Chico >> Chico State University student Alex Van Dewark is a regular listener of “How I Built This,” an NPR podcast about innovators and entrepreneurs and the products and movements they create.
The podcast has been the soundtrack for many road trips from Vacaville, where Van Dewark works as a firefighter to Chico, where he lives and studies entrepreneurship at the university.
On those long drives across the north state, Van Dewark never imagined that he would one day get to share his own story on the podcast, but last month the Chico State senior who hopes to graduate in the spring did just that, speaking about MixMat, the company he started with his father.
Van Dewark has spent years thinking about concrete.
While working with his dad’s construction company, Van Dewark frequently had to use wheelbarrows and shovels to create concrete and found the process cumbersome. Van Dewark and his father eventually decided to try something quicker, mixing cement and water in a tarp.
That worked pretty well,Van Dewark said, but they struggled with leakage. The self-described ‘wannabe entrepreneur’ decided he needed to create his own product, something made from stronger material that could form into a bowl-shape when held. Van Dewark spent years tracking down the proper materials and factories that could produce the product he envisioned, what is now known as the MixMat.