Training is a great thing. It is vital to success in decorative concrete. But not all training is the same. Training is generally found at local retailers (construction materials supply, equipment rental, etc.), with specialized independent trainers, manufacturer sponsored events, or trade shows and events. Each kind has its own benefits.

Steve Johnson demonstrates proper stamp layout prior to stamped concrete training at a Solomon Colors/Brickform training event.

Steve Johnson demonstrates proper stamp layout prior to stamped concrete training at a Solomon Colors/Brickform training event.

Manufacturer training events offer the distinct advantage of deep knowledge. Manufacturers, like Solomon Colors and Brickform, know their individual products better than anyone else, so they can offer the greatest depth of knowledge. Furthermore, manufacturers tend to have resources not available to other trainers. Because training is not how they make money, manufacturer training programs tend to be more cost effective than other comprehensive programs.

Training event at a Brickform distributor.

Training event at a Brickform distributor.

Local training at retail locations are often manufacturer sponsored, as well. Factory representatives visit a distributor location to conduct educational demonstrations. These events have the advantage of being highly tailored to local offerings, conditions, and trends. Contractors don’t have to sit through lectures about products and tools they can’t readily purchase or techniques they won’t use. Unfortunately, these events don’t tend to be as comprehensive or in-depth as standalone training events.

Rachel Knigge-Bruce demonstrates stencils and dyes at the Solomon Colors booth at World of Concrete 2013. See Rachel at the Decorative Concrete Fair August 17 - 19, 2017!

Rachel Knigge-Bruce demonstrates stencils and dyes at the Solomon Colors booth at World of Concrete 2013. See Rachel at the Decorative Concrete Fair August 17 - 19, 2017!

Trade shows and industry events are also a good opportunity to learn. Some events are intended specifically for training and demonstrations while others just have a couple demonstrations present. Like local training events, trade show demonstrations don’t tend to offer the same depth as manufacturer training. Trade shows do, however, provide a greater variety of learning opportunities. Shows like Concrete Décor Show and the World of Concrete will have more manufactures present and conducting demonstrations. Multi-manufacturer sponsored events like the Decorative Concrete Fair are put on by multiple non-competing manufactures. This means depth approaching that of a manufacturer training while maintaining a good deal of variety.

Independent training courses are typical put on by an expert in the field or an industry organization. These courses are either standalone events or part of a larger event such as a meeting or trade show. In either case, there isn’t usually an overt connection with manufacturers. This can lead to more neutral advice but a higher cost to attend. Always make sure to check the qualifications of your independent trainer to make sure you are getting your money’s worth. But be mindful that a one-on-one or small group seminar with a big name could be costly.

The Decorative Concrete Fair aims to provide the best of training. As a manufacturer-sponsored event, attendees will get the best financial value and benefit from in-depth product knowledge. Multiple manufacturers will be present to share their products and knowledge. Finally, some of the most sought after trainers in the industry – Bob Harris, Rachel Bruce, Troy Lemon, Keefe Duhon, Rocky Geans, and more – will be conducting most of the demonstrations and discussions. The Decorative Concrete Fair is closest to an all-in-one training event you will find.