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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