Rural Saskatchewan has many individuals with entrepreneurial skills, and Tony and Bonnie Rudolph of rural Rosthern are among these gifted people.
Garden Party Concrete was established 11 years ago when the couple weighed the options of diversifying their farm. A portion of the 70-year-old barn that once operated as a dairy facility was converted into a 4,000-square-foot working space used to manufacture decorative concrete garden accessories.
The idea of creating stepping stones was an adventure that evolved into a home-based business, said Bonnie.
The concrete is made according to Bonnie s perfected recipe. Bagged cement is mixed with a pre-measured amount of water, cement gravel, fibreglass mesh, dyes and additives to produce quality concrete. The ingredients are measured into an industrial mixer for blending. The fibreglass mesh is used to bind the concrete and additives are used to produce a smooth finish. The concrete is dyed to provide a consistent colour throughout the entire piece. If the stone should be dropped and a piece chipped out, it would not be as noticeable as if the surface had only been painted. Another option with the dye is to create tree wells and stones to match the colour theme of any garden or yard.
Bonnie is proud that over the years she has developed a recipe to produce a more durable form of concrete it s not unbreakable, just more durable.
Once the concrete is mixed, it is poured into moulds and placed on the vibrating table which gently shakes it, allowing the air bubbles to rise to the surface (which will actually be the bottom of the stone), leaving a smooth top when finished. The dyed concrete will set in the mould for three days before it is removed and set to cure for another 15 to 20 days.
Humidity plays an important role in the curing process, says Bonnie. The higher the humidity, the longer the curing process takes. Large oscillating fans assist with air circulation.
All the products are reinforced and Prairie-weather durable. The paint used is designed specifically for concrete and a sealer is used to enhance the product.
Garden Party Concrete stock consists of hundreds of moulds of various sizes and designs and memorial stones and benches continue to be popular items. Although the business began with production of decorative, patio and personalized stones it has since expanded to include lawn and garden concrete items, some of which are accentuated with wrought iron.
Bonnie and Tony work effectively as a team mixing, pouring and painting. They continue to attend shows across Canada, hauling 6,000 pounds of concrete and 2,000 pounds of iron per show.
The business has gone beyond our expectations, says Bonnie, and the biggest challenge lies within keeping the products new and interesting.
Garden Party Concrete is a unique business that displays great pride in promoting rural Saskatchewan. Bonnie even designed a stepping stone mould to celebrate the Prairies.
People have been very supportive and appreciative of the work that goes into making a quality product that is durable, long lasting and capable of withstanding the elements of Prairie weather.
Bonnie or Tony Rudolph can be reached at 1-306-232- 4770 or go online to www.gardenpartyconcrete.com to view their catalogue.