Secure your surroundings with beauty of design, strength of construction, and decades of longevity.
Though he’s a longtime businessman, you’re just as likely to find Todd Sternfeld outdoors working on the ranch he bought and refurbished outside of Dallas. He may be on his tractor or busy perfecting his fields with picturesque landscaping.
But unlike the work surely being done on other ranches, you won’t find Sternfeld mending fences.
That’s because the perfectly aligned fence found on Sternfeld’s ranch might appear to be constructed of a high-quality wood, but is, in fact, not wood at all.
You see, almost 40 years ago, Sternfeld had an idea. What if he could have the look of a beautiful wood fence with the durability of concrete? And thus, Superior Concrete Products was born. In its nearly four decades of business, the company’s creations have become eye-catching fixtures in a wide variety of places, from ranches to schools, golf courses to city parks.
“We’ve done a lot of stuff with the product that people have never seen before,” Sternfeld says. “I love creating, and I love dealing with people that have these ranches and these properties they want to improve.”
Sternfeld grew up in California enjoying working with his hands. After high school he got involved in a landscaping company and was introduced to the precast-concrete business. But the existing products were just basic concrete. They had no color and came with only one side of texture. It felt incomplete to Sternfeld, who pioneered a new way of molding the concrete to achieve a double-sided texture.
At first, Superior Concrete Products had a solid concrete fence that looked like wood on both sides. This initial design kick-started an extensive line of products that have been developed over the years and even include integrated colors mixed right into the concrete, so you’ll never have to paint or repair your fences or buildings again.
Sternfeld exhibited his work at the International Builders’ Show in Houston in 1983. “People loved it. It really had a great response, because they use so much wood here in Texas,” Sternfeld says.
By the time the show moved to Dallas in 1985, Sternfeld had embraced the cowboy culture and Western heritage he’d always loved as a kid growing up. It wasn’t long before he knew he had to pack up his bags, and business, and move to the Lone Star State. “We set up initially on a small ready-mix facility, and I went out and started to call on builders, developers, municipalities, architects, engineers, and landscape architects and introduced them to the product.”
Since then, the company has grown exponentially, extending the product line to include its popular rail fencing and brick, stucco, and stone textures.
Building a career was ingrained early in Sternfeld’s childhood watching his grandfathers in business. One came to the United States from Poland in 1920 and did real estate property management, and the other was in the tool business, selling to farmers across California’s agricultural industry.
It was Sternfeld’s father who taught him that his word was his honor. And he instilled in him the importance of going above and beyond to take care of the customer. Sternfeld certainly got his work ethic from his father, too. The elder Sternfeld had been a VP national sales manager for the successful clothing brand Kennington Ltd.; after his retirement he continued working with his son at Superior Concrete Products before passing away recently at age 84.
Sternfeld stands behind his products, ensuring quality by handling everything in-house. The company manufactures the products and even has engineers on staff who factor in each job’s specific conditions, such as height, soil, and wind. “We have become kind of a design-build [company], where we sell, design and engineer, manufacture and install — that way we have pretty good control over the process,” Sternfeld says, citing the factory’s certification by the National Precast Concrete Association.
Beyond fence products, Sternfeld has utilized his innovative methods in concrete to create a host of structures, from foot bridges, barns, and other buildings to award-winning tiny houses, effectively turning concrete into a work of art.
“One thing that’s always kept me motivated and engaged is I can never stop creating,” Sternfeld says. “I don’t think I’ll ever be able to do all the things I want to in a lifetime, because you can always continue to create.”
It’s that same love of turning something unexpected into a thing of beauty that inspired Sternfeld to purchase and completely overhaul the ranch he now enjoys with his loving wife and daughters who’ve supported his vision.
“The ranch was like an overgrown canvas that I had to clean up and see what I had. I’ve just been chiseling away at it,” he says. “Seeing the vision that I’ve been able to create from nothing to what it is now — not only with the ranch but with the business as well — just continues to drive me.”
One of Sternfeld’s many satisfied customers shares the same sentiment about his own ranch. “It was basically a sticker patch. It had an old barbed wire fence that was falling down,” says Jerry Nichols of Blue Sky Ranch, which he set out to transform a few years ago. “It’s a golf course now basically,” he says proudly. When it came time to fence in the property’s half-mile of road frontage, Nichols wanted something nice but was shocked at the quote he got for pipe fencing. “I was like, ‘Wait a minute — there’s maintenance on this fence,” he says laughing. “You’re going to have to sand it. The welds are going to give way. You’re going to have to keep painting it.”
Nichols had past experience with other fences. Vinyl, he felt, mildewed and wasn’t sturdy. Wood boards warped and popped out of place. Then Nichols saw an ad in this very magazine that introduced him to Superior Concrete Products. What does he think of his concrete rail fencing? “It’s a showstopper. People park in the driveway and walk along looking at the fence. Todd’s organization — all I can say is they’re first-class. It’s the only way to go.”
That’s fulfilling feedback to Sternfeld.
“I love being able to impact other people’s lives with our product, because it makes their lives easier. The product has virtually no maintenance. I’ve got fences I put in 30-plus years ago that are still doing fine today.”
And it’s safe to say that same longevity mirrors a well-run business too.
Photography: Images courtesy Superior Concrete
From our January 2021 issue.