Allan Block

Contractor News

June 14, 2017

We at Allan Block are always striving to be Always Better and bringing you, our contracting customers valuable information that can be incorporated into your business is vital to our success. Our second quarter of 2017 newsletter will strive to bring insight that will (1) help you find ways to bring value to your business by providing programs/tools to help you drive revenue and (2) provide market information to better educate on industry standards, initiatives and/or best practices to assist with installation efficiencies.

If have questions, comments or topics you would like to see addressed, please submit them HERE. We look forward to hearing from you!

In this issue: Newsletter Subscription


Allan Block apps

What's New At AB:
Retaining Wall and Courtyard Apps

Everything we do is to try and help our customers simplify the process and sell more Allan Block projects. Our recent upgrade of our Courtyard  and Retaining Walls apps are no exception. These tools are readily available for download on the Apple Store, Windows Store as well as directly off our website for use on Windows and/or Mac computer.

Each app was built to allow you to quickly and efficiently layout the project as well as create an estimate for each of your customers. By entering an email address and zip code after laying out the project you will receive a drawing showing your specific project – plan view, elevation view, relevant sections as well as color options available in your market.

We recently had the opportunity to hear a great success story from a partner in Champaign, IL. Patrick Cleary with Illinois Brick Company used the Retaining Wall App to help sell Phase 1 of a retaining wall replacement project on an apartment complex in Champaign. Patrick told us

“I am quite confident that using the app while with the owner allowed me to show great value and credibility. When the customer received the layout, cross sections and color choices while I was still standing with him talking about the project I knew my chances of winning the project had increased.”

 Patrick used his iPad to demonstrate the app by laying out the project while the owner and he were on site. He mentioned “the elevation view was great - to show what his wall was going to look like helped me sell the job.”

These apps were built to help each homeowner, contractor, dealer and/or producer who works with AB products sell more product. If you would like additional information on these tools, visit the link available above or call us (1-800-899-5309) to discuss in more detail.

Allan Block apps

Allan Block apps


Allan Block Certification Program:
Courtyard and Rewards? How?

With the training season behind us and projects being installed all over the world, how can you benefit from your time, training and experience with Allan Block (AB) products to quickly earn free rewards? Once you have become certified (how to become certified) and in addition to using AB Retaining Wall Products, you can expedite your ability to receive rewards by building with our AB Courtyard product.

AB Courtyard is a free standing decorative concrete block system that you can add on to any outdoor area to increase aesthetics and usability for the owner. Build a seating area, fire pit or wrap a common area at a business to help protect or define a space.

patio packages
AB Courtyard Patio Package

We also launched the Courtyard Patio Packages in early 2017 as another option to expedite the selling process and assist you in the estimating and design/layout steps. Each of the 12 Pre-Designed Courtyard Patio Packages comes with Courtyard and Paver quantities along with other materials such as base rock, bedding sand, edging, polymeric sand, sealer and adhesive. Build with AB Courtyard Patio Packages to simplify the selling process and to help move up the rewards ladder – talk with your production partner today to see how we can help you earn free tools and other accessory items.

Keep an eye out on our upcoming training schedule so you can get trained, become certified, earn rewards and most importantly differentiate your business.

AB Europa

Featured Collection: AB Europa

AB Europa was launched almost 20 years ago and the natural look of a manufactured product like Europa still dominates the market. We continue to hear and see the demand for “a natural looking retaining wall” – AB Europa is one example of the products available from Allan Block providing such a solution.

This rugged old world look has been many designer’s top pick for years and contractors like it because it provides the same ease of installation as our AB Collection that most are very familiar with. You can use one block size or combine all four to create a wonderful AB Abbey Blend patterned wall to meet the needs of any customer you work with.

Whether you are on a commercial or residential site, upgrade the look of the Segmental Retaining Wall (SRW) with an AB Europa project today.

AB Europa Abbey Blend
AB Europa Collection

Contractor Talk: Proper Geogrid Placement

First, what is geogrid? Geogrid is a geotextile (typically made from a polyester material) that has been used for decades in the construction of roads, slopes and other areas where soil needed to be strengthened or “reinforced” to reduce the likelihood of settlement (check out this great video to learn more about how grid strengthens soil). The Segmental Retaining Wall (SRW) industry uses grid in the same manner – we incorporate geogrid within the wall structure as part of the system to strengthen area behind the wall to allow for building very tall walls (there are other options too, such as no-fines concrete).


grid strength
Install geogrid in the machine or roll direction

grid strength
Install geogrid and stake into place

grid strength
Compact in 8in. (200 mm) lifts

What do you need to know about grid? Uni-axial or bi-axial? What is that? Geogrid manufactures produce grid in what is known as uni-axial or bi-axial directions. Uni-axial is at it sounds – the strength of the grid is in one direction. Bi-axial means the strength of grid is in both directions. Why is this important to know? When using geogrid within a retaining wall, the strength of the grid must be placed perpendicular to the front face of the wall to receive the benefit of the grid strength. If the strength of the grid is not perpendicular to the face, the grid will lose most of its ability to “strengthen or reinforce” the soil.

When working with geogrid, it is imperative to understand what type of grid you are working with and which direction the strength is in. Visit geogrid installation on our site to learn more about the process.

Get to Know an Allan Block Master Wall Builder: Bob Smith

As a recap, an Allan Block Master Wall Builder  is an individual who has reached the third and final step in the AB Contractor Certification Program (level 1 = AB Certified Contractor and level 2 = AB Experienced Wall Builder). Contractors that reach this level have both the knowledge and the skills to build top quality Allan Block walls. To learn more check out the details associated with each certification level.

Our Allan Block Master Wall Builder this quarter is Bob  Smith with Smith Walls in Los Altos Hills, CA. Bob has been working with our producing partner, Calstone in the local market for nearly 25 years. He began his business in 1986 as a general contractor doing a variety of work inside and out, but found his real passion working outdoors as he learned to “create sculptures with AB products.” For the past 25 years Bob has done exterior work and concentrates on high end residential work which fills nearly 60% of his work and commercial projects that round out his business.

Allan Block Master Wall Builder Bob Smith - SmithWalls

Allan Block Master Wall Builder
Bob Smith - Smith Walls

Allan Block Retaining Wall Built By Bob Smith - SmithWalls

Allan Block Retaining Wall Built By
Bob Smith - Smith Walls


Bob has a great reputation within the industry and with his employees. As many reading this can appreciate, Bob’s right hand man who runs his crews each day has been with him from the beginning and has brought his own son into the business to help install landscape products throughout Central CA. Bob still finds himself on every job each day they are working – “I am not throwing around block as much as I once was, but I am still on the job.”

Bob has found himself working on a variety of projects – 30 ft (9.1 m) structures on commercial sites to residential projects ranging in all shapes and sizes. The fun thing about his job “has been the variety and the technical challenges we face.” He went on to say it has been great to create “aesthetically pleasing” landscapes for his customers.

We encourage you to hop on his website, to learn more about his business. You will see the type of work they create as well as testimonials from customers, suppliers and others. You will even see a comment from Calstone founder Tom Morey who clearly values the partnership Calstone and Smith Walls has.

“Over the years, whenever a customer who has purchased materials from us needs a quality builder to install our products, I never hesitate to refer Smith Walls for the job. They have a proven track record of satisfied customers and innovative solutions to challenging situations which speaks to their position at the top of the list in my book. Keep up the great work, guys!” – Tom Morey

Bob – it has been a pleasure to be a part of your business over the past 25 years. We look forward to many more years of fun and exciting times. From all of us at Allan Block – thanks for your partnership and good luck with all your future endeavors!

Allan Block Retaining Wall Built By Bob Smith - SmithWalls

Allan Block Retaining Wall Built By
Bob Smith - Smith Walls

hot topics

Electronic Documents

As the need for cutting edge tools such as our Apps continue to grow, so too will the demand for electronic documents. AB has always provided marketing material to help you promote, sell and install wall products. Printed material has historically been the preferred method of learning, but today over 50% of our literature is viewed by downloading one of the many industry leading documents from our website. That number has more than doubled over the past 10 years and is expected to continue to rise.

What is driving this? We feel there are a variety of reasons which include smarter devices such as smart phones and tablets as well as more exposure to electronic documents in everyday life. Most individuals today go to the internet to find any and all information they need when tackling any number of projects or questions - retaining and/or seating walls are no exception. Contractors are sitting down with customers and using a tablet or computer to run through their proposal and electronic documents make it cleaner and easier to do this. Many engineers and architects are moving away from hard copy libraries because it is quicker and easier to use the internet to pull specifications and/or educational pieces from. In addition, they don’t have to worry with keeping the library updated with all the latest and greatest product information – we consistently update our website at AB to ensure individuals looking for information find the most up-to-date information.

Today we have every AB marketing piece readily available as a downloadable PDF and many are also available for iBooks. We will continue to print and make hard copies available, but when you need an electronic document consider checking our Catalog section to see if one of our electronic pieces will help you in your sales effort.

Allan Block Design Ideas

Design Ideas
by Allan Block

Rooftop planter

Retaining Walls Installation
UNDER 6 ft. (1.8 m)

Rooftop planter

Retaining Walls Installation
OVER 6 ft. (1.8 m)

Allan Block Corporation
7424 W. 78th Street, Bloomington, MN 55439
Help & Support Center: (800) 899-5309
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