Alchemy-Spetec Blog

Kreg Thornley

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The Grout Geek Interviews Industry Legend Captain Grout!

Posted by Kreg Thornley on Jan 19, 2021 10:00:00 AM

Banner - The Grout Geek Interviews Industry Legend Captain Grout

Body - The Grout Geek Interviews Industry Legend Captain GroutEpisode 11 of The Injection Connection features a landmark conversation between retired industry legend Captain Grout (aka Paul Layman) and his number one protégé and unofficial successor, The Grout Geek (podcast host Charlie Lerman). Don't miss this info-packed discussion between these two chemical grouting heavyweights!

Listen to the episode in its entirety below, or check it out on TheInjectionConnection.com and the following platforms:

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Topics: Equipment & Accessories, All Posts, Seal Leaks, Stabilize Soil, Business Tips

John Ziebell: Thoughts on Industry Consolidation

Posted by Kreg Thornley on Jan 7, 2021 10:00:00 AM

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This article is an excerpt from Episode 10 of Alchemy-Spetec's podcast The Injection Connection, featuring Alchemy-Spetec independent rep John Ziebell. Formerly the Vice President of Operations for Deneef Construction Chemicals, Inc., John has 36 years of experience in the chemical grout industry and is currently a member of the International Concrete Repair Institute (ICRI). (If you'd rather view or listen, an audio/visual version of this excerpt is posted at the bottom of the article.)

Charlie Lerman: What do you feel about this trend where we're seeing these large, major corporations coming in and buying up companies like De Neef and Prime Resins? How do you think that's going to affect the industry?

John Ziebell: I think it's a two-edged sword. The problem, when it was just the small people, when I first started - you had De Neef, you had Avanti, 3M was still in the business. We really didn't see a lot of other grouts. Occasionally, we'd see something coming from Germany, a couple of other guys that I can't think of right now. But nobody really had any good technical data or technical support. What I mean is if you looked at a data sheet, if you put a De Neef data sheet and Avanti data sheet and a 3M data sheet side by side on comparable material, they all had different test methods. Some of them used rubber industry, ASTM rubber, test methods. Some used ASTM plastic industry test methods, etc. So, it was really hard for a customer, for an engineer or somebody to compare apples and oranges to see exactly what he was getting.

The technical support was pretty weak and sparse in those days, but you did get more personal attention as a contractor. I think with the advent of the big companies, hopefully, they will spend the time and the money to develop better technical information, better tools, better case histories, things like that to offer to the industry. But I see guys out there now who are giving technical support and sales support in the field, who really don't know anything about chemical grouts. They have a degree. They're nice looking young people. They have a - well, they don't have a catalog in their hand anymore - they have an iPhone or some kind of cell phone. But they themselves when you talk to them at society meetings and stuff, they don't really know anything about chemical grout.

Charlie: I've seen that with some of the larger companies where, I mean, they're known for great customer service. But they cover such vast lines that they don't have that intrinsic knowledge of grouting that you need on that level. So, I agree with you on that.

John: And one thing that they could never do, they could never do something you do and something that I used to do before I got old - they could never get down in a hole, get down in a manhole or go underground in their coveralls and actually show a contractor how to inject. They don't even try; they don't even want to.

Charlie: Right. I had a proud moment, and I am known for wearing like severely grouted clothes and stuff like that, kind of people even make fun of it. But I showed up at a job site in the Portland, Oregon area and it was for a manhole; and as I'm walking up, there's the two classic guys you're going to picture for going down in a manhole. They're standing there and one is handing a dollar to the other one. And I said, “What's going on here? Just handing out money?” And he goes, “No, I bet him that you're going to show up wearing a suit.” So, they thought as a manufacturer rep, I was going to come out there in a suit and try to tell them how to grout. But I was wearing my waders and everything, ready to get down in there. So, that is, I think, an important thing in the chemical grout industry - having that kind of support.

View to the video version of this excerpt...

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John Ziebell: Common Mistakes in Chemical Grouting

Posted by Kreg Thornley on Dec 17, 2020 10:00:00 AM

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This article is an excerpt from Episode 10 of Alchemy-Spetec's podcast The Injection Connection, featuring Alchemy-Spetec independent rep John Ziebell. Formerly the Vice President of Operations for Deneef Construction Chemicals, Inc., John has 36 years of experience in the chemical grout industry and is currently a member of the International Concrete Repair Institute (ICRI). (If you'd rather view or listen, an audio/visual version of this excerpt is posted at the bottom of the article.)

Charlie Lerman: What are some of the most common mistakes you see over and over again?

John Ziebell: The two biggest by far are my pet peeves and they're my number one problems for all 36 years. Number one, the contractor does not know or does not determine the thickness of the structure that he's trying to drill into to seal leaks. He puts his injection holes too close to the crack or joint and he drills at such a shallow angle that - let's just say it's a 12 inch thick wall and he's actually intersecting the crack two or three inches in.

This leads into problem two - he starts pumping the grout and as soon as he sees the milky white liquid at the surface, he stops pumping and goes to the next injection hole, the next injection packer. So, he may have filled four or five inches at best of that 12 inches. All the rest of that crack is wide open, the water is still on the reinforcing steel, corroding it. It's finding hairline cracks, it's wicking off into other areas. So, those are number one and number two above everything.

Number three, and this is mainly contractors who make this mistake. A lot of old-time contractors simply do not want to use any type of grout that requires an accelerator because they think it's like an epoxy and once they mix it up, they've only got a short period of time before it's going to gel their pump. And I have talked until I'm blue in the face about this, but they still use hydrophilics on everything. Now, if you're down in a sewer, I know you've got a lot of experience in sewers and manholes and stuff, you're okay because it's wet all the time. But boy, you get up in the kind of thing that I've done mostly through the years here in Texas where you got wet-dry cycling, and you put the hydrophilic in there? It's almost assuredly going to weep at some point in the future. So, those are really the three biggest problems. The first two are the biggest by far.

View to the video version of this excerpt...

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John Ziebell: Interesting Chemical Grouting Applications

Posted by Kreg Thornley on Dec 10, 2020 10:00:00 AM

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This article is an excerpt from Episode 10 of Alchemy-Spetec's podcast The Injection Connection, featuring Alchemy-Spetec independent rep John Ziebell. Formerly the Vice President of Operations for Deneef Construction Chemicals, Inc., John has 36 years of experience in the chemical grout industry and is currently a member of the International Concrete Repair Institute (ICRI). (If you'd rather view or listen, an audio/visual version of this excerpt is posted at the bottom of the article.)

Charlie Lerman: What are then some of the most interesting or unique type of applications have you’ve seen for chemical grouting?

John Ziebell: All of them in their own way are unique. I think some of the big semiconductor jobs in Austin that we did with injection tubes were really pretty interesting because they were challenging due to the enormity of the project and the size of some of the walls and everything. I think some of the jobs that I've worked on down in the water table in general were probably the most interesting because when you're working in the water table, it's pretty unforgiving. You either do it right or you do it wrong. And when water is squirting up six, eight feet high all around you, that kind of gets your attention. I had a job in California back in my De Neef days, in Redwood City. In California, land is so valuable that even for shopping centers they build massive parking garages underground and we had a waterproof membrane failure in one of those garages. When we drilled our injection holes, the water squirted out eight to twelve feet. So now, you’ve got a problem of: how do you even get your grout to go in? So, we had to do things that you normally don't do, like set up relief valves and actually put faucets on them to control the rate of flow so we could get water into the rest of the holes. Things like that, I remember vividly.

I remember on a job right next to that one, where a contractor was actually putting a curtain under the bottom slab in a six-story parking garage. Believe it or not he actually heaved a five-foot thick slab in the bottom of a parking garage with an expansive chemical grout. That was kind of interesting because it was so improbable that he would be able to do it. I realize chemical grout, highly expansive grout, exerts 300, 400 PSI. I understand that but still, when you think five foot of reinforced concrete? But he did it.

What else was interesting? I mean, they've all been interesting, I kind of fell in love with chemical grout that first year I was in the business. And I'm just as excited today about working on a small job as I am working on a big one.

Charlie: I share that excitement, and one of the biggest compliments I get when I talk to people is when they say that they see that I'm passionate for it. It's because I find grouting very mentally stimulating. It's a game where you get to go out there, and you know your pieces and you know how your grout works - but you can't see into that wall. So, it's figuring out what's going on in there and sometimes it's not very intuitive, but it's exciting.

John: Actually, after all these years right now, I'm working on probably the most interesting or at least the most challenging job that I've ever had. It's on a dam, a huge dam built in the 30s in central Texas on one of the Highland Lakes. And we have leaks through the joints that approach five, six hundred gallons an hour. And these joints are 30 feet in the air on an arched dam. There all kinds of problems with access, working conditions, etc. So, even after all these years, this one really has my attention.

View to the video version of this excerpt...

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Alchemy-Spetec Surface Cleaner

Posted by Kreg Thornley on Dec 8, 2020 10:00:00 AM

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Body - Alchemy-Spetec Surface CleanerWith the Covid-19 situation intensifying again as the weather gets colder, you may want to consider stocking up on Alchemy-Spetec Surface Cleaner - an essential supply for any workspace or household.

75% Isopropyl Alcohol Surface Cleaner

In addition to our hand sanitizer, Alchemy-Spetec is pleased to offer a surface cleaner to help reduce bacteria & viruses that potentially cause disease. It is an isopropyl-based formula that can be used to clean many types of surfaces. The cleaner can be applied directly to the surface or applied via a spray bottle (not included).

Applications for Surface Cleaner

  • Door handles.
  • Counter tops.
  • Grocery carts.
  • Bathrooms.

Advantages of Surface Cleaner

  • 75% isopropyl alcohol by volume, plus hydrogen peroxide.
  • Leaves no film or residue.
  • Dries quickly.
  • Sprayable for cleaning surfaces.

We are currently offering one standard packaging option:
A Case of Four 1-Gallon Jugs
(For bulk orders - please call 404-618-0438.)

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Topics: All Posts, Cleaners

John Ziebell: Advice for Young Engineers

Posted by Kreg Thornley on Dec 3, 2020 10:00:00 AM

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This article is an excerpt from Episode 10 of Alchemy-Spetec's podcast The Injection Connection, featuring Alchemy-Spetec independent rep John Ziebell. Formerly the Vice President of Operations for Deneef Construction Chemicals, Inc., John has 36 years of experience in the chemical grout industry and is currently a member of the International Concrete Repair Institute (ICRI). (If you'd rather view or listen, an audio/visual version of this excerpt is posted at the bottom of the article.)

Charlie Lerman: What are some of the pitfalls that you see for young engineers when they specify chemical grouting?

John Ziebel: That's an interesting subject because I've talked to a number of senior engineers about it and I'll use one as an example, the gentleman that's the senior structural engineer for this region for CDM Smith in Dallas. He and I were bemoaning the fact that the younger engineers, especially the millennial generation, want to conduct all of their business via the internet, email and the social media platforms. They don't want to meet anyone in person. They seem terrified if you ask them if you can stop - this is pre-pandemic - if you ask if you can stop by their office for a few minutes. It seems to just scare the hell out of them. And he told me that in tutoring the young engineers, he tells them, “If you have a job that goes south on the Friday after Thanksgiving and you need somebody out there at the job site from the manufacturer that day. If you have never met the guy, he has no idea who you are, and you call him up and say, ‘Could you come out here?’ He's going to tell you, ‘No, I'm with my family for Thanksgiving. I can come Monday.’ But if he's somebody you know and you've been down in the hole with and maybe had had lunch with or drank a beer with after work, he's very likely going to say, ‘Give me a couple hours and I'll be there.’”

So, I think the biggest pitfall is that they have no personal relationship with the technical representatives for the various products. The second pitfall is that when I have asked them if I can come see them about a job, they have often said, “Well, we'll get your information off your website.” And in my case, Alchemy-Spetec has an excellent website, very informative. But I tell them, “Well, that's true and it tells you all about the products but it doesn't tell you which product is the best for your situation.” And then they usually say, “We'll send you some pictures and you can email us your recommendation.” So, I think that the lack of personal contact and the lack of actual experience at the site with the products is probably the biggest shortfall of the young engineers today.

Charlie: I agree with you and I think they are not necessarily going at it the wrong way, it's just that they are inundated with so much information at their fingertips digitally that they assume they’ve got it all. But just because I read a book or watch a video on how to hit a home run, that doesn't mean I can go out there and hit a home run. It takes the field experience and spending some time out there and doing those things. Excellent, thank you.

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Alchemy-Spetec Hand Sanitizer

Posted by Kreg Thornley on Dec 1, 2020 10:00:00 AM
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Body - Alchemy-Spetec Hand SanitizerUnfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic is intensifying again. Please consider protecting yourself on the job and in your daily life with a steady supply of hand sanitizer. Alchemy-Spetec Hand Sanitizer is manufactured in accordance with an isopropyl-based WHO-formula. It's Made in the USA, here at our Tucker, GA headquarters. We are fully registered with the FDA as a manufacturer with a National Drug Code (NDC) of 74826-812. It is also important to note that this formula does not include gel thickening agents. It can be used with a small amount applied to the palm, or as a spray or wipe. 

Advantages

  • Easy on skin – no harsh chemicals.
  • Meets World Health Organization guidelines.
  • FDA approved. NDC 74826-812 Isopropyl Grade.
  • No gel added. Sprayable for cleaning surfaces.

Available Sizes

  • One Quart Bottles - Box of Two
  • One Gallon Jugs - Case of Four
  • 2.1 Oz Squeeze Bottle Packs
    1 Quart & 15 Empty Squeeze Bottles
    2 Gallons & 120 Empty Squeeze Bottles

(For bulk orders - call 404-618-0438.)

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Click Here to Buy Hand Sanitizer NOW

Topics: Equipment & Accessories, All Posts, Sanitizers

John Ziebell Reflects on 36 Years in the Industry

Posted by Kreg Thornley on Nov 19, 2020 10:00:00 AM

Banner - John Ziebell Reflects on 36 Years in the Industry

Body - John Ziebell Reflects on 36 Years in the IndustryOn this episode of The Injection Connection, Charlie Lerman takes over the hosting duties, welcoming Alchemy-Spetec independent rep John Ziebell. Formerly the Vice President of Operations for Deneef Construction Chemicals, Inc., John has 36 years of experience in the chemical grout industry and is currently a member of the International Concrete Repair Institute (ICRI).

Listen to the episode in its entirety below, or check it out on TheInjectionConnection.com and the following platforms:

Want info on Alchemy-Spetec products?

Download the Info-Packed Leak Seal Product Catalog!

Download the Info-Packed Geotech Product Catalog!

Topics: Repair Seawalls, Equipment & Accessories, All Posts, Lift Slabs, Seal Leaks, Stabilize Soil, Business Tips

Charlie Lerman: The Importance of Exploratory Grouting

Posted by Kreg Thornley on Nov 12, 2020 10:00:00 AM

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2. Body - Charlie Lerman - The Importance of Exploratory GroutingThis article is an excerpt from Episode 9 of Alchemy-Spetec's podcast The Injection Connection, featuring Charlie Lerman "The Grout Geek". Charlie is Director of Technical Services - Leak Seal® Division at Alchemy-Spetec. The Injection Connection is hosted by Jim Spiegel: Vice President of Alchemy-Spetec and Board Member at the International Concrete Repair Institute. (If you'd rather listen, an audio version of this excerpt is posted at the bottom of the article.)

Jim Spiegel: I always say to people is you should account for some exploration time. Everybody wants to go quick into, "What are the coverage rates, how many linear feet can I do in a day, how many people do I need, what’s the size of the crew, how many man hours as a prevailing wage." But I like to tell people let’s put half a day, even up to a full day depending on the job, into exploration. Would you agree with that?

Charlie Lerman: 100%. Exploratory grouting is the way to go. And on smaller jobs a lot of times, that’s going to knock out the whole job anyway. But when you get to those larger jobs for curtain grouting and crack injection, just having that day to look at and say, “These are the parameters. We think we’re going to be between this and this mark and by this procedure.” You go out there and you find - well, did I fall in that, where did I fall in that and if so, how are we going to adjust out the rest of the job now that we know some specifics there? But until you get out there, it’s really all theory. I’m in tons of meetings where there’s all this theory crafting and people talk about this stuff. And while this theory crafting is great and we need to do it to wrap our heads around the situation, it comes down to it when you’re actually injecting, you don’t have precise control over your liquid, you don’t know exactly where it went. You can only see the result and make assumptions. Whatever I pictured in my mind is what I can say happened in there, but until we rip that open, which almost never happens, you don’t know exactly how it went inside. So again, all that theory and stuff, that’s all great to talk about. But until you put the wheels on the road and see what happens, you just don’t know. I’ve seen stuff where you just start scratching your head - how could this be going that way? But it does and you figure it out and work through it.

Listen to the audio version of this excerpt...

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Charlie Lerman: Leak Seal Pump Systems

Posted by Kreg Thornley on Oct 29, 2020 10:00:00 AM

1. Banner - Charlie Lerman - Leak Seal Pump Systems

2. Body - Charlie Lerman - Leak Seal Pump SystemsThis article is an excerpt from Episode 9 of Alchemy-Spetec's podcast The Injection Connection, featuring Charlie Lerman "The Grout Geek". Charlie is Director of Technical Services - Leak Seal® Division at Alchemy-Spetec. The Injection Connection is hosted by Jim Spiegel: Vice President of Alchemy-Spetec and Board Member at the International Concrete Repair Institute. (If you'd rather listen, an audio version of this excerpt is posted at the bottom of the article.)

Jim Spiegel: What’s some of your favorite equipment to work with? Favorite pumping systems?

Charlie Lerman: I’ve always been a fan of the airless paint sprayers (a.k.a. modified electric injection pumps). They’re just a good workhorse and have been the industry standard. So I like those and that’s what I used most of my career. I’m dealing a lot more now with acrylate type products. And I do really like the pumps that we use for those, the plural component stainless steel pumps. Finally, I’ve seen some that are not difficult to use, which is nice to find one that’s easy. It’s still a complex machine but it’s broken down and very easy. I’d say that’s one of them that’s coming up right now. But still, it’s hard to just go away from that old reliable Graco or a Titan 440.

Jim: Yeah, for sure. It’s pretty much the status quo out there.

Charlie: But Jim, let me add - to jump on the other side of that, and we offer these pumps, it’s not like I’m badmouthing a competitor or something like that but there’s the drill pumps. And while they have their place these little drill pumps, I believe that they actually are hard for contractors because a lot of the people that look at getting the drill pumps are first-time grout users and they’re trying to save some money. So they’re getting a drill pump rather than an airless paint sprayer to save a couple hundred dollars there. The problem is that using that drill pump takes a little more technical expertise. So if it’s your first job, that’s not always the good pump to cut your teeth on. It’s got it’s good position and stuff like that and it’s light and it’s easy to move around but it does take a little more skill. That’s one of the pumps just kind of to watch out for.

Jim: Yeah, as you and I have been pretty open about, not everybody has the same experience with different equipment. You’ve pumped a lot more grout than probably all of us, but I have quite a bit of experience with the drill pumps. I agree with you. Probably the benefit that I see is that they’re easy to take apart. So, when there are issues with it, which can happen to any pump that you’re pumping chemical grouts with, you’re looking at seven Allen screws and you’re into the ball and spring assembly - so you’re pretty much in the guts of it with seven screws. That’s the only thing that I really like about it just from a maintenance standpoint. I agree completely that if you’re doing this a lot, you’re probably not doing yourself justice with it. Especially if you’re getting into higher volume sort of stuff. I mean, for any curtain or soil grouting it’s just not relevant. And you’re mixing a lot. You’re mixing small volumes all the time. As you know from being on site, especially on large volume applications, keeping product mixed can be a huge functional manpower issue. Because you just don’t account for all the time needed for having that guy keeping things mixed. I see the pros and cons for it. But it’s well noted that you’re not a huge fan.

Charlie: No and it’s still a great product. There is a niche for it though. And really that’s my main concern. And I think also that comes from my history because often times I’m either on giant projects and that’s where they’re demanding to have that customer service out there. And they’re not even looking at these pumps because, like you said, they’re just not high volume. And then the other times where I’m training people is a lot of times when they’re brand new. And it’s just not a great pump for someone brand new. But it’s light, it’s easy to maneuver and that is an advantage a lot of times when you’re just setting up and if you’re doing a residential area or you’re doing something small or you’re doing something that’s off the beaten path and you don’t want to have to carry a whole bunch of equipment.

Listen to the audio version of this excerpt...

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