Not all sealcoating contractors are willing to tackle a 2.4-million-sq.-ft. job, especially a complex job that requires 7,000 sq. ft. of repairs and milling and pouring of two concrete pads. But Bayside Sealcoating & Striping, a small contractor working out of Camden, DE, had been laying the groundwork for a job like this, so when the opportunity arose, Dan Wallace and his father, Chuck, decided to give it a go.
"After a day or so on the job my Dad and I just looked at each other and said 'What did we get ourselves into?'" says Dan, vice president and manager. "Things weren't going as we'd planned and we were a little worried."
But the worry didn't last long. With years of successful sealcoating operations behind them, most of them less than 100,000 sq. ft. but also an important 600,000-sq.-ft. job, Bayside had learned lessons is was able to apply as it stepped up to the Big Job.
While Bayside Sealcoating is in its 25th year, it's only been owned by the Wallaces since 2000 when Chuck Wallace acquired it from the original owners. What Chuck bought when he bought the business was Bayside's only truck, the company name, and a customer list. They replaced the truck with a new vehicle almost immediately. "We wanted to put a second truck on the road, but we weren't able to because we had trouble getting enough good help to run a second crew," Dan says.
Since then they have transformed it from a weekend-only business. Once Dan got out of school five years ago Bayside began pursuing commercial contracts in an effort to move the company away from its driveway sealcoating roots, and the company has grown 20% to 30% every year by adding new customers while retaining original customers. "The last two years especially we have really pushed to get commercial work. We've even eased back on prices a little," Dan says.
But more than tightening their margins, Wallace says they try to make their mark with commercial customers by making a personal impression on every job, by making every effort to work with them, and by making sure to take care of them. "If they need prices broken out 25 different ways we'll do it; whatever they need," Dan says. "We tell our guys 'If there's any question that something needs to be done, if you question it, don't even question it, just do it.' We try to do something that sets us above everybody else."
And Bayside works to provide that little extra to its existing customers as well. "If you're my customer and you try someone else, and then you come back to me, you're a new customer and you're treated and priced like a new customer," Dan says. "If you're our customer, you're our customer. And if you're not, then you're not and you're a new customer. If you're a three-year customer you get a better price than a new customer. If you go and come back you're a new customer."
Currently Bayside generates 60% of sales from residential work and 40% from commercial work - a big change from the 100% weekend residential sealcoating the drove the company when Chuck Wallace acquired it. Wallace says 95% of Bayside's work is sealcoating (including crack repair), and 5% is striping performed on its own sealcoating jobs. Mike Masters, Dan Wallace's brother-in-law, does virtually all layout and striping. "Basically we only stripe behind our own work. We're too busy sealcoating all the time to pursue striping work by itself," Dan says.
Bayside employs five people full time, including Chuck and Dan. But they rely on what Dan terms an "endless list" of people who are available to work nights and weekends to help them handle the bigger jobs or jobs on tight deadlines.
"We compiled the list from construction industry contacts from the building market," Wallace says. "Word got around that if people needed some extra cash the opportunity was there, and we started getting calls and developing a list of people we can call when we need help. Sometimes it doesn't work out with some of the people but sometimes it does. There's a lot of work we couldn't be able to get done without our part-time help."