Darrel Adamson, President of Engrave-A-Crete, refers to himself as the HPIC, head cat wrangler, chief pilot and head gopher for the company. A more accurate description would be inventor, designer, researcher, developer, businessman, thinker, planner,...and the list goes on. Darrel laughingly dismisses serious talk of his contributions to the company and the decorative concrete industry.
“Who needs me? Depends on who you ask,” Darrel says with a grin. “I still do a great deal of the research and development of the hardware, so our customers need me. So does our staff and the town. Everybody needs me! Otherwise I might go garden for a while.”
Although he sometimes assumes a carefree attitude, Darrel is quite serious when he discusses the importance of Engrave-A-Crete to others.
“I think the concept of decorative concrete engraving is valuable,” Darrel says. “I developed the idea starting in 1988, and I still think it's better to take existing concrete no matter what it is, and cut patterns into it and adapt to what you have. At Engrave-A-Crete, we're offering people the ability to go out and make a living, and I think we're quite legitimate at that. We offer them the tools, they go out there and work with them, and they earn a good living. I've seen customers with no money, not two nickels to rub together, manage to buy some equipment and do well for themselves and their families. That's really important. It changes people's lives.”
Darrel has built the Engrave-A-Crete company and his entire life on the concept of integrity.
“Integrity is important,” Darrel says. “Doing things like giving back the money if somebody overpays you, or charging a fair price. Sometimes a fair price can be more in your favor, but as long as the customer agrees to it and thinks he got a good deal and you've provided a good quality piece of equipment, then that's okay. It's a matter of treating people fairly whether they know it's happening or not, even if they don't deserve it.” Darrel's experiences in life have had a big impact on his success. After graduating from what Darrel describes as an “extremely boring” stint in high school, he went on to aviation school and then the Army.
“I went to get my Airframe and Power Plant Mechanics license, then I was drafted into the Army,” Darrel says. “I was a flight engineer assigned to a fixed wing aircraft that wasn't used much. I was designing machines even in high school and I kept it up while I waited around with the planes. I also read every nonfiction book in the library there and even had some shipped in. I read about people who were successful, and I studied what worked for them. I'm still continuing my education. That's the way I justify my Amazon account and my library; by saying I didn't go to college, so this is my education.”
On returning home, Darrel worked as an apprentice carpenter and a commercial construction superintendent, then went on to own and operate the largest commercial concrete sawing and drilling business in the four-state region of Montana, Wyoming and the Dakotas. In a word, it was interesting.
“Concrete sawing and drilling was an interesting business and I got access to places that normally nobody would have access to—deep in the bowels of hydroelectric dams or tops of tall buildings,” Darrel says. “Once I was helicoptered to the side of a mountain where the copter kind of hovered while I cut a hole in a flume to direct water to the power plant. That was interesting. Another time I was on a scaffold four stories up leaning over traffic while cutting concrete above my head. That was interesting, too. And I've sawed a bridge over a railroad switch yard without dropping concrete on the trains and people below, sawed a bridge out from under I90, and the bents out from under an active railroad. It was all interesting. Tough damn work and sometimes as cold as hell. One day we were working on the river at 36 below zero, but we had to get it done. And then I sold my great business in Blue Sky Country and moved to Florida. I started doing epoxy bond pebble and overlays. Because I had experience in sawing, drilling and decorative concrete, I got the idea to make tools that would engrave concrete. I started tinkering more and more with equipment and little by little we progressed. Everything I learned led to learning something else. We still operate like that. We do stuff around here because I say, 'Look what we might discover along the way.' We discover lots of things on the way to our destination, which leads us to another destination.”
Over the past years, Darrel has continually worked to produce better, faster and more innovative methods and machinery to accomplish spectacular decorative concrete engraving. He holds five patents and numerous copyrights and trademarks. Even though he's busy with the company and helping the community where he lives by serving as president of the local chamber of commerce, Darrel enjoys some free time.
“I like messing around the farm,” Darrel says. “I just enjoy walking out there in the woods, the meadows and pastures, and around the ponds. I enjoy gardening because when you garden and something grows, you go out there and find it and it's like finding a treasure. Like discovering gold. Wow! Look at this! You can eat this thing! It's like that with eggs, too. They're treasures! I like the sweat and toil of gardening. I could do things the easy way, but the heavier work is good for me. I don't want to be old and soft!”
Darrel is also an avid motorcyclist, and has logged more than 100,000 miles, mostly alone, on motorcycle trips throughout the US including Alaska, and in Canada and Australia.
“I really enjoy long-distance motorcycle touring. It's hard sleeping in a tent sometimes, but I have lots of fun stories. Usually I go by myself, and one of my most memorable times was when I camped in a remote area on the Magruder Trail and spent the evening watching a deer in my campsite and worrying about bears.”
When asked about the best way for people to contact him, Darrel smiled and answered, “Telepathy or ESP.” That means he won't have many people contacting him.
“Exactly,” Darrel says with a laugh. “I like traveling alone.”For those not adept at mind-to-mind communication, Darrel can be reached by calling the main Engrave-A-Crete number.