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Meet Cody Carpenter of Architectural Concrete Interiors in Sunnyslope

Today we’d like to introduce you to Cody Carpenter.

Cody, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
My story begins in my early years. I was always drawn to the arts and architecture starting as early as I can remember. I must give credit to both of my parents for giving me the building blocks I have today that have helped me bring my early life interests to reality. My mother for noticing my interest and helping expose me to it, and my father for having a natural ability to create from sketch-construction. I remember my early years obsession with architecture and driving the streets with my mom looking for interesting pieces of architecture to snoop around. I must give credit for the early exposure helping develop a natural sense of design starting at an early age. After exploring the arts for a bit, I shifted into remodeling which gave me a wide range of skill sets over the years and brought me back full circle into architecture and design. After many years in the construction industry I needed a creative outlet to apply my skill set. I had been fascinated by concrete in its use for both decorative and structural capabilities and had already been toying with it in some of my work for use in countertops and water features. In 2003 that all changed when I came across a book in the interior design section at the Borders bookstore. Yes, that right an actual book store! This book was a concrete countertop book written by designer Fu Tung Cheng.

I was already falling in love with concrete at the time and was looking for a creative outlet. I was instantly drawn to this and was absolutely inspired by the book. At that point there was no turning back. I immediately began applying what guidance the book gave me. Using friends as willing Ginny pigs covering just the cost of materials. Some of my first pieces were decent. I was hooked. After 13 years of honing my skills, attending training courses, developing and playing with new concrete mixes, and simply just learning through trial and error and having the guts to take risks, I have really launched myself into something great. It’s taken a long time with lots of personal struggles with this medium, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Concrete is one of the most beautiful and versatile materials on the planet. In recent years I have begun to run some of my own training workshops under the company Plan B studios. Passing my knowledge along and constantly pressing to refine and improve mix designs and casting techniques.

I have since expanded much of my work into Steel fabrication and woodwork. I am constantly pushing to learn new material use and fabrication techniques to evolve my design and fabrication capabilities.

Has it been a smooth road?
It has been a very trying endeavor. When I started my business the construction industry and economy in Phoenix and around the USA was great. There was no lack of work or potential for growth. I started this company working out of my brothers back yard under a large covered parking structure paying him $300 a month for rent…this included utilities. Within 1 years’ time the jobs began to flow in and I needed more space and employees. I moved into my first official shop going from $300 a month to $2,500 per month. Learning the hardships of overhead and the need for additional growth in job production to offset these costs. My contacts grew as well as my work load. I soon found that I had outgrown that space and moved into a 10,000 square foot building stepping up to $6,500 per month rent payment. This was when my struggles began. Higher employee costs, electricity costs, rent, and shop improvements I soon became a complete slave to the company working 7 days a week and usually 12 hours a day or more to cover my expenses. My timing was extremely bad. As you may or may not know in late 2007 the housing market and economy began to collapse.

It wasn’t until late 2008 that I really began to feel the effects of this. I had since purchased a complete tear out remodel that I had stripped to its bones for well over market value and owned another residence that I had on the market for sale. This set into motion the single most trying part of my life to date. I was on the verge of losing everything as my business began to feel the major effects of the economy. By 2009 I had no other choice but to move out of the large shop I was in and downsize to a smaller space of 3,500 square feet with a payment of $2,500 per month. I got rid of some employees and did my best to scrape by but just could not make ends meet as the construction boom came to a halt and very few people were spending money on home improvement especially in higher end materials such as mine. My business at that time was thin and I compiled debt trying to survive through credit cards. I was forced to move out of that shop space and went full circle back to working under a small covered carport at my home and moving whatever I could fit into a storage unit. It was a hard pill to swallow but it was the only way this business and myself could weather the storm. I had to borrow money just to get my house to a barely livable situation and had to pull my other home off the market since the price had dropped about 300% in value. I tried to find the positive in this and look to the future and just kept pushing forward.

I have since slowly grown the business in a much more cautious way. I am now in a 4,500 square ft shop and paying $1,700 a month for my rent and I am located a stone’s throw away from where I live. I slowly chipped away on home improvements over the years and now my home is nearly completed. During all of this, I got married, had a baby, grown my business, sold my rental, purchased a cabin, live debt free, and have a very profitable business. I still feel the effects of the 2007 crash but have scratched and clawed my way out of it through determination. It is something that taught me a very hard lesson about growth and business decisions. I have also started a training company called Plan B studios. I have students attending from all around the world and around the USA. This will be my 4th annual event at my studio on February 17-20 with 70 attendees. Life is good again!

So, let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Architectural Concrete Interiors story. Tell us more about the business.
My company is a full-service design and fabrication company consisting of kitchen and bath renovation, concrete countertops, concrete sinks, water features, furniture, doors, and pretty much any architectural elements

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
I’m pushing to get on more of the design side of my work. I will never stop fabricating and have plans to also get back into the arts.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Matt Winquest

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