A Customized Floor Plan
Black Bear Coatings & Concrete puts clients and employees first
“Floor coatings don’t fail—the installer does.”
That’s the philosophy that guides Black Bear Coatings & Concrete (Black Bear). Installing the “right floor every time” and quality of work are also of mind for Owners Justin Tousignant and John Scott, and that mindset has helped them build a successful business from the ground up—quite literally.
Black Bear is one of the Northeast’s leading commercial and industrial floor coatings contractors and stands apart from its competitors. In a time when flooring installers were trying to do it all and offering a bevy of options to clients without the expertise to back up their claims, Tousignant and Scott opted for a different direction. They weren’t going into business to do it all; rather, their aim was to do it well. And the only way to achieve this was to specialize in epoxy and resinous floor solutions.
“In an industry filled with vendors who say they can offer it all, we saw an opportunity to stand apart from the competition,” Tousignant says. “Where some companies say they can do coating as well as polished concrete installations, they are usually good at one but not the other. That’s not the case at Black Bear.”
Black Bear, based in Leominster, Massachusetts, takes a comprehensive approach to its projects that centers on engineering the precise resinous coating to maximize the performance of the material and meet the needs of a specific space, including mechanical, manufacturing or clean-room projects. The process requires complete understanding of the environmental conditions of a particular area, be it substrate condition, chemical exposure, impact resistance, wear resistance, thermal shock and aesthetics.
That type of specialization has helped Black Bear stand out.
“Black Bear is not a one-size-fits-all company,” Tousignant says. “Our philosophy has always been that of customization. And you can’t have customization without personalization. We’re proud of the fact that we’ve built a leading business while maintaining a small-town, personalized feel and have remained focused on our commitment to customer service.”
It’s easy to see how Black Bear sets itself apart. With a list of notable brands under it belt, including Harvard University, Sanofi Genzyme, Harley-Davidson Motorcycles and Fenway Park, and an impressive client retention rate that has earned it a preferred partnership with many of these brands, the Black Bear team touts an unprecedented 30 years of combined expertise in an industry that struggles with experience.
“Black Bear isn’t just a contractor,” Tousignant says. “We prefer to think of ourselves as innovators in our niche. We take chances and push the envelope of formulation and installation. Above all, we pioneer techniques and business principles that tend to become industry standard.”
However, the core of Black Bear’s success is more than just methodologies and capabilities; it’s the team that Tousignant and Scott have built. And for a company that adheres to the philosophy that “floor coatings don’t fail; installers fail,” it’s clear that Black Bear has high standards and expectations for its crews. But it doesn’t leave them on their own to figure out the right way to do things; rather the company provides education and support to meet leadership’s expectations and keep customers happy.
The company, which primarily serves clients in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont, makes every effort to provide its team advancement opportunities, a lucrative salary and a rewarding career in an evolving industry.
Setting Individualized Expectations
The high praise earned for the quality of work and the longevity of its floor systems is a direct result of the gambles that Black Bear sometimes has to take—not just with its installations, but also with clients. With competitors eager to please and earn business by giving companies whatever they request, Black Bear has been known to take an alternate approach to maintain the integrity of its business.
“We didn’t earn our reputation by being ‘yes men.’ It’s built on expertise, setting expectations and educating clients,” Tousignant says. “They may think they know what they need, but in the end, it’s our job to assess the overall project and determine if they’ve considered the best solution or if there’s a better option. We’re not just installing floors, we’re value-engineering the right system that will keep people safe and provide a lasting product.”
Standard operating procedure at Black Bear is anything but. The firm’s highly customized approach means that the only thing clients have in common is the on-site evaluation that takes place at the start of each project. This “discovery phase” is not limited to just the job site.
“It’s important that we, as a team, get to know the client and their business, how the space is going to be used, compliance requirements and long-term maintenance goals. This is the only way to be effective and present all viable options to clients,” Tousignant says.
Each job is unique and requires Black Bear to be proficient in more than formulating and laying coatings. The team preps each site ahead of installation—whether it’s diamond grinding/shot blasting an existing substrate or engineering a system to maintain specific client environments. Black Bear’s foundation work is critical to the durability and integrity of each flooring system.
Keeping Pace with Emerging Industries
While the Black Bear team has steadily made a name for itself as a top commercial and industrial contractor, as of late, two burgeoning markets have become a growing portion of its business. An increasing number of pharmaceutical companies in the Northeast have noticed Black Bear’s experience with life science, pharmaceutical manufacturing and corporate clients and recognized it is uniquely qualified to work with these businesses.
The legalization of marijuna and the recent budding of marijuana cultivation, manufacturing and retail centers has afforded Black Bear the opportunity to complete jobs in several capacities for these businesses. From grow rooms to production and cooking areas, as well as packaging and distribution spaces for clients including Garden Remedies, Patriot Care, MassMedicum and Commonwealth Alternative Care, Black Bear has done more than evolve its skill sets and practices. It has evolved as a company to keep pace with emerging industries.
Building a Team from the Ground Up
“We want to help people build lives they want to live,” Tousignant says.
He and partner Scott attribute the company’s success to its employees. From the beginning, fostering an environment where employees can flourish has been a priority. His team exhibits a strong work ethic and an unwavering dedication to client service, and Tousignant credits those employees for Black Bear’s success.
“Building a reputable business means surrounding yourself with like-minded people. Our staff is the backbone of our success, which is why our hiring process is unlike many in the industry,” Tousignant says.
He’s adopted a recruitment process that’s a career springboard. The owners recognize the need to get to know each candidate beyond their years of experience to see if they have what it takes to be a Black Bear team member.
Black Bear promotes a unique training program that offers opportunities beyond simply learning a trade. Graduates often go on to become team leads and job site foremen in a supervisory capacity.
“Black Bear recognizes the desire people have to better their circumstances, and we’re well positioned to help them achieve their goals,” Tousignant says. “It’s not uncommon that our team refers to each other as a family. It’s a giant support system, which is why going the extra mile to have the right people in place is a priority.”
Going the extra mile is commonplace at Black Bear and is exemplified by its flooring solutions. Whether polished concrete or resinous systems, the company builds floors that stand the test of time and stays focused on its employees whose longevity is unheard of in an industry plagued with turnover. The owners say these guiding principles are what has kept Black Bear Coatings & Concrete at the forefront of the commercial flooring industry and distinguished them from their peers, despite the rise of competition.