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Home | SAN ANTONIO | Spotlight | Spotlight - Felipe Carstens, Modern Day Concrete Inc.

Spotlight - Felipe Carstens, Modern Day Concrete Inc.

image Top left–right: William Gutierrez, Mark Pardo and John Petry. Bottom left-right: Anthony Tijerina, Felipe Carstens, Enrique Carstens and Albert Goss.

SAN ANTONIO - Felipe Carstens has always been determined to be an entrepreneur, even if that meant not following in his family’s footsteps. Within five short years of working in construction, his dream came true and the president of polished and stained concrete company, Modern Day Concrete Inc., can’t wait to wake up in the morning and keep living his dream.




How were you introduced to construction?
    I do not have anyone in my family in construction. My father has an MBA, my mother has a degree in education, and my cousins, aunts and uncles are lawyers and psychiatrists. I am kind of the “black sheep” in that I’m the only one without a degree.
    I kind of veered off at a very young age. I was here in San Antonio and saw where the construction industry was heading, how busy it was, how things were popping up all over the place. In all honesty, I just started working. My dream was not necessarily to be a floor guy but to be an entrepreneur. I wanted to have a business and to make something out of myself.
    I started working for Rick Stone at Rick Stone Masonry when I was 19. I worked with him for about five years and I consider him one of my mentors. He taught me everything that I know about the trade. When I ran it by him that I wanted to do my own thing, he supported me; in fact, he gave me my first real client when I started Modern Day Concrete in 2010. The first couple of years that I was in business, I wouldn’t have made it if it weren’t for him; that’s how much work he gave me at that point. He was very important in the beginnings of this company.

Did you feel confident starting your own business?
    I felt ready because I had learned everything from Rick. I also didn’t really have any major responsibilities at the time, such as a family or kids. For me, the risk of failure was minimal; I didn’t own anything and I didn’t have anything to lose. When I started, I didn’t even really know what I was getting into! I think if I did, I would have thought about it twice before I did it, because I was so naïve. I just jumped in it and did it

What surprised you about business ownership?
    Before you have your business, you think it’s going to be a certain way. Once you start running it, you realize that there are so many moving parts and different factors that go into making a successful business. I really started learning how to run a business; it became a lot more than just a trade that we do. I learned I have to focus on how to grow the company.

How has the company evolved?

    We started off specializing in polished concrete. It was a one-man show – me – and we’ve really evolved as a company in adding different trades. Now we specialize in epoxy coatings, urethane mortars, MMAs and a broad spectrum of the flooring systems. I can say we hold more certifications than any other company in town with everything that we do. We spent a lot of time educating ourselves and making sure that what we’re doing is to the highest standard.
    That’s not to say we haven’t made mistakes. I’ll be the first one to admit that there’s definitely a learning curve to what we do. It’s extremely important that the industry itself gets more training and gets better at what we do, because there is not really a standard. Anybody with a pickup truck and a roller is a stain guy. We really pride ourselves on the fact that we have accumulated all of these certifica-tions and accreditations over the years. It’s really rewarding to us.

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned?
    I’ve learned quite a few lessons, to be honest with you. If you do the right thing, do things the right way and do good business, everything will work out right at the end. We can have issues on a daily basis, everybody does, but at the end of the day, if you have your company’s core values, no matter what happens, you’re going to be okay. That’s something that I’ve learned with time. The world’s not going to end tomorrow. If there is an issue, we will get it resolved and move on. We’ll be fine.

In addition to Rick Stone, who else has mentored you?

    There has definitely been more than one in making me who I am today. There were also two other gentleman who took the time to give me advice. Manuel Sandre is a business owner here in town, and Jimmy Roof taught me all about sales. My father, Enrique Carstens, has played a huge part in what we do. There have been so many people along the way who have helped me become the person who I am today; I can’t even name them all.

What are your plans for the company?
    Right now we are at a very exciting time, not just for me but also for San Antonio, which is going to double in population in the next 15 years. This town is booming. The opportunity is there, not just for us, but also for everybody who is trying to do something out there. It’s very exciting to be at the right place at the right time and know that the potential is there for so much more. I see other businesses and I’m really rooting for everybody here in town. San Antonio is a good place to be right now; I think everybody who does well has a bright future.
    We have big plans. The company is still fairly young and we have big dreams. My team and I are out there everyday pounding the streets like everybody else trying to make this happen. We have a lot of things on the horizon. We’re growing and figuring things out as we go. We’re really diversifying in different fields and areas. It feels good to wake up in the morning and say that, to know that you’re doing something positive, to know that you’re taking care of 22 employees. There are a lot of different levels of satisfaction that this brings, in my opinion.

How would you like to impact your industry?
    I think as an industry in San Antonio, we need to get together, make sure we have standards and keep the quality of the work that we do at a high level all the way around. I believe in better education, certification and training. I talk to different business owners – technically, my competition – and I’ve proposed that there needs to be a standard of how we do this. Hopefully in the near future, as leaders of the industry, we can come up with standards that are required for every employee that gets hired by one of our companies. After all, if you have to have a license to be a plumber or an electrician, there should be something like that for our trades to maintain quality. We should have a good standard all of the way around, not just with Modern Day Concrete.

Now that you have broken your family’s profession “mold” and entered the construction industry, have family members joined your company?
    I have family members and friends of the family working with us. My dad works with me as a sales executive and has been one of my role models. My younger brother, Chris Carstens, also works here.
    We’re definitely a family-oriented company, too, which is very important to us. I was able to put my dream team together, which includes operations manager Albert Goss, project manager/operations manager Mark Pardo and my sales manager William Guttierez. My office manager and operations, front office, and sales staff and have really been the key to our success. We have the right people, and it’s a huge thing to have the right people behind you.

How do you spend your time outside of the office?
    I spend most of my time with my wife Jennifer and our two-and-a-half year old daughter. Things have changed a little in the last couple of years but I definitely spend all of my time with them. Whenever we can, we like to travel. The baby is young so we haven’t been doing much of that lately. We play tennis and do a lot of things together.
    I really don’t do things much on my own. My wife is my best friend. I get to go home and let her know how my day was. She already knows what I’m going to complain about but she’s very supportive of me. It makes life much easier when you have somebody like that by your side.

What do you hope your legacy will be?
    At the end of the day, everything that my team and I do is not just for ourselves; we’re trying to create a better future for our families. We’re trying to build something that we can fall back on, where we can say, “I wasn’t just another number for a corporation. We really did make a difference here.”
    Subcontractor Modern Day Concrete Inc. is in San Antonio. –mjm

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Melissa Jones-Meyer dfweditor@constructionnews.net