Orchestration is the key to anything in this business," says Lars Ingerslev, president, Competitive Asphalt Coatings Inc., Norco, CA. "If you have a system you're going to be that much farther ahead of the game. If you don't have a system you're going to lose. We had a system on this job, we implemented it, and it worked. And as I look back at it there wasn't another way to do it."
Probably not. So even though he's only been in business for himself for three years, his more than 20 years of pavement maintenance experience really helped Competitive Asphalt Coatings handle a 4 million-sq.-ft. sealcoating and striping job on the parking lots of California Speedway.
"No question it was the biggest job I'd ever taken on," Ingerslev says. "I'd done a 1.5 million-sq.-ft. job with my previous company, and we'd done a couple of 600,000-sq.-ft jobs but nothing on my own approaching a million square feet yet. But I wasn't worried about it at all. I didn't even blink. We just decided that whatever we do regularly we're just going to do on a bigger scale. It was a 4-million-sq.-ft. job, and it's just a big version of a 600,000 sq. ft. job, and that's how I looked at it."
"Hours and material, that's the bottom line if you're going to make money in this business," Ingerslev says. "Bid it tight and strong and bid it so we can make some money if we do it right. Then do it right. It was more of a challenge to me just to see if we could do it, just to see if we could do it in the five days we said we would - and we did."
Ingerslev had worked in the paving and pavement maintenance industry for 18 years before starting Competitive Asphalt Coatings in 2005. He had worked 18 years for another contractor, including the last four years on the job as an estimator, and he had done "everything except for payables and receivables." With encouragement from a friend, Brenda (who he married in July), he sold his house and used much of the money to build a 2,500-gal. sealcoating tank, buy a Graco LineLazer and a 325-gal. Anders sealcoating buggy, and jumped in. Three seasons into business he has 21 employees and operates two 2,500-gal. tanks, three Anders sealcoating machines, a Kubota truck with a 14-ft. squeegee, a bobtail dump truck, six LineLazers, two LineDrivers, a Bomag 3-5 ton roller, and five F450 and F550 Ford trucks. Ingerslev says 65% of his work is from pavers who don't sealcoat or stripe; the remaining 35% is from property managers. He says 80% of the work is sealcoating and striping, and 20% is patching and overlays.
Brenda has handled all the office work from a room in their home - until recently when the company acquired a location with a yard and an office building - and the next step is to provide office support for her.
"We are just so busy it's almost out of control, but it's the greatest thing that could ever have happened to us," Ingerslev says.
"This business is all I know, and it's coming pretty easy except for the office stuff," he says. "Everything about production is under control. I have that dialed-in because that's what I'm good at."
And that's a good thing because he needed all his production skills to get the California Speedway job done on time and for profit. Early this year California Speedway decided it needed to increase parking from 14,000 spaces to 15,000 spaces in four of the parking lot's five sections, so they wanted to reconfigure all their striping.
"They wanted me to black out the existing parking lines and restripe it to add parking spaces," Ingerslev says. "I told them that the black lines are going to be so easy to see on the grey asphalt that it will look like a mess and also be confusing for drivers once the new stripes are down. So they thought about it a while and asked me how much it would cost to sealcoat 4 million sq. ft. first."
There were two other bidders on the job, but the contract went to Competitive Asphalt to black out existing striping, apply one coat of sealer in each of the four 1-million-sq.-ft. sections, then layout and stripe 15,000 parking stalls. As soon as he was awarded the bid Ingerslev took his crew to the site and walked the job with them.