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Concrete-making family begins selling line of unique home furnishings

Interior designer Jordan Hardiman polishes a decorative concrete table top as store owner Maria Medei answers the phone in the background at Concrete Décor in Bethlehem. - (Photo / Stacy Wescoe)

For more than 70 years, the Casilio family has run a traditional ready-mix concrete business in Bethlehem. Today, the third generation of Casilios has paved the way for a new business – a store that sells a line of home décor furnishings and other items made from concrete.

Maria Medei, who owns Concrete Décor on Union Boulevard, with her brother, Jim Casilio, said opening the showroom was a way for the family company to diversify.
With the economy lagging and business down in the concrete industry, the family began looking for ways to cut expenses and create new sources of revenue.
It wasn’t hard to come up with a novel idea for a concrete-based product.
The store is actually geared to bring in three different sources of revenue with segments aimed at the contractor market, as well as buyers of decorative concrete floor coverings and decorative concrete furniture.
“We decided to go with what we know,” said Medei.
Medei said decorative concrete is a trend whose time has come. She noted that materials like marble and granite are already very popular in the region for kitchen countertops and sinks. On the West Coast, concrete alternatives are making headway into that market with similar pricing and the ability to be more creative with the product.
In the store, she and her family can make a variety of patterned and colored surfaces using different techniques to create original looks.
Popular products include the more traditional uses of concrete furniture – outdoor planters, outdoor bars and picnic tables – but also interior design.
She said kitchen countertops and sinks are very popular with her designers who are able to create looks and textures to bring character to their products.
Some of her most popular designs have been a rippled sink, which has water flowing down a riverbank like surface, and concrete children’s play tables that are durable and sturdy.
The store also crafts dining room tables, coffee tables, vanities – and just about any other piece of furniture someone could dream up.
Medei said Concrete Décor still faces challenges as a retail store.
One of the issues is building foot traffic. She said the store has more or less served as a showroom for people who are interested in the product rather than as a place where the public will simply come in to browse.
But she hopes to change that as she builds her name recognition and as the popularity of decorative concrete surfaces increases in the region.
Concrete Décor is one of relatively few outfits that offer decorative concrete and it boasts the largest showroom by far. When the popularity of the product peaks – as she believes it will – the Casilios will be ready.

Stacy Wescoe
Writer and online editor Stacy Wescoe has her finger on the pulse of the business community in the Greater Lehigh Valley and keeps you up-to-date with technology and trends, plus what coworkers and competitors are talking about around the water cooler — and on social media. She can be reached at stacyw@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 4104. Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.

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