encourage anyone interested in learning the mudjacking or polyurethane concrete lifting business to sign up. I promise we will deliver 36 years of experience in 2 days! Looking forward to seeing you there!