ICPI 25th Anniversary Commemorative Publication ICPI 25th Anniv Commemorative Album 0219 web - Page 15

An example of a Florida marina using light-colored pavers typical to the region. Multi-layer production machines took hold quickly in the early years of the Canadian and U.S. paver industry due to its lower expense compared to single-layer board machines. Also, multi-layer machines produced significantly more pavers in an eight-hour shift than machines initially designed to make masonry blocks and modified to make concrete pavers. In 1980, Alfons and Joseph Schmitt, owners of a large German paver manufacturing company located near Frankfurt, Germany, called Schmitt Beton bought Mr. Shultz’s manufacturing company in Lake Worth, Florida. The company moved a Hess and a Knauer multi-layer traveler machine to West Palm Beach, Florida, in 1980. The company president, Alfons Schmitt, moved from Germany to West Palm Beach to run Paver Systems. He was an energetic, naturally athletic person whose English improved from help from his English-speaking wife. The operator of the machines there was Gregory Halitov who some years later became president of Paver Systems. Florida sales accelerated due to low manufacturing costs, mostly-well draining soils with little or no freezing climate, inexpensive labor, a 12-month construction year, and a strong economy. By the early-1980s, most pavers were colored with iron oxide pigments. Pastels and white cement became vogue in Florida. They achieved cooler surfaces needed during Florida’s hot summers. Several other paver manufacturers stared in Florida in the 1980s and 1990s that propelled sales to over twice the per capita sales in the rest of the U.S. Reaching the Residential Market via Home Center Stores, Dealer Networks and Contractors One of the initial companies to sell pavers through retail home center stores in the mid-1980s was Betco Block and Products in Gainesville, VA. Betco sold them to a regional home center chain called Hechinger’s that pioneered big box hardware retailing. Many of the paver products Betco sold were manufactured by Balcon due to higher quality and lower costs as a result of German production equipment acquired in 1977. In 1987, Charles Gamarekian with Grinnell Concrete Paving Stones in New Jersey initially engaged sales to about 80 Home Depot stores in the New England, Northeast and mid-Atlantic U.S. regions. He helped engage other manufacturers in sales to Home Depot such as Pavestone in Texas, Acker Stone in California and Paver Systems in Florida. The success of paver and SRW sales was energized by Home Depot’s and Lowe’s expansion to national distribution. Dublin, Ireland-based Oldcastle acquired Betco around 1993 with the intent of replicating sales to Hechinger’s to other emerging big box store hardware retailers such as Home Depot and Lowes. In the early 1990s, Oldcastle purchased Goria Enterprises in Greensboro, NC and Adams Concrete Products in Raleigh, NC which were already supplying Lowe’s. Oldcastle then purchased Balcon in 1994 which included their first single-layer board machine in the U.S. Along similar lines, Pyramid Concrete Products in Janesville, WI, sold to Menard’s home center stores in the Midwest, now the third largest home center retailer in the U.S. I C P I C O M M E M O R AT I V E P U B L I C AT I O N • 1 3