Alchemy-Spetec Blog

Get a Custom Animated Explainer Video for Your Contracting Business

Posted by Kreg Thornley on Feb 25, 2021 10:00:00 AM

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Body - Get a Custom Animated Explainer Video for Your Contracting BusinessHow to Sell Using Explainer Animations

At Alchemy Spetec, we’re successfully using animated videos to market our products and services. We can also create custom animated explainer videos specifically for YOU, our customer.

With an animated explainer video, you can:

  • Help prospects quickly understand how you will solve their problems.
  • Position your company as professional experts they can depend on.
  • Attract more requests for estimates and close more jobs.

For an example of how these explainer videos work, click on one of ours below:

Now imagine having an animated explainer video like that to explain exactly what your business does.

How to Get Started

Let's talk about how we can help. We'll explain the animation process and what it costs.

If you already have an account with Alchemy-Spetec, the next step is to call us at 404-618-0438 or click the button below to schedule phone consultation.

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Paul Layman: Favorite Types of Grout

Posted by Kreg Thornley on Feb 18, 2021 10:00:00 AM

Banner - Paul Layman - Favorite Types of Grout

Body - Paul Layman - Favorite Types of GroutThis article is an excerpt from Episode 11 of The Injection Connection, featuring a highlight from the 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). If you'd rather view or listen, an audio/visual version of this excerpt is posted at the bottom of the article.

Charlie Lerman: Do you have a personal favorite grout? Not necessarily by name, but a type of grout - hydrophilic, flexible or just anything that you like?

Paul Layman: Well, yes, the old hydrophobics. They're probably the best because you can change them around depending on the temperatures and things of that nature. You can even mix the hydrophobics and hydrophilics. We've done that in the field by mistake and, boy, they were the cat’s meow at that time, the real tickets. So, just the old standard grouts work well. And again, it goes back to the manufacturer - if you're using a small manufacturer, those are just quality products and you could do a lot to change them in the field. You feel very comfortable. So, if you got in a situation where you needed a little faster reaction, you could do it. I've been out of the business now for three or four years but again, the old grouts had a lot of flexibility and you could actually mix and match different products in ways that weren't "in the books" and you could do some pretty neat stuff with them and stop some pretty good holes. In some situations, if you're down below in a dam, it's not a bad thing that if you can't get it, walk away for a day or two and think about it, don't just sit there and waste gallon after gallon after gallon. If it's not working. There are other ways to do it.

Charlie: Right. One of the issues I've seen and I actually struggle with some is using chemical grouts in dry conditions. So, say you're down in Arizona or Southern California and they know they have a leak but it only leaks once or twice a year. Or it only leaks during a rain storm and they're typically grouting when it's dry. Do you have any suggestions on how to overcome those kind of hurdles?

Paul: Yeah, a lot of times we try to push it to the rainy season but if you can't then just you use copious amounts of water to get that structure saturated. You want that structure, the surrounding concrete, and the surface saturated really wet in there. If you're doing an irrigation, again, get that surface wet even if you have to puddle it for a while. Get that structure really wet because then the grout really adheres and chases the cracks to its maximum extent. It can really lock itself in. Because if you don't do it right, it's just going to shrink away or it's not going to bond well and then when it's really needed, it may just blow itself out or leak around and finally break down and not work. Lots of water is your friend.

Charlie: Yes, indeed. I like to give the analogy to people that, if I hired you to come into my house and paint a room - and when you showed up to paint it, I turned all the lights off and closed the doors, it was pitch black in there, you could still paint the walls but it probably is not going to look good when you turn the lights back on. And I look at it the same way with waterproofing. If the water's not there, you don't know where you're going to move that leak to or whatnot. So, adding copious amounts of water is very important.

Paul: That's very important because you may stop it here but then when the water comes up, it's going to find a hole somewhere else that you didn't grout because it wasn't wet. Yeah, absolutely.

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Paul Layman: Dealing with Failures and Challenges

Posted by Kreg Thornley on Feb 16, 2021 10:00:00 AM

Banner - Paul Layman - Dealing with Failures and Challenges

Body - Paul Layman - Dealing with Failures and ChallengesThis article is an excerpt from Episode 11 of The Injection Connection, featuring a highlight from the 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).  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's the biggest failure or problem you've had on a job?

Paul Layman: I don't know. We did that big building in San Francisco where the building is actually leaning now. And that was unique because the biggest problem there occurred when some guys were drilling in and they hit a cable. Luckily they didn't blow that cable - it was a 10,000 watt box or wattage thing and fortunately they weren't standing on the pump when they hit the cable. Those are things you've got to be careful with. And safety is incredible down there because you could be out in a mine a mile back or down a shaft and if something goes wrong, you can't get out quick and you're in the mud and muck up to your knees. On one job we were down a mile in a tunnel and one of the gates broke. It was in a dam and the water went from our boots up to our knees. Again, so, those are things you really have to be cognizant of and keep all your ducks in a row to be ready for any emergency that could come up.

Charlie: Right. Especially in confined spaces. Like you said, they offer unique challenges on top of what you normally run into anyway.

Paul: Exactly.

Charlie: What have been some of the challenges on dams and large projects like that, specifically in regard to the Corp of Engineers or the Bureau of Rec? What kind of challenges have you had personally in dealing with them?

Paul: The biggest problem I ran into with both of those organizations, was that their people sometimes overthought the project. You'd spend six to eight months getting the project ready and designing it, then all of a sudden, they say, “Oh, we can't do it this year.” Just like that big job up there in California, I can't think of the name, where the dam blew out.

Charlie: I remember what you’re talking about, but I can’t think of the name either.

Paul: It was just up there by Chico, California. We had shown them how to fix that problem a couple years before and gave them some really good ideas, but they said they couldn't afford it. And then when the whole structure blew out, the spillways blew out, they had to spend billions of dollars. If only they hadn't been so cheap in the first place and changed their mind in the last second. It's kind of frustrating because you've done all this due diligence, you lay out your scheme, then all of a sudden in the last minute they say, “Oh, no, we're not going to do it.” 

Charlie: Yes, thank you very much.

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Paul Layman: Most Interesting Grout Jobs

Posted by Kreg Thornley on Feb 4, 2021 10:00:00 AM

Banner - Paul Layman - Most Interesting Grout Jobs

Body - Paul Layman - Most Interesting Grout JobsThis article is an excerpt from Episode 11 of The Injection Connection, featuring a highlight from the 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). 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 unique and interesting jobs that you've been on?

Paul Layman: Well, we did the Hoover Dam and we did the Seattle tunnels. But on the job I did up in Canada on the water system for the city of Vancouver, we were in shafts that went down 1800 feet, 600 meters. When you get down there, it's pretty dark and cold and when the pumps go off or the electric goes off, it gets pretty dark. Those are some of the neat projects. Then of course, the projects we did up in Alaska, above the Arctic Circle. We did a huge tank up there for CH2M Hill. The tank was over a million gallons and we had to stabilize the whole bottom underneath it, over permafrost! We had to fly everything up in an airplane of course and then unload it. And the mechanics up there, the kids at work, they were just as smart as could be. They knew how that structure was going to work. And so, from Arizona, the Salt River Project down along the Colorado all the way to the Arctic Circle -  and then being in gold mines...every structure was different and neat. It was a challenge. It was fun because you met a lot of neat people and a lot of characters too. Everybody had their little niche and it was just a neat job. It really was. It wasn't work, it was every day you got a new adventure.

Charlie: A lot of times when you talk to people in the grouting industry, and maybe I'm biased because that's where I've been for the last 15 to 16 years, but they're passionate about it. They find it interesting. It's not just the standard, "I'm just going to apply a coat of this and we move on to the next tank" or something. It's always unique. You brought up some remote sites there and I found it interesting in my career where I've had engineers talk to me about a project and I'm like, “Well, that sounds like you should do cementitious grouting.” And it turns out not to be cementitious grouting just because of the remoteness. They can't get concrete out to a site or something like that. I've seen urethane jobs where just because of mobilization they had to use the chemical grout. So, it's not always the most cost effective when you compare materials but, when you need mobilization then the chemical grout comes in.

Paul: One time we had to go out to the Aleutians. And we put I think about 15, 20 pails of grout in the airplane and then we put in another 15 pails of fuel. We had to put the fuel in the airplane too because we got out on the islands and they had to get themselves back. So, we had the grout and the fuel, and the plane had to carry all of it out there.

Charlie: That is so cool.

Paul: When we got out there, the guys pull out the 15 pails of fuel and start fueling the airplane up so they can get back. They leave us with our grout there on the Aleutians. It was just neat stuff like that, along with the people you meet out there.

Charlie: Right, very much so. That's awesome.

Paul: And all the equipment we put in big trunks. What we didn't take with us we weren't going to find at the local hardware store because there were none for a thousand miles.

Charlie: That is real important and specifically there. But it's similar even when you're just a couple miles in a tunnel and just the 20 minutes to get back out to get that screwdriver your team forgot. So, it's important to make those lists and know what you need to have.

Paul: Yeah. We were doing a mine up in Alaska and the grout started getting away from us. We were down two miles in the mine but luckily, we had enough catalyst and cleaning agent that we could save the grout and the pump, because otherwise we would never have time to take it up to the entrance and fix it. We would have lost a pump and we're 100 miles, 200 miles from the closest civilization. So, we would have been toasted up there. Again, those are things you just learn after the years of doing this stuff.

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Paul Layman: Common Pitfalls for New Grouters

Posted by Kreg Thornley on Feb 2, 2021 10:00:00 AM

Banner - Paul Layman - Common Pitfalls for New Grouters

Body - Paul Layman - Common Pitfalls for New GroutersThis article is an excerpt from Episode 11 of The Injection Connection, featuring a highlight from the 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). 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 your top, maybe one, two or three common mistakes you see when people get into grouting?

Paul Layman: I think they get overambitious and say, “We can fix this and we can fix that,” or they don't have quite the right knowledge or they don't recommend the right product. Like one of the projects we were on, they were going to recommend an acrylate. And really it wouldn't have worked well for an acrylate because the way it was designed, it was about 50% water. That's probably the thing, they overthink the job too much. It's a fairly simple process but you don't want to overthink it. Just be straightforward and just take your normal steps and work from there because the products really work well and depending where you're at you can massage these products and change them in the field if you have to, but the simpler the process, the easier it is.

Charlie: Right and that's real important. Jim (Alchemy-Spetec VP Jim Spiegel) likes to use a term, he calls it fail forward. And I like that. Fail is not necessarily maybe the right exact term for grouting but there's a lot of theory crafting where people say, “Oh, well, we know in a lab the grout does this, this and this.” And then they assume that they have lab conditions out there in the field. And you don't. You have field conditions; you don't know what's out there. So, all the theory crafting you do, until you get out and actually pump some grout and see what you've got going on, it's all guesswork at that point. I think that kind of ties into what you're saying there.

Paul: Absolutely. And then you've got the mechanics in the field and you've got some smart guys in the field and when you come up on a project, they may already have figured it out. And so, listen to the people in the field because that's where I've learned a lot of my techniques. These guys in the field are smart people, they're intelligent people and they can give you some really good guidance and little tricks. Then you can pass those on. Don't be afraid to listen to them.

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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.

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Giving the Gift of Safety

Posted by Andy Powell on Dec 21, 2020 10:00:00 AM

Banner - Giving the Gift of Safety

Body - Giving the Gift of SafetyIt has become an Alchemy-Spetec annual tradition to re-post this classic holiday season safety blog I wrote a few years ago.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

This time of year, most people will spend a little extra time with their loved ones.  It is also a time to reflect on the loved ones we miss that are no longer with us.  Like most of us, I know people who have either been lost or have suffered through a loss.  In those cases there was nothing that could have been done to stop it.  However, there are things that we can do to guard against job related safety hazards.

I've been fortunate enough to spend time in an OSHA safety training class.  It was required in order to be present supervising a project at a chemical facility.  Signing in at 6 AM, I’ll admit I was not looking forward to spending all day there.  By the end of the day I was glad that I went.

In an intro video, the narrator said that every morning when you kiss your loved one goodbye before you go to work, keep in mind that someone, somewhere will not come home from work that day.  Workplace accidents are almost entirely preventable.  Investigations typically find the cause quite easily. 

The class I attended contained a dozen or so modules, each one with a video case study followed by the teaching.  Every case study module covered a different accident where people didn’t come home from work that day.  All of them could have been prevented.  I learned about fire, electrical and chemical safety; as well as confined space, ladders, scaffolds, and working in trenches.  I have worked in the construction industry since my teenage years, so it was sobering to look back and think about some of the close calls I had.

If you're a contractor or industry related business owner looking for a good investment, send your employees to one of these classes.  It’s an excellent opportunity for them to learn safety principles that can protect you, your other employees, and your business from being lost.  It’s a gift that will keep on giving.  You don’t need Christmas as a reason to do this, but in the spirit of the season, you may want to make it the reason.  

Click here to find an OSHA safety class near you.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

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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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Body - John Ziebell_Common Mistakes in Chemical Grouting

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.

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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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Body - John Ziebell_Interesting Chemical Grouting Applications

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.

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