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Back to school: Century High alums return to alma mater as the company works to improve sidewalk

Century High School graduates from the class of 2013 and 2014 were hired to do business at their alma mater. Carroll County Public Schools hired Foam Solutions Inc. to improve its sidewalks at the Eldersburg high school by raising the concrete rather than replacing it. Three alums who are part of the company were happy to return and provide a service to the place that helped them get where they are today. The three — Austin Haspert, Jake Slade and Barry Frankel Jr, the vice president of the company — were at their old high school on Monday and Tuesday repairing 224 feet of unleveled sidewalk in front of and around the building that was looked at as a possible tripping hazard.

“The [three] of us are very proud to be able to return to our alma mater,” Haspert said in an email. “Century [High School], the community, coaches and staff have helped form us into the men we are today, and we are thrilled at the opportunity to help Century and CCPS out with our work.”

Haspert, a 2014 graduate who has worked for the contractor since January, said he grew up across the street from Century and the company’s headquarters is near the school as well. E&F Contracting started out as a general contractor back in 1998. Much of their work was done on Johns Hopkins Hospital’s facilities. Five years ago, Haspert said, the hospital asked if they could help with concrete raising, and, at the time, they could not find anyone who was raising slabs of concrete with foam then Foam Solutions A Division of E & F Contracting was formed.

Now, the company does it all the time for homeowners, municipalities, and the public school system. The concrete raising method comes with multiple benefits: it saves at least 50% on costs, does not damage the surrounding landscape, it’s immediately ready for foot traffic and the foam is environmentally friendly, according to Frankel. “Most people don’t know about it so they spend a lot of money to replace it when it can simply be raised,” Haspert said.

Concrete Leveling Maryland - Concrete Raising Baltimore - Concrete Leveling Baltimore
Foam Solutions Inc (Formerly a Division of E & F Contracting) workers, from left, Jake Simmons, Jake Slade, Austin Haspert and Barry Frankel work on a sidewalk leveling project at Century High School in Eldersburg.

“It’s like when you get tires, you don’t buy new rims when you can just get the tires,” he said. “No need to get rid of the slabs if they’re good.” FSI was recommended to him by Randy Pentz, Century’s athletic director. Pentz said he didn’t do much, but simply told them who they could contact for business.

He said it was awesome to see them go into business together be successful. And it’s “always awesome to see the kids return ... because they want to be part of the school that they liked so much.”

Haspert said prior to joining FSI, he was working in corporate finance in Washington, D.C., which he said he enjoyed. But he wanted to return Carroll County and Sykesville. And now he’s “doing something I enjoy a little bit more.”

The 24-year-old also enjoys the people he works with more.

Slade, who graduated from Century in 2013, said on Monday while taking a break from the maintenance around 3 p.m., they’d been there since 6 a.m. He said the work is not too difficult and it saves the county and taxpayers a lot of money.

Foam Concrete Raising Baltimore - Foam Concrete Leveling Baltimore - Concrete Leveling - E & F Contracting
Jake Slade of FSI injects foam underneath the concrete sidewalk in front of Century High School in Eldersburg as he works to level the surface, part of a project his company, which features several Century High alumni, is completing for the school system. Slade is a 2013 Century graduate. (Dylan Slagle / Carroll County Times)

Slade said it’s good to be back at his alma mater but also great to give back to the community, and the place where he learned hard work, morals, and how to be a better person. He’s been with the company for two years and was brought on by Frankel, his friend, and former classmate who graduated a year after him.

Frankel said he had plans to grow the business. That’s what led him to hire his old classmates. Slade contributed to the work in the field, and Haspert was brought on to handle the operations and business development, he added. The VP said they have worked at a few different schools so far: Shiloh Middle School, Friendship Valley Elementary School, and Carroll Springs.

As Frankel stood outside the school on Monday, he said it was a strange feeling being back. “I never thought I’d be back doing this,” he added. “But here we are.”

Article Posted in Carroll County Times on Sunday, June 13, 2021

Written By: Kristen Griffith


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