I've been working in the concrete industry for nearly four decades. I started Rick Ogden Construction in 1977 in Temple, Texas, though my concrete life began in 1972 in Tampa, Florida. In 1980, I moved my company and my family back to Oklahoma, where I was originally from. I've done all types of concrete work—residential, commercial, industrial repair—but over the last two decades I've spent more and more of my time doing decorative concrete. I still do all types of concrete, but my emphasis is mostly on stamping, staining, and, since 2004, building countertops and concrete furniture, such as tabletops, coffee tables, end tables, reception area tables…pretty much whatever people want that is unique and intriguing.
When I began working on concrete tables, I expected it to be a small part of Rick Ogden Construction. I thought I might sell a few at garden centers or as a part of larger residential jobs. What I didn't expect was that it would turn into such a soul-fulfilling use for my experience with decorative concrete.
In January of 1966, I joined the U.S. Army (the Army knows me as Sgt. James R. Ogden, Retired) and went to basic training at Ft. Bliss, Texas (in condemned barracks that we reworked before we started training). I then went on to advanced infantry training at Ft. Dix, New Jersey, and then to Jump School at Ft. Benning, Georgia. After Jump School, I went to Ft. Campbell, Kentucky and joined B Company 1st 502nd of the 101st Airborne Division. While with B Company, I went to Ranger School, graduating on May 24th, 1967. Interestingly enough, my first combat mission after graduation was in Detroit, Michigan, during the July and August 1967 meltdown of downtown Detroit. I'm glad I never had a “situation” during that mission because it was a weird time and condition. When we returned from Michigan, I had orders for the Republic of Vietnam.
In Vietnam, I was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division at Phan Rang. The day I got there I heard that they were forming a Long Range Patrol company, and with my Ranger training I thought I would enjoy that type of service. I volunteered and became one of the founding members of E Company 20th Infantry Long Range Patrol, 1st Field Force RVN. Over the next few months, my company went to the Special Forces Recondo School in Nha Trang and got ready to start operations by late November, 1967. The rest is history. We had good people, all volunteers and well trained, and I think we generally did a good job at what we were supposed to do. Then, on July 24th, 1968, I was shot in the right chest area by an AK-47. I was lucky enough to get my team out of a very bad situation and we all survived. On October 28th, 1968, I was discharged from the Army and moved back to Oklahoma.
Like so many returning veterans, I had some “adjustment” problems when I got home. I did go to college and received a degree in Agronomy, which I then used to last 88 days in the corporate world with the Eli Lilly company. It was after this that I got in the concrete business. As the years went by, I communicated with only one E Company friend. Eventually, that stopped as well.
One night three years ago, I was surfing the Internet and typed in "E Co 20th Infantry." To make a long story a little shorter, that search led to me getting reacquainted with many of my E Company “brothers” and many C Company 75th Infantry, Airborne Rangers (which E Company had evolved into in 1969 in RVN). At that time, I had been making tables for a couple of years, so I offered to make one with the 1st Field Force insignia E Company brother, 1SG Joey Welsh. When it was done, I took it to him near San Antonio. Then I offered to make a presentation table to any of the guys who chatted regularly on a small, mainly E Company and Charlie’s Ranger website forum. A lot of guys took me up on the offer, and I have taken a table to each one that wanted one, with a few more left to take to end my mission.
I have enjoyed these reunions immensely and have found that I really enjoy creating these tables. What started as me tinkering around in my warehouse has turned into something really meaningful for me and the guys who have received them. The reactions are mostly the same. The sense of honor and sacrifice is overwhelming. There is something about these unique tables that identifies a part of each one of us; a part of our lives that we lived or are living that gives us an inner satisfaction about what we have done.
Since making these tables for the guys in E Company, I have decided to make a table for anyone that might like one. I can include a unit designation, area of operation, or whatever suits each table. Because of the process, each table will be unique, no two alike. I will have to charge for these tables, but I'm going to try to keep the cost as affordable as I can. I do these tables by hand and by myself. They do weight from 100 pounds on up, are tough, and can be used for anything any table can be used for. But they tell our story; no other table does that.
Thank you for your interest and your service and sacrifices.
Every Table Uniquely Made
I make each table. No two tables will be alike.
Each table will have a small Ms. Reta’s Stoneworks stamped into it somewhere. Reta is my wife and, as those close to me know, has put up with more than a person should have to in one lifetime.
The topcoats on the tables are epoxy or polyurea, depending if the table will be used inside or out. Both coatings are extremely tough and cleaning is done with a damp cotton cloth. I have different bases, they are powder coated steel and are extremely strong.
These tables are built to last. Durable and reliable, these tables can be passed from one generation to the next.
Please look at the examples below. (click to enlarge)