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Starting with Two
Success Can Begin Small - Technology Can Fuel It

Mike Dahl, LC/DBM


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Almost all the paved surfaces at this newly built home in Indian Hills, Ohio, a few miles northeast of Cincinnati, were installed by Two Brothers Brick Paving. This includes the travertine pool deck and an extensive driveway - both designed by RWA Architects Inc.


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For the driveway, about 10,000 sq. ft. of Unilock 'Stonehenge' brick pavers were installed in a herringbone pattern. A sailor course of 'dawn mist'-colored 'Richcliff' pavers, followed by a soldier course of the sierra-toned bricks, provided an accent to the space.


What's in a name? For a large brick paving company located in Dayton, Ohio, it is simplicity and accuracy - well it was accurate when the name came about, but not so anymore.

Financial Needs Ignite A Spark
The back story of said company goes like this: Mark Rhodus and his younger brother Greg were working for a sizeable commercial brick paving contractor, but it wasn't always year round work so going into business for themselves, even on a temporary basis, was always a possibility. Before that happened though, Mark changed careers for a couple of years - learning Internet marketing - which proved very valuable down the road.

But back to the name.

"In 2005 my brother was still working for the company and he said 'why don't we take what you know about Internet marketing and what we both know about pavers and try to get some side work,'" says Mark.

Knowing that some kind of name would be advantageous, Mark suggested to, "Just call it what it is."

And that's how Two Brothers Brick Paving came about.

Internet Marketing Is Key
At the time, by Rhodus' reckoning, they were one of the only hardscape companies in the Dayton/Columbus/Cincinnati area with a website, and certainly one of the only ones with a site that was search engine-optimized, and work started coming in at a pace that they couldn't handle on their own. So they hired subs.

But then the brothers realized that the quality of the work wasn't what they demanded, and hiring employees was a solution to that.

"When we first started, our bread and butter were small brick paver patios," Rhodus recalls.

They advertised 15'x15' patios for $3600. But these only took two days to install so keeping up a steady stream of work wasn't easy. Then the company landed a $15,000 project, the photos of which they put on their website, and started getting calls for comparable projects. Two Brothers did the same thing after completing a $50,000 job, with similar results. Ultimately they removed the "bread and butter" photos and gratefully stopped getting calls for them.

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The deck's base consisted of 6" of aggregate followed by a 4"-thick concrete pad and then a 1"-deep sand setting bed. For proper drainage, the base slopes 1/4 " per foot away from the house, and away from the pool - both leading to the ACO 'Brickslot' drains. Because of the pores in the travertine, clean, fine sand, which is easy to rinse out of the pores, was swept into the joints instead of polymeric sand. The Techniseal JS sealer applied to the pavers with a power sprayer protects the travertine from the harm that the runoff from the saltwater pool could cause.


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'Tuscan' is the shade of the travertine tiles, which came in the sizes of 8"x8", 8"x16", 16"x16" and 16"x24", and were placed in a 'French,' or random pattern for the majority of the pool deck. The pool coping, the edge of the deck and the edge of the decorative inlay are Indiana Limestone pavers. To get the interesting pattern of the inlay, 24"x24" pieces of travertine with their corners cut off were installed at a 45-degree angle from the house. In this manner, small squares were left between each paver that were filled with pieces of limestone. Mid American Pools was the pool subcontractor.


The Results
Now, according to Rhodus, the company consists of around 16 total employees including three crews of four people each, typical residential installations are $150,000 and up, and commercial work accounts for 70 percent of the jobs.

A recent large-scale job was at a newly built house in Indian Hills, which is a few miles northeast of Cincinnati. The project, which owes its design to RWA Architects Inc., included a long, curved driveway and an expansive pool deck.

The driveway was paved with over 15,000 square feet of Unilock brick in two different tones: a light warm one called sierra, which made up the herringbone-pattern, and a darker cool one known as 'dawn mist.' To prepare the base, the general contractor, Cedar Hill Custom Homes, performed the excavation, installed six inches of aggregate, and then a five-inch-thick pad of rebar-reinforced concrete.

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An inlay of the 'dawn mist' colored pavers, of which about 5,500 sq. ft. were used in total, was installed in the garage area. The drain was put in by the general contractor, Cedar Hill Custom Homes, which also handled the excavation and the installation of the aggregate base and the concrete pad for the driveway as well as the pool deck.


The landscape crew then took over from there; fastening heavy duty aluminum edging to the pad with stainless steel nails, laying down a one-inch sand setting bed, and then the pavers. SEK Surebond's PolySweep sand sealed and stabilized their joints.

Travertine was the material selected for the deck of the pool that was built by Mid American Pools. The pavers came in four different sizes and were installed in a French pattern. Indiana Limestone was used for the pool coping and for the paver borders around the deck and its decorative inlay. All of them sit on a base that is similar to that of the driveway.

For the portion of deck along the back of the house, the drainage needed to be away from the house but also away from the pool, so a slight slope from the house to a slot drain was built in, as was a slope from the pool edge to the same discreet drain. On the opposite side of the pool, the deck slopes from the pool edge to another slot drain that runs along a back wall.

All in all, an adept drainage solution for a very skillful and appealing installation.

Launching a Hardscape Maintenance Company

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(Editor's note: Following up on the article in LC/DBM's February issue - "Adding Hardscape Maintenance to Your Business" - here is a real-life example.) Perfect Paver Company was started to help solve a problem Mark Rhodus' company was having. And that was: to compete against stamped concrete on larger price point bids, Rhodus factored in the application of a sealant that would make the pavers more maintenance-free, which is a big selling point of the concrete. Trouble was, you can't seal the finished job right away so the crew would move on to the next job and then have to return later to seal the old job, which was an inefficient business practice.

So now with the new company, a separate crew is always available to seal Rhodus' project when the time comes, and works for other contractors in between. That is why a new company with a different name was warranted instead of just adding a crew to his company that only did sealing - so that other contractors did not feel that they were giving away work to a direct competitor.



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Before any of the pavers were set, Curvrite heavy duty aluminum edging was fastened to the concrete pad with a powder-actuated gun (see sidebar) and 1" steel nails. SEK Surebond's PolySweep sand was used in the driveway's joints but to drain any water that might find its way between the pavers, weep holes were first drilled in the concrete pad and filled with pea gravel. To give prominence to the roundabout design, absent what one typically finds like a fountain, which the owner did not want, Two Brothers installed a circular inlay. The finished driveway is slightly crowned so water runs off to the sides.


The Future - Parallel Expansion
And what's up next for Two Brothers? Well first of all there is presently only one brother as Greg left the company, amicably, in 2010 to pursue a career in building bridges. (Mark wants him to return to the business and is hoping that when Greg sees that desire in print, it will help convince him to do so.)

In the meantime, Mark Rhodus has started a separate entity called Perfect Paver Company that restores pavers by cleaning and sealing them.

2016 was the first year for the new company and Rhodus reports that it went well. They had to add a second crew part way through the season and are considering a third crew this season.

Also this year, Rhodus will be partnering with other contractors around the country to offer the service in their locales, and is looking for more. He says that an ideal candidate is someone in the hardscape industry so they can identify repairs that are needed, is customer oriented, and perhaps feels it is time for less strenuous work than carrying loads of pavers all day.

And further down the road, Rhodus hopes to franchise the concept, and make Two Brothers a company run by, well, two brothers again.

Old-fashioned Technology Updated for Construction

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A powder-actuated tool is used in construction to attach materials to hard surfaces, such as those made of concrete or metal. Much like a bullet being fired from a gun, the process uses a chemically created explosion to propel the fasteners, recommended to be made of special heat-treated steel, into the surfaces. With "a high-velocity" type, the explosion acts directly on the fastener. With a "low-velocity" type, the explosion acts on a piston that drives the fastener into the surfaces.






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Last Updated 11-20-17
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