A Clean Start
Lone Star Power Wash & Concrete Floors, Inc. expands services as it grows
When Alex Murray launched his pressure washing business in 2004, it was just him, a bank loan, some equipment and a mobile phone. Today, the business, Lone Star Power Wash & Concrete Floors, Inc. (Lone Star) has expanded to add multiple services, including polished concrete, decorative concrete and epoxy floors.
Owned and operated by the husband and wife team of Alex and Melissa Murray, they tell us the company stands apart because “we have the same talent and tools as the big companies but provide hands-on owner involvement and oversight of every project we are awarded. We stand behind our work. We are easy to reach and get great feedback for being so accessible to our clients and the general contractors with whom we work.”
From the Ground-Up
Alex says Lone Star works mostly with commercial customers on new ground-up construction projects, but also performs tenant improvement/finish- out projects and remodels. “New construction and finish-outs are really in our wheelhouse and where we focus. The main services we offer include polished concrete, sealing, staining and decorative finishes. We also do epoxy coatings and concrete restoration like cleaning and resurfacing. Essentially, we do everything to concrete but pour it,” he says.
“We either keep it looking good, enhance it or repair and restore it from years of wear and tear,” Melissa adds.
Alex got his start when he was in high school and college. He was working at a motor home dealership in Fort Worth and a co-worker had a side job doing pressure washing. He asked Alex if he’d like to help him.
“I did that for a few years in high school and college and saw the potential in the business. So, I decided to start my own company. I got a loan, bought the equipment and got started around 2002,” he recalls. He grew the business, but when the recession hit in 2008, he saw business decline as power washing fleets and heavy equipment became less of a priority to his customers.
“I had to figure out something else to do to keep the business afloat and that led into concrete staining and epoxy coating. We slowly added concrete polishing about three years ago; that’s one of our favorite things to do,” he says.
Like a Family
Melissa says the company has a very family feel with a crew of about five full-time employees. “We are careful about who we bring on because our team is our family. If we look at bringing in someone new, he or she is hired on a 30-day trial period. It is like a tryout for both them and us,” Melissa says. “We usually know pretty quickly if they’re going to be a good fit for the team. We are very hands-on, and we can determine what part of the job they will be best at.”
While Alex is one of the co-owners, he is in the field on all projects, Melissa says. “He’s making sure the jobs are done right. When you own the company, you really care about the end result and the process to get there, so Alex is a part of it, watching and monitoring,” she explains.
“I’ve done this for years and I know how each process works,” Alex says. “There’s not a school for this so you have to learn by experience. We have great employees and I’ve trained most of them. I know what they’re best at, whether it’s polished concrete or something else.”
The team works in two-person crews with one floater. The whole crew will be assigned for large projects, he says. Additional labor can be brought in, but it remains managed by Alex and Melissa. There is a pair of employees who specialize in polished concrete and have been doing it for years before joining Lone Star. “They are the kind of employees we can send to a project and know they will do a great job every time. They take great pride in their work,” Alex adds.
Through the years, Alex has built relationships with a variety of contractors in the industry and has benefited through mentoring from leaders within those companies. “They have really been great to advise on how to price some projects and what processes might work best in particular instances. As a result, Alex is an even better mentor to his staff,” Melissa says.
Taking care of their team is important to them, she says. “We want to create something; we’re not trying to build an empire for me and Alex. The more successful the company is, the more we can bless our employees and their families.
“We take care of them in ways other companies don’t,” she says. “They really are like family to us, and we want to grow this for everyone’s benefit and hopefully build something for our children to take over one day,” she adds.
Educating both team members and clients is a big part of what Lone Star does, Melissa explains. “Communication is everything, with our guys and our customers. We constantly focus on that. Alex is in the field and I’m on the back end making sure that everything is documented and everyone is getting updates and emails. Our philosophy centers on information; we want you to know how the process works and what to expect from us,” she explains.
There’s some uncertainty in working with concrete, Alex says. A customer may know exactly what they want, but some results—like a particular color—can’t be guaranteed in a concrete floor because of a number of factors that can impact the end result.
“We have the same talent and tools as the big companies but provide hands-on owner involvement and oversight of every project we are awarded. We stand behind our work. We are easy to reach and get great feedback for being so accessible to our clients and the general contractors with whom we work.” Alex Murray, Co-Owner, Lone Star Power Wash & Concrete Floors, Inc.
“Concrete is like a sponge that soaks things up,” he says. “We can’t guarantee how a color will take. If it is a brand new floor, then we can do a mock-up and test it. In residential projects, we work for the homebuilder and not the homeowner, so we will do that mock-up in a closet, so they can show the homeowner what their floor will look like before they commit to it,” he explains.
A color in a photo may not be what they can get, Melissa adds. That’s where the constant communication with a project manager or supervisor on a job is very important. “For us to be successful, the customer has to have a realistic expectation. We’re not putting down carpet or tile, we’re working with this material that may not conform to exactly what someone wants,” she says.
Alex says epoxy can be guaranteed because it is going on the concrete and not mixed within it. With a concrete stain or polish, you never really know how it is going to turn out, he adds. His favorite jobs are the new construction projects in wide-open spaces with epoxy, sealants or concrete polish.
The Power of Power Washing
“Our big commercial pressure washing jobs are the company’s bread-and-butter jobs with regular customers,” Alex says. These are often outdoor patios for restaurants that need to maintain a level of cleanliness and don’t want to show all the spills.
“Our pressure washing services for restaurants often include their exterior sidewalks, as well as the dumpster areas, which is a big deal. We have several maintenance contracts we do on a quarterly basis,” Melissa says.
She is particularly proud of all of the post-construction cleanup work the company has done for Hill & Wilkinson General Contractors over the years.
Through these established relationships, Lone Star was chosen to finish the polished concrete for the 30,000-square-foot indoor showroom for Vogt RV Centers. “It’s where I started working and got my start in power washing,” Alex says “That friend who gave me a start in the industry is still there and recommended us to the owner. Building those relationships is so important because you never know how they can benefit you later on.”
The company’s largest polish job to date was a 70,000-square-foot project for Northridge Construction Group. Lone Star also cleaned, stained, and sealed close to 100,000 square feet of hallways, working around tenants for one apartment complex. The firm also did the same scope of work for South Side Flats urban apartment complex in Dallas.
Building on a Brand
Alex and Melissa see more opportunities ahead as the business grows. The couple were married in 2011, and Melissa put her advertising degree to work and took over the office operations at that time. She also worked with Alex to rebrand and incorporate the company from its previous name, North Texas Pressure Wash Systems.
Since that time, the company has shown growth every year, and they want to take it even further. In 2019, Melissa became the majority owner and they are currently in the process of seeking a Woman Business Enterprise (WBE) certification from the state of Texas.
“I would love to see us get opportunities at some of these higher-profile jobs that are required to have contracts with minority-owned or women-owned businesses,” Melissa says. “I’m very proud of my involvement in the business. I was working in sales and saw the opportunity to help Alex and work with him. I’ve learned so much from him and enjoy helping him run the business.”
Now, the duo is looking to rebrand once again.
“We want to grow and expand our polished concrete division while continuing to perfect our decorative concrete and epoxy skills. This year, we intend to add commercial painting to our list of services,” Melissa says. “We have successfully completed our first large commercial painting project and are working on the details to make sure we have the best team in place along with competitive pricing.”
The company’s new branding will be Lone Star Surface Pros because “we plan to be the go-to team from floor to ceiling,” she adds.
“That’s why it is important to change the company’s name to reflect the additional services,” Melissa says. “We are surface pros; not just washing or decorative concrete. One of our first floor-to-ceiling projects is for Oso Climbing Gyms in Dallas,” she says. “It is really a value add for our customers, and it is the nature of surviving in the construction industry. We are evolving and adapting; being diversified is a smart move.”
General contractors (GCs) like working with Lone Star because of Melissa’s efforts to help them get through red tape and get them the information and paperwork they need to make their jobs easier, Alex says. “These GCs also know we will be there when a job needs to get done.”
The couple, who have three children, like to be involved in their community, as well as working with their church family at The Avenue Church. The company donates to local school fundraisers and contributes what they can. They also open their home to host meetings for the church high school youth group.
“We want to be a blessing to others,” Melissa says. “We have pride of ownership in our company and our community, and we try to do what we can for good; that’s the core of who we are.”