Over the last 25 years contractors and manufacturers in the pavement maintenance industry have seen a need andhave responded by bringing something new to help improve their businesses. These innovations have moved the industry forward in either productivity, profitability, ease of the workday - or a combination of all three.
The May issue of Pavement Maintenance & Reconstruction looks at six such innovations - and here's a seventh. But these seven are certainly not the only innovations out there, so visit the Roundabout blog "25 Year of Industry Innovations" to read about other innovations and to let us know about how changes in technology, management, equipment or materials have affected the way you run your business.
Contractors are notorious for their independence but in recent years many have realized they can work together - both formally within a variety of different organizations and informally as networking buddies or simply as subcontractors - without sacrificing that independence.
Credit for that realization arguably can go to the Pavement Network, a 7-year-old organization of contractors from across the country that was the first group to recognize - and organize - to take advantage of what each contractor can bring to the table.
Currently the Pavement Network, which started with five members, has 14 member companies ranging in size from $5 million to $30 million in annual sales and performing all types of paving and pavement maintenance services. Members are thoroughly vetted before they are invited to join, and fairly hefty annual dues insure participants are serious about their involvement. Network members do operate as a buying group in certain instances, so reducing purchasing costs is one advantage - but it's not the reason the organization exists.
"The Pavement Network started as way to learn 'best practices' from other contractors and as a formal way to share ideas. That's the reason I got in," says Kevin Gosnell, president and CEO of T&K Asphalt Services, Whitman, MA, and current president of the Pavement Network. "The idea is that you can get a group of phenomenal companies together with high ethics and standards, and we all share information so we can learn from one another and leverage what we learn from one another."
He says every contractor operates a certain way, from running a crew to organizing a yard to compensating sales. "In many cases you're doing what you've done for so long that you don't even realize what you're doing; it's become just what you do," Gosnell says. "But once you get together and talk about what you're doing you might realize it's innovative and something other contractors can really benefit from. The idea is that with all this knowledge out there there's no reason for anyone to have to reinvent the wheel.
"The Pavement Network has had a profound impact on everyone that's belonged to it, and it's certainly played a huge role in helping bring the standard of the industry up. It's probably one of the best things I've ever done in this business," Gosnell says.
He says one of the goals of the Pavement Network is to better the industry as a whole. "I think the Pavement Network had an impact on the industry because the people who belong to the Pavement Network are strong people in their marketplace. Whenever you're a leader in a marketplace the people around you know to pay attention to what you're doing and try to compete with you. Pavement Network members set the bar for the pavement maintenance business in their market."
Throughout each year the Pavement Network holds "best practices" meetings to exchange and discuss ideas. Separate meetings are held for operations, sales, and owners - who meet twice a year.
Network members also refer business to one another. "If we refer clients to another Network member, and Network members do this a lot, we know we're handing that customer off to a first-class operation who will take care of our client for us," Gosnell says.
Gosnell says that an organization like the Pavement Network could not have existed many years before it did, and that is reinforced by the number of formal and informal alliances that have joined forces since then.
"The timing was right for something like that to happen," Gosnell says. "The industry had developed to the point where it had a lot of people with good creative ideas, and some good business people had entered the industry and realized they were there and could all benefit from one another."