Some people might view Worthington Paving as a throwback to the good old days when "hands-on" was the way of the world, when integrity was expected, and when doing it right the first time was the only way to do business.
If that's how they view it, so be it. Dave Worthington, second-generation owner of the 46-year-old paving company in Visalia, CA, wouldn't care. He's just doing what worked for his father, what's worked well for himself, and what he's teaching his son who plans on taking over the family business.
"My 10 fingers do the work," Worthington says. "I'm out with the guys every day. That way when I walk away I know it's done right. And I enjoy the work. If you don't enjoy the work, get out of the business."
And while it's clear Dave Worthington likes the business, enjoyment of the job is not what makes Worthington Paving successful. What has made him an in-demand contractor in the Visalia area is his solid reputation that precedes him on commercial and subcontracting jobs. He is successful because he is a hands-on contractor, because he insists on doing it right the first time, and because he's skilled enough and flexible enough to juggle a variety of work ranging from shoveling mix into a pothole to grading and paving a good-sized parking lot.
Worthington says grading and paving are mainstays of the company and always have been. He says 60% of the work is paving, 20% is grading, and 20% is sealcoating, which the company added in 1973. He says 20% of the company's work is subcontracted from larger area companies, who he makes every effort to take care of. "We do a lot of small stuff the big guys don't want to do," Worthington says.
Worthington Paving was started by Dave's father, John, in 1946 as a paving and grading company and little has changed since then. Dave grew up in his father's business, John earned his contractor's license in the early 1960s, and Dave received his C-12 license (excavating, paving, grading, trenching and surfacing ) in 1973. In 1978 he received his A license (general engineering), and in 1986 he bought the company from his father. His son, Chandler, will soon receive his C-12 license. Employees are hired seasonally but rarely does the entire team total more than four people.
And Worthington has worked for the industry, too, serving on the state contractor licensing board and working on the state's committee to update construction licensing test.
"I was one of those who convinced them to add a parking lot section to the test," Worthington says. "Before it only focused on roads and, as we all know, that's only a part of what paving and grading contractors do."
Reputation and integrity
Worthington doesn't advertise much outside of the Yellow Pages, which he swears by, and he's tried advertising on the Internet with mixed success. "We don't worry too much about marketing because the best advertising we've got is word of mouth," Worthington says. "We've got a great reputation, built up over the years, and that's what opens a lot of doors for us."
He says the reputation stems directly from his and his father's approach to the business.
"We stand behind our work, it's as simple as that," he says. "And we are able to stand behind our work because there's only one way to do it, the right way, so let's do it right. That's what makes us successful."
"Ours is a hands-on business. I'm right there on every job with the guys and I can see what's going on, so I know it's going to be done right," he says. "I always tell them 'Let's take a little more time and do it right the first time. Go-backs cost money'."
He says his reputation plays a role with both new customers and in the jobs he gets as a subcontractor.
"We're more of a mid-to-high-priced contractor but because of our reputation that's never been an issue. I know for a fact my customers have said 'If you need a job done, call Dave Worthington' and we do get those calls. And while we've had people say we're a little more money than some contractors they give us the job anyway. They say 'we know you'll do it right.'"