Embracing the tension between tradition and innovation is vital for the success of any family business. Few understand the importance of creativity better than Alan Barkman, second generation business owner of Barkman Concrete in Steinbach, Manitoba. Established in 1948, Barkman began by offering local plumbing solutions.
In 2008, Barkman realized that there was an opportunity to capture present and future demand by manufacturing wet cast concrete products, specifically, Rosetta Hardscapes. Rosetta is a complete line of concrete retaining walls, pavers, steps and accessories that mimic natural stone in appearance, but install quickly and easily.
As Barkman explains, “It’s bringing a product to the market that contractors and homeowners can be very creative with. We’re seeing in photo shoots and pictures that what people are doing with Rosetta is quite amazing.”
Brian Pries, general manager of Barkman, explained, “We’re always looking for new and interesting products to add to our offerings, especially our hardscapes offerings.” The way that wet cast captures color and texture, and the uniqueness of Rosetta, made the product line attractive to Barkman’s team from the beginning and has since made it a hit with Barkman customers.
By the time Barkman began considering Rosetta, the company was a full fledged dry cast operation. That meant that for Alan Barkman, getting back into wet cast was a risk. “We’ve been into high production machinery for a long time. It was a shift for us to go back to wet cast. We thought we had moved on.”
When Barkman started making Rosetta they only made one product, Outcropping, a large block system with pieces ranging from 6 inches in height (152 millimeters) to 2 feet (.6 meters) in height. Barkman also had no production line. Fehr explains, “We were doing everything manually with a crane, so we started fairly quickly and we were just doing Outcropping. Everything was fed from the bucket.”
Now, with two separate plants in strategically placed locations, Barkman is one of the largest Rosetta operations in North America, producing a wide range of Rosetta products including Belvedere, a small block retaining system inspired by old world european style, and Grand Flagstone, a slab paver that takes after its natural stone counter part.
Both of Barkman’s plants operate an SCC (self consolidating concrete) production line, with labor and operations shared with other product groups. In 2015, between the two plants, Barkman made enough product to generate almost $5 million (CAD) in Rosetta alone, a figure that continues to increase year after year.
Barkman has had success making Rosetta, and success selling it. “The key to Rosetta is that it ties in well to our offerings in our marketplace,” Pries said. Their presence in dealer yards and investment in marketing have both been vital to their success with the product line. “We offer our dealers a lot of marketing support and have a very hands on presence in their locations. And we support them with displays and we send leads to them through our website.”
Rosetta is a key part of Barkman’s plans to continually expand their current operation. As Barkman notes, “As we’ve pushed further into western Canada, Rosetta has opened up new avenues for us.”
Pries continued, “Rosetta is a really good extension of our existing product lines and gives us an offering that’s different from what other companies can offer. I like what Rosetta has done as far as product development, in bringing new products to the market. I think there’s a lot of potential to grow the Rosetta sales and our overall sales by adding to the product line.”Could your company grow by adding the Rosetta product line to your offerings? Contact Chris Hajduk by calling (231)675-0729, to find out more about what an investment in wet cast hardscapes will look like for your business.