This is a partial list of confirmed presenters. More will be added as we finalize our classes.
Don Armstrong, PE
Don is a National Engineer for Oldcastle Architectural Products Group and provides technical support for the design and construction of segmental retaining walls. He regularly presents to the engineering community design philosophy, methodologies, and current best practices for designing and installing segmental retaining walls. He is a graduate of Montana State University, a Professional Engineer licensed in multiple states and has over 30 years of experience in the field. He serves on the National Concrete Masonry Association (NCMA) Technical Committee and was heavily involved in the development of the NCMA Design Manuals and Best Practices documents.
Philip J. Bahler is a hardscaper, landscape designer, tool inventor, speaker, and educator. He is the proud owner of Paver Tool Innovators, a hardscape tool store where his tool designs are featured.
In 1985 Phil started a hardscaping business with his brothers and called it Bahler Brothers. He found the need to invent tools to make his job easier, to increase quality and production efficiencies and to save his body from the grueling task of hardscaping. He and his brothers grew the business to 30 employees with 4 fulltime sales team designers and 12 installation crews. In 2006, Pave Tool was launched to offer hardscapers Phil’s complete tool line.
Phil is an active member of the ICPI, NCMA. His tools and knowledge have been featured in several magazines including Hardscape Magazine and Landscape Contractor Magazine.
To date, Phil has created over 45 Made in America quality tools and is launching another 5 products this year. His motto, “Take the “Hard” out of Hardscaping.”
Justin Baker has been with the NJDOL Division of Public Safety and Occupational Safety and Health for 17 years. He began his career at NJDOL as a Safety Compliance Officer with the PEOSH program performing public sector enforcement inspections. He later worked as an Industrial Hygienist in the OSHA On-Site Consultation Program helping private sector employers comply with OSHA regulations and keeping their employees safe. Justin now manages a group of 16 Occupational Safety and Health professionals providing Consultation and Training services to both public and private sector employers.
Matt Basara is a successful business owner of a video production and digital media agency. He currently is the Corporate Videographer for EP Henry. With over 10 years of experience, Matt brings a wealth of knowledge and fresh perspectives on technical and mechanical ideas. Over the years, he has crafted methods on maximizing his growth as a business owner. He has worked with countless regional, national, and international brands.
Randy Bianchi joined the Techniseal team in September of 2020 servicing the New England market. Prior to that, he ran a hardscape cleaning & restoration and re-sanding business for 10 years in MA & CT. Bianchi has completed over 800 hardscape restoration jobs over the last decade since beginning in the industry. He is well versed in the technical aspects of the entire Techniseal line as well as the technical details of all things hardscape maintenance and restoration.
Joe Ciszek is the Product Specialist for decking, railing and other outdoor accents at Barrette Outdoor Living. He plays a role in new product development and is responsible for the continued education customers and internal staff. The feedback he gets in the field helps mold existing and future products at Barrette.
Don Clayton is Vice President of Allan Block Corporation has been dedicated to the hardscape industry for over 20 years. He has worked directly with contractors to train them on proper SRW installation techniques, estimating tools, and ways to improve their business. He’s also worked with Engineers, Architects and Building Officials to educate them on proper SRW design approaches to ensure that every project is a success.
Kevin Earley is a LEED Green Associate and licensed Professional Geologist with a M.S. in Engineering Geology from Drexel University. As Director of Commercial Hardscapes for Oldcastle APG, he provides hardscaping technical sales support to all APG operations. Kevin is one of the contributing Principal Authors of the ASCE’s Permeable Pavement Manual and is active with the Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute, chairing various committees over the past 10 years and currently chairs ICPI’s Foundation Program Committee. He is a member of three ASCE Standards Committees related to interlocking concrete pavement design and is a voting member of ASTM where he is involved in unit concrete paver standards. Mr. Earley has over 25 years’ experience related to concrete products used for commercial applications.
Jim has been a proactive member of the Green Industry for over 20 years with extensive experience in design, sales and installation of hardscape, softscape and low voltage landscape lighting systems. As part of the Tru team for over 5 years he has been a key member and has been involved in all aspects of the business. Jim has a key focus on education, helping contractors grow their outdoor living business with the addition of low voltage landscape lighting to their portfolio of product offerings.
Bill Gardocki is the former owner of Interstate Landscape Co., Inc. in Londonderry NH. He is a graduate of the University of New Hampshire with degrees in Education and Horticulture. He is a past president of the New Hampshire Landscape Association, The Greater Derry Chamber of Commerce, and the Londonderry Friends of Music. Bill has over 45 years’ experience as an installer of hardscape. He is an ICPI and NCMA Certification Instructor and has been a featured speaker at many shows including Hardscape North America, MAHTS, and the Northeast Hardscape Expo.
Sarah Griffith and her husband Kevin work together to operate Scaped Outdoors – a Pennsylvania-based hardscape and excavation company. Sarah focuses on all of the business sides of Scaped Outdoors.
She spent the first seven years of her career teaching business education at State College Area School District. Her specialty areas are marketing and social media. She also has served as the Dean of Students for the district during her time working for State College. In addition to teaching, Sarah also has 10 years of experience working in social media marketing and direct sales.
Her undergraduate degree is from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania where she majored in business, computer, and information technology education (K-12 cert). Her master’s studies were at Penn State University where she focused on educational leadership.
Sarah and her husband have three small children and love running the business together as a couple.
Jeff Hesser is a landscape lighting designer, installer, and educator with 32+ years of experience in the industry. He’s well known for his passion, energy, and expertise. A former contractor, Jeff has worked hands-on with hundreds of landscape professionals helping them launch their landscape lighting businesses.
Rob Hipszer has been involved in the planning, design, sales, and construction of over two million square feet of commercial segmental retaining walls. Drawing on twenty-five years of experience with mechanically stabilized earth systems and working with civil engineers, geotechnical firms, wall designers, and block manufacturers, Rob has gained a unique perspective on how far these systems have come and what can be done to improve them. Prior to Oldcastle he served as the East Region Manager for Engineered Structures with TenCate Geosynthetics covering the eastern third of the US.
Andrew Ludewig is the Digital Creative Manager for EP Henry and a photographer for a small business he created over 12 years ago. He is a graduate of the Art Institute of Philadelphia, with a degree is Graphic Design. He has almost 20 years of marketing experience. He has created a library of highly sought after skills, including, social media, SEO, graphic design, photo manipulation, photography, and IT.
Jeremy is the owner of Willow Gates Landscaping, which he co-founded in 2005. He has over 15 years of experience in the hardscape industry, and over 20 years in the landscape industry. His responsibilities include project design, product specification, estimating, and sales. Jeremy launched Dust Killer Tools in 2018, a silica dust collection system for hardscapers. He resides in eastern PA with his wife Rosene & 6 children. Jeremy is involved with the industry as an ICPI and NCMA instructor, becoming an authorized ICPI instructor in 2016 and NCMA SRW instructor in 2018. He is an instructor for ICPI’s Concrete Paver Installer, Residential Specialist, and PICP Specialist courses as well as NCMA’s SRW Basic Installer course. He has a passion for educating other contractors and introducing the trade to high school students. Jeremy is a frequent guest contributor to Hardscape Magazine.
Daniel Moreland, LEED GA, CDT, CCPR is a member of the ICPI-NCMA Technical and Certification Sub-Committees as well as serving as Chairman for the ICPI-NCMA Commercial Technical Promotion Advisory Committee. As an ICPI instructor, he has taught certified paving contractor courses in six states including at Hardscape North America. Recently he was selected as a judge for the 2022 Northeastern Hardscape Expo Paver Installer Competition in Hartford, CT. Dan has also hosted hundreds of AIA hardscapes CE courses across the Northeast US over the past 15 years. He currently is a Belgard Architectural Representative for Oldcastle APG, a company he has worked at for over 20 years.
Owner and Principal Designer for Ledden Palimeno Design, an International award winning Design-Build firm specializing in fine outdoor living, exhibits and events. Joe’s passion and design philosophy is to create functional and usable outdoor spaces that capture the desires and tastes of the client and blend them seamlessly into the surrounding environment and architecture of the house and property. As a consultant for the Green Industry, Joe is a speaker at many workshops and conferences across the Country on Design-Build and Marketing. Joe is a multiple Best in Show award winner at the prestigious Philadelphia Flower Show and for his first appearance at the Singapore Garden Festival in 2012, Joe received Best in Show and Gold. Joe is a Trailblazer for the NALP-(National Association of Landscape Professionals) and serves as chairman of the board for FEWA-(Federation of Employers and Workers of America) and is a member of ASLA-(American Society of Landscape Architects), and PHS-(Pennsylvania Horticultural Society).
Aaron is in his 8th year with Techniseal and his 11th year in the hardscape industry. He first was introduced to hardscapes by managing a paver and retaining wall dealership in Greenville, SC. He joined Techniseal in 2015 as a regional sales manager covering the Carolinas and Virginia. Aaron now travels across the United States as he manages a team of sales professionals from Miami to Seattle. Aaron attended Clemson university and still lives in the Clemson, SC area today. Along with his sales duties at Techniseal Aaron is also the Director of Belgard and Techniseal Racing. The Techniseal motorsports program will be going into its 3rd season in 2023. Aaron takes pride in all of his work at Techniseal but is most proud of the position they have established over the years as the industry innovator in hardscape accessories.
Joe Raboine oversees the Belgard Residential Program. He collaborates with both sales and marketing to ensure that contractors and dealers are receiving best-in-class service, products, and experiences. He hosts webinars and podcasts, and presents at industry events on design trends, product innovations, and industry best practices. Joe also oversees the Belgard Design Studio team and received an Innovation Award for developing the concept.
Joe started his career as a contractor over 25 years ago. He is credited with inventing the prefabricated components of the Elements Collection through his company, Harmony Outdoor Living, Inc., which was acquired by Oldcastle® in 2013.
Gary Ross is a Speaker, Trainer, Coach, Author, and the Founder of Allies in Leadership. He has over 36 years of sales and leadership experience. Gary holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Human Resource Management from Palm Beach Atlantic University and earned his certificate of Supervisory Development from the University of Notre Dame. Gary is an Executive Director with the John Maxwell Team and recognized as a Certified Sales Professional by completing the Sales Professional Program at Florida State University
Lainie Sleppin is the Northeast Regional Sales Director for MoistureShield. She is a National Board Member of the North American Deck and Rail Industry Association and has been in the deck manufacturing industry for over two decades. The majority of her experience has been working in the channel with major distributor partners and lumber dealers. Lainie’s expertise in decking has presented her with the opportunity to be a resource for those in the business, creating value through sales and marketing strategies. In addition, she has been a featured speaker at industry events, was named to 2020 HBS Top Women in Hardware and Building Supply, as well as being certified by NADRA’s Deck Evaluation Safety Course.
Thomas Smith entered the world of fish and water features simply by selling fish out of his garage. By 1991 his unforeseen success led him to establish Garden State Koi and consequently rented some space in a small nursery in Greenville, N.J. After a few years, the need to expand was clear, so he moved to a large facility in Warwick, N.Y.
Tom regularly says he should have changed the name then, when he left the Garden State and came to New York, but he opted to keep the brand he had developed with his customers. Over the last 22 years, Tom’s incredible leadership and dedication to customer service has led to exponential growth and an amazing family-like atmosphere at Garden State Koi.
Ryan Stucki is a design engineer at Verti-Crete, LLC, a Utah-based manufacturer of forming systems for precast concrete fences and walls. In addition to designing new precast products, he regularly hosts video trainings for engineers and sales teams, including analysis software for big block walls using NCMA design criteria. Ryan holds a degree in mechanical engineering from Brigham Young University and has played a role in the design of many residential and large-scale commercial walls in the U.S. and internationally.
Tom Tomaro has nearly 30 years in the hardscape industry, taking advantage of knowledge acquired from his father, himself a stone and brick mason of 40 years. With the help of his wife and business partner Barb, his company, Diamond Landscaping, Inc has evolved into a full-service, award-winning company in the Pittsburgh region. Tom has been an ICPI Authorized Instructor for the past 18 years and is also a Certified NCMA. He also holds Certifications from the School for Advanced Segmental Paving and is a Co-Instructor. Tom holds a Degree in Finance/Quantitative Business Analysis from Robert Morris University.
Michael Tous, Grass Masters, Inc.
Michael is Vice President and co-owner of Grass Masters, Inc., a full-service hardscaping design build and lawn maintenance-company located in Lumberton, New Jersey. He has over 30 years of experience in the hardscape industry. Michael is an ICPI certified instructor and is fluent in both English and Spanish. Mike has been a longtime supporter of MAHTS, dedicating his time and expertise, instructing courses for his industry peers. Mike holds both ICPI and NCMA certifications and over the years has led a variety of Hands-on training skills in both the English and Spanish languages.
Harrison Woytko has over 15 years of experience as an installer of hardscape with Boulder Landscape, LLC, a landscape & hardscape design/build company located in Berwick, PA. They provide commercial & residential maintenance, along with a primary focus on the residential landscape & hardscape design/build market. Boulder is a family owned & operated business with a reputation for providing custom landscape/hardscape solutions and high levels of customer service. Harrison continues to be responsible for all day-to-day operations of the company and can be found in the field on most days, actively involved in all phases of their hardscape projects. He is a CCPI (which includes a) a residential specialist designation. Prior to Boulder Landscape, Harrison was an engineer in the manufacturing and oil field sectors. He holds a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Delaware. Harrison is a member of both the ICPI & NCMA and serves on the Hardscapes Construction & Segmental Pavement Technical Subcommittees for ICPI.