AB Contractor News

Exclusively for Allan Block Contractors

Q4 2018 Issue

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training opportunities

ABU Online

Contractor ABU (Allan Block University) Online is a way to stay in front of industry trends and on top of specific tools to assist you with your business. The third Tuesday of each month we host two online training opportunities to accommodate your schedules. Simply click the link below for each of the events that best fits into your day:

Upcoming Events:

SRW Stairs, Corners and Radius Install Info

November 20, 2018
(30 min)

Contractor Certification, what it is and why to participate in it

December 18, 2018
(30 min)

Retaining Wall Estimating with AB Apps and Estimating Tool

January 15, 2019
(30 min)

In addition, our Allan Block 3D Modeling Tool, which works with our AB Apps and AB Walls design software, continues to assist professionals who want to bring their hardscape projects to life. Check out our introduction to the tool every Friday at 1:30 PM CST.

AB 3D Modeling Tool: What is it and how to use it?

Fridays (30 min)
Sign up:

Certification Training Calendar

Contractor Certification Dates:

We generally host Contractor Certification classes throughout the winter months, but keep an eye on our online training schedule to make sure you don’t miss an opportunity near you. Interested in a class and not seeing a date near you – contact us.

Certificates and Rewards:

Want to join the more than 750 individuals who have already received free rewards for building with Allan Block products?

Contact your local sales rep to complete your certification and/or send project information in to get going.

Allan Block Contractor Rewards

Did You Know?

As we enter the training season we thought you would like to know there are nearly 800 newly trained Allan Block contractors building walls from training classes so far this year. In addition, we have passed out over 1,000 rewards (dead blows, levels, coolers, tool bags, etc.) and certificates to contractors all over North America. Are you ready to add your name and company to this growing group of individuals? Check out the training dates in your market soon.

In this Issue:

Tools to Help Increase Your Business

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Allan Block Residential Submittal Builder

The Allan Block Residential Submittal Tool Builder allows you to easily create documents to help you sell projects in a variety of ways.

Here are some suggestions on how you can use this to increase your sales:

For Homeowners:

Residential Submittal Package

Reduce the time involved with pulling all this information together

  • Pictures of completed projects with color options and complimentary materials such as AB Grid, Wall Drain Pro or Sleeve-It provide visuals to help you close the sale.

For Municipal Review:

Easily create project specific submittals to streamline the approval process

  • Custom project information when the city needs information on the project before they can approve it. Showcase industry recommendations for grid depth and placement for walls up to 6 ft. (1.8 m) in height.

Increase Success - Use with other Allan Block Tools

  • Need additional material? Use the AB Apps or AB Estimating Tool to add layout and estimates of your upcoming projects.

Allan Block Project Scope of Work Document

The Allan Block Scope of Work document is another resource we have developed to help you build your business and close more sales.

Templates to keep you organized

This 3 part document (MS Excel) has a variety of resources to help you organize and streamline your projects.

  • Checklist - to help you easily outline what you will be doing (pulling permits, how much excavation your estimate includes, what type of block and grid will be used, etc.)
  • Construction Contract - example template to clearly layout project expectations between you and your customer.
  • Quick Product Estimates - quick reference product estimating to help showcase the variety of ways you could build the retaining wall for your potential customer(s).
Scope of Work Document

Set yourself apart from the competition

This document is a great resource for contractors who are new to the market or are just looking for more ways to organize and streamline their business. Contact Allan Block or your local sales rep today for a copy of the Allan Block Scope of Work Document. (800) 899-5309 or info@allanblock.com

Have Ideas? We want to hear from you!

We are always looking for new ways to help you build your business and close more sales. The resources and tools we develop are meant to do just that, so if you have any ideas on ways we can help you – we want to hear it. Call us today to begin the discussion (800) 899-5309.

Allan Block Contractor Certification Program: Time for Training!

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It’s that time of year! Training in the Off-Season!

Improve efficiencies and increase profits by attending an Allan Block Contractor Certification Course. This training presents the most up-to-date installation methods within the SRW industry. As we head toward the end of 2018, many classes are being scheduled around North America – check out our training schedule.

Allan Block Contractor Certification training - hands on

The AB Contractor Certification class is a full day event that consists of a classroom and a hands-on session, providing insight to help differentiate you from your competitors and share new installation techniques that are becoming more and more prevalent. Whether you are new to the SRW industry or a seasoned veteran, there is something to learn at each class.

Allan Block Contractor Certification Training

Why attend a Contractor Certification Class?

  • Learn basics for SRW installation and how to ensure your walls last a lifetime
  • Best Practices for SRW REQUIRE contractors to be certified
  • Increase efficiency in design, estimating, or building phase of your projects
  • Differentiate yourself from the competition
  • Project leads/referrals
  • Annual rewards program (Get bags, coolers, dead blow hammers, levels, etc.)
  • Become aware of industry advancements

Contractor Talk: No-Fines Concrete

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Contractor Talk 1

As contractors you are always trying to solve problems that come up on the site. Whether it's steep slopes, soft soils, large surcharges, tight property line constraints, etc... you need to work with the design engineer to make sure everything comes together to ensure the wall works over the lifetime of the property. You have many tools in your toolbox to help solve the issues that come up and No-Fines Concrete (NFC) is a new one that you need to know and learn to its fullest potential.

No-Fines Concrete is a concrete mix without any sands. The result is a very porous solid mass when cured with a void ratio of around 30%. This allows water that might seep through the retained soils to run right through to the drain pipes and exit the wall as designed.

No-Fines Concrete is not new but has only been used in North America for the last 8 years. NFC has been used in Australia for more than 25 years and in many ways is used more than a typical geogrid reinforced soil mass for wall infill soil in their market. Why is it used so often? In most cases, under most surcharges, it can be built with a shorter overall structure depth than a standard geogrid reinforced soil mass, typically around 30%-40% of the wall height will work. Whereas, a geogrid reinforced wall is typically 60% of the wall height. This shorter depth is a great option when the wall needs to be built very close to a property line and where there may not be room to install geogrid.

No-Fines Concrete

There is more you can learn about NFC by checking our AB Commercial Installation Manual or reading one of our past newsletters articles featuring our first NFC project and case study.

For more information contact your local Allan Block representative or the Allan Block Engineering department at engineering@allanblock.com.

Featured Collection: AB Fieldstone Collection®

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AB Fieldstone Collection - Heritage Series by Allan Block

Have you ever been asked for a new look to a retaining wall? No room for geogrid because your property line is too close behind the wall. AB Fieldstone is one of the most unique products on the market today. With the variety of sizes, facing options and unit depths this collection will provide you flexibility and aesthetics to meet customers’ demands.

What is AB Fieldstone?
AB Fieldstone is a two-piece retaining wall product that provides you with a non-split face, natural stone look which owners are after. Whether you are looking for the grey, stacked stone look of natural stone, or a chiseled rock formation, AB Fieldstone can provide the aesthetic that takes your project to the next level and gets the neighborhood raving about the look of your landscaping. There are a variety of benefits to AB Fieldstone which include:


  • The lighter-weight two-piece system makes it easy to handle. These ergonomically-friendly blocks are easy to lift and will not wear you out after installing them all week.

Easy Installation

  • Although the system is two pieces, the front face of the AB Fieldstone is installed and leveled by itself. The back anchoring unit is dropped into place to provide the full depth of the system.
  • Do you know a product you can lift with one hand and retain over 8 ft (2.4 m) of soil, without geogrid reinforcement? The easy to use AB Fieldstone Collection can get to the hard to reach sites where you may need a great site solution that does not require large equipment! Check out the maximum gravity wall height chart for additional information.

Built-in Corners & Height Control

  • How often does a corner on a retaining wall project cause issues on discoloration or manufacturing tolerances? Not any more! With the way the AB Fieldstone is manufactured, the facing unit has a built-in corner and is manufactured to the same exact dimensions every time.

AB Fieldstone Collection - Sierra Series by Allan Block

Aside from building retaining walls, AB Fieldstone can be used to build free-standing parapet walls for planters, seating walls, enclosures and more. Build stairways, corners, curved and free-standing walls all with the beauty and style of natural stone, without the cost or hassle. Stone lovers now have an easy and affordable option that is not only easy to build and is made with renewable resources, but is beautiful to behold. – Just like natural stone.

To learn more about AB Fieldstone, download our catalog or visit our website at allanblock.com.

Hot Topic: Sleeve-It® by Strata

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Some of you may already know, but Strata recently launched the next generation of Sleeve-It, Sleeve-It® SD-1. As you continue to identify ways to differentiate your business, Sleeve-It may prove to be an item to help you accomplish your goal. Sleeve-It SD-1 has never been better since it is built with an integral setback and no more need to assemble on site. This product has been improved upon and continues to provide a wonderful solution for pedestrian railings and fences behind retaining walls.

We always want you to position yourself as the market specialist and this product helps solve problems. You can use this to strengthen your market position and add value to your program.

Not sure what Sleeve-It is? Check out more online, but in short it is a plastic sonotube designed as a cantilever to reduce lateral pressures a typical sonotube and railing/fence foundation often apply to the top of a retaining wall. The best part, it allows one to place the railing/fence post (in many cases) right up behind the retaining wall to maximize space on the site. While not fit for all railing or fence foundations, it is a wonderful design that everyone should become more familiar with. Educate your customers on it today and see how you may help them solve a problem on their next retaining wall project!

Sleeve-it Sleeve-it

In The Spotlight: AB Master Wall Builders
American Design and Contracting

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For this quarter’s Allan Block Master Wall Builder Showcase we’re taking a trip to the Capital of New York to visit Marc Micare and Joe Sutherland, owners and operators of American Design and Contracting. Marc and Joe have been best friends since junior high, and in 1985 the two decided to partner up and start American Design and Contracting. The company’s 30+ years of experience is backed by their tremendous quality of work and years of work in the industry.

American Design & Contracting

American Design and Contracting handles work that includes retaining walls, pavers, and stamped concrete in Albany as well as its surrounding areas. A lot of the sites that they work on are in federal wetlands or large hillsides as most of the flat land has been developed already. These environments are difficult areas to properly install walls, but due to their focus on high quality work over profit they have never received a contamination violation or been responsible for installing a retaining wall that has failed in their 33 years of business!

For a long time, Marc and Joe stuck to high end residential work, but after taking on a huge retaining wall job in 2007 their scope shifted to include commercial work. This project consisted of walls built with the AB Collection up to heights of 45 ft (14 m) and a total wall facing of over 32,000 ft² (3,000 m²). Since diving into commercial work, they have completed other massive projects including an AB Classic wall totaling just under 30,000 ft² (2,800 m²). Others often see how efficiently Joe and his crews work on challenging projects and ask, “Who are you guys? I want you working on my next project.”

Master Wall Builder 2

It isn’t only American Design and Contracting’s efficiency that sets them apart from the competition. Marc and Joe have worked closely with local AB production partner, Zappala Block and were early adopters of the Allan Block Contractor Certification Program. At a time when many contractors and builders didn’t focus on educating their companies about proper retaining wall installation, it helped build their reputation as experts in the retaining wall industry. American Design and Contracting wasn’t always an Allan Block installer but while adopting the Certification Program, Marc found Allan Block to install quicker and more efficiently than the competitor products they had used to that point. This allowed them to continue to build large scale projects quicker without sacrificing the quality of installation they began their company with. They are both aware that the industry is always changing and that the learning opportunities provided by Allan Block keep their knowledge up to date. Also, with the number of projects that Marc, Joe, and their four crews build, they are constantly receiving rewards through the AB Rewards Program.

Having gone through the Allan Block Contractor Certification training programs and learning what it takes to properly construct retaining walls, Marc and Joe have been confident in their ability to tackle very challenging wall projects from the start. This helped their company stand out as a reputable builder of tall and challenging walls making them the number one installer on many designers and engineers’ lists. Moreover, Joe, as a working owner, makes sure that he is on every wall job working alongside his crews.

Master Wall Builder 3

Project just under 30,000 ft² (9,144 m)

Both Marc and Joe received their Allan Block Master Wall Builder status earlier this year and continue to build Allan Block walls all the time. Marc and Joe, we at Allan Block cannot thank you enough for the opportunity to work with such a great company. It is skilled individuals like yourselves that are responsible for the outstanding reputation Allan Block holds and you have our most sincere gratitude for everything that you’ve done.

Master Wall Builder 1

2007 project - 32,000 ft² (9,754 m²); job with walls up to 45 ft (14 m).

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