Special to Emmaus Patch By Chrissy Cilento, Emmaus High School Senior
15 S. 2nd St. (sharing space with Pioneer Glass and Windows)
Owner Kevin Gehman
What service you provide?
We design and sell concrete countertops, bars, vanities, integrated sinks, outside kitchens, etc.
Why did you choose to locate your business in Emmaus?
Because I live in Emmaus; I love Emmaus; I grew up in Emmaus!
What inspired you to start your business?
About eight years ago I came across a concrete countertop video and ended up watching it at least three times. I fell in love with concrete because of its versatility and distinctiveness -- it’s not average and ordinary. I realized concrete isn’t just for walking on anymore. It’s a fantastic alternative to any hard surface applications -- residential, commercial, kitchen, bathroom, bars, outside, inside, upside, downside! Essentially, the only thing limiting concrete is our own imagination.
What makes your business different from the competition?
What’s different about it is that there is no competition, because concrete in and of itself is the most fantastic product. So when people ask me “How does this compare to granite?” I say it doesn’t! Really it can’t compare to granite at all. I’m here to complement [with granite and other hard surfaces], not compete. What does set concrete and my business apart from the rest is the uniqueness, the artisanship and the customization of concrete.
What is the most rewarding part of your business?
I would say when we’re bringing in people’s completed product and we install it and they see it for the first time in their kitchen or bathroom and they look at it and say “Oh wow...” I call it the “Oh wow factor!” Every time I un-mold a project it’s rewarding because I spent hours and hours fabricating, designing and planning, 20 minutes mixing the mud then pouring and then waiting... When we finally un-mold our projects we often say it’s like giving birth: we just pray for a healthy baby with 10 fingers and 10 toes, then when it comes out we all say, “It’s so beautiful!!”
What’s the hardest part of your business?
Getting people to really appreciate and understand the beauty of concrete. People aren’t aware of how much you can really do with it and what options are out there. It’s very frustrating for us to try and open people’s mind to concrete. They think I’m putting their driveway and sidewalk three feet up -- they don’t understand how warm and aesthetically pleasing concrete can be.
What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received?
Go above and beyond. Be the purple cow! Stand out and be totally different than any other business -- whether we’re talking integrity, craftsmanship of our product, whatever! Do it with excellence.
Any worst business advice?
No -- I try not to pal around with people like that. Soar with the eagles, don’t hang around with the buzzards. They don’t fly as high!
Do you have a role model or mentor for what you do?
A man named Fu-Tung Cheng started a huge concrete business out in California. I went out last year and was trained right from him. He was passionate about concrete and the timeless beauty and warmth of the product. His willingness to share, teach and train was admirable, and his creativity was ridiculous. He was very humble, too. He’s the kind of guy that I could sit down and eat wings and Subway and have a beer with -- and I did!
What do you do when you aren't working?
Hang out with the family, work on the house, be with friends, play guitar at church. It’s hard to sit still for me!
Chrissy Cilento, a senior at , plans to study journalism in college. She is a periodic contributor to Patch.