I love concrete. It can be timeless. It’s a product that if used correctly can produce incredible results. Fortunately, I have had the pleasure of seeing a master at work when it comes to ALL things concrete… and that master is Keenan Harris. He is passionate, fastidious and a pure perfectionist that lives by the philosophy “If you want something in life, it’s up to you to go get it, work hard, work smart and make the most of every opportunity!”
A self proclaimed workaholic, Keenan’s eye for detail puts him, as a concreter, as one of the top specialists in the country. Receiving commissions locally, interstate and from around the world, Keenan is a driving force behind all things concrete.
I grew up being really obsessed with anything inventive. Shows like Beyond 2000 or the Curiosity Show had me captivated.
As a child, Keenan was building underground cubby houses with booby traps and being inspired by shows like the Goonies. He never sat still, constantly inventing and building things such as skateboard ramps, or nagging his father to weld bikes together to make billy carts. His childhood was full of building adventures, scouring the suburbs and any work site for potential materials.
Living on the Mornington Peninsula, Keenan soon discovered surfing and set his sights on never working a day for the rest of his life; that is until he discovered that you do in fact need money to be able to “get the things that you want.” So Keenan tried his hand at garden maintenance. Two years later, he owned his own business, had 3 employees and couldn’t keep up with demand.
I was intrigued with architecture and always inquisitive about the way things were constructed… I dreamed about having my own house one day; what I’d do and how I’d build it.
Keenan worked hard and bought his first house at 18. At 24, he had built his second home. He was officially addicted to houses; inventing, designing and renovating was just his thing.
Professionally, over the next decade, to-ing and fro-ing from Garden Maintenance to Plumbing, and back to Landscaping, Keenan finally delved into the world of concrete. He had always been intrigued by the product and combining his building, plumbing and landscaping skills allowed him to continually keep coming up with new ideas. It was perfect.
If I knew there was slab getting poured at a clients job somewhere I would go and have lunch and watch from a distance, the liquid material had me mesmerised.
When asked, why concrete? Keenan responded “Concrete is the ultimate building product and its structural strength and raw finish make it one of the only building products that can last a lifetime with limited, to no maintenance. It can be made to look soft or sleek, textured, polished or completely transform its appearance by exposing aggregates or colouring it. It’s so universal and so easy to adapt to any design or style, from traditional to super modern, there’s always a perfect application for concrete internally or externally, the possibilities are literally endless and I love working with it for that reason.”
However, even though he had a clear focus and his new business had taken off, clearly never able to sit still for long, Keenan was up for yet another challenge. He applied to be a contestant on a television program called The Renovators and sure enough received THE call. Shortly after, he flew up to Sydney to participate in one of the “best adventures” of his life. Thrown in the world of television, Keenan was in his element amongst a group of like minded designers, builders and artists who were just as obsessed about renovating.
Today, still with an insatiable hunger to learn, he now has his sights set on becoming a registered builder. His work has also become very focussed, specialising in intricate concrete pieces, benches, landings and stairs.
His priority is in the technical detail and workmanship. Keenan says “For me the technical side of things is what drives me to push the limits, there’s so many tricks of the trade and every job has a different objective. The thing I love though is doing things that others can’t be bothered doing because it may be too hard or intricate. I also love working with other designers or builders that have new ideas. Being flexible and open to new ideas is what makes the end result of our work stand out.”
I love it. I love the work we create and love being able to express design ideas and push boundaries.
The future is bright for Keenan Harris. With projects already lined up for 2016, there is never a dull moment for him and his team. The opportunities are simply endless. He already has plans to commence his 7th personal building project and to showcase his wares to the public at the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show. “I want people to be amazed at new innovative ideas for the use of concrete on and in their homes. We are completely serious about being a standout in the concrete industry and to show people that we are not just the stereotypical concreter that pours house slabs and driveways.”