About Concrete in Disguise

My name is Stephen Allphin, and I’m the President of Concrete in Disguise, LLC.  I have a degree in Computer Science and spent 20 years in the IT field, but I always enjoyed working on projects around the house. I’d spend my weekends making and fixing things to take my mind off the fact that I hated “driving a desk” all week at my job.

Concrete in Disguise, LLC came about because of a failed DIY project to make a concrete countertop for my home.

At some point, I came upon the idea of making a concrete countertop to replace the cultured marble tops in our bathroom. Luckily, I had the good sense to start by making a small table top to see how it would turn out.

The first attempt wasn’t good, and the second and third weren’t much better. It didn’t take long to realize I was in way over my head, that it wasn’t as easy as going and buying a bag of concrete, mixing it up, and pouring a countertop.

 

A Learning Process

Over the next two years I learned about concrete from trial and error, internet research, and attending classes. Most of the classes I attended reaffirmed the old saying: “Those that can, do and those that can’t, teach.”

In April of 2009, I officially formed Concrete in Disguise, LLC. I knew I still had a lot to learn, but I also knew this was something I enjoyed and was passionate about.

I was still working full time in IT but was spending my off time experimenting and, occasionally, doing an actual job.

 

One day, I happened upon the website of a company in Pennsylvania that made concrete countertops. The owner, who had been in the precast concrete business for over 20 years, had started teaching a class one weekend a month to help people learn how to make concrete countertops.

Little did I know at the time, but this guy was about to change my future.

 

Perfecting the Formula

It was October 2009 when I traveled to Pennsylvania to attend Mark Celebuski’s class. Mark was running a concrete countertop business, but it was obvious that his real passion was the chemistry of concrete.

I learned more in the two days I spent with Mark than I had in the two years prior — More importantly, I gained a friend and mentor.

Mark went on to co-found Trinic, LLC, which supplies additives and sealers for concrete countertop manufacturers. Trinic is our primary supplier.

When I attended Mark’s class in 2009, he taught me how to formulate 10K PSI concrete. Most concrete you encounter in your daily life is 3000 to 3500 PSI concrete. Today, with the help of Trinic’s products, we are producing countertops with concrete that tests over 16K PSI.

Going Professional

In 2010, I was laid-off from my IT job and made the decision to go full-time in the concrete countertop business.

The first few years were tough — The economy was in bad shape, I had never run my own business, and no one in the Dallas area had ever heard of concrete countertops, but with the support of my very understanding wife, I persevered.

In 2012, I was starting to get some work and brought on my father-in-law, Lester to help me. We were working in my garage on countertops when we had work and doing honey-dos for the wife when we didn’t.

Work slowly increased, and in the summer of 2014, I asked my neighbor, Jack, to come help us. At the end of the summer, Jack was heading off to Texas A&M and suggested I bring in his friend Justin to help. Justin was attending college at UNT, so he would be able to work part time during the school year.

 

Expanding Operations and Staff

A month later, I brought in another one of their friends Alex, who was also attending college locally. Shortly after this, Lester was diagnosed with Alzheimer's and had to stop working with us.

Justin and Alex have been with me ever since.

We spent the next two years in my garage turning out countertops for clients. Looking back, I don’t know how we got anything accomplished in the space we were working in — Half our day was spent rearranging the garage to accommodate the next task.

 

In 2016, it was becoming obvious that we couldn’t keep up in our current surroundings, so we had a shop built on our property and moved production to the shop.

Today, I have five guys working with me, including Justin and Alex. Justin graduated with his BBA in Finance from UNT in the spring of 2018. He is now the full-time Operations Manager. Alex will graduate from TWU in the Fall of 2019 and then go on to get his Doctorate in Physical Therapy.