When David Gemmill formed D.E. Gemmill in 1986 he was the sole owner and employee for the pavement marking company. Twenty-one years later his business has grown both in size and industry. Gemmill, who is president of the company, says he has anywhere from 18 to 22 employees who are spread across the pavement marking, asphalt maintenance, traffic control, and signage markets. These divisions of D.E. Gemmill serve Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware and Northern Virginia, but most of the company's work is in the South-Central part of Pennsylvania.
Four years after Gemmill started the company, contractors' needs prompted its expansion. "We've tried to become a one-source supplier for our contractors that we do work with," he says. "It has allowed us to grow our business and encompass a larger volume of work through one single project." In fact, serving multiple areas and divisions of the market has increased some project dollar values as much as 300% to 400%, Gemmill says.
Despite expanding into other markets over the years, pavement marking has been the core business for D.E. Gemmill from the beginning, and it continues to grow. But the sign and pavement maintenance divisions are growing as well and beginning to catch up to the pavement marking side of the business. Gemmill says 35% to 38% of the company's business comes from its sign division.
D.E. Gemmill's participation in different areas of the market has enabled the company to be hired and contracted to do projects of all sizes. "We do anything from the 20- to 25-space parking lot all the way up to road projects that consist sometimes up to eight miles of road," he says. In 2007, a previous client offered D.E. Gemmill an opportunity for one of those large-scale projects.
Getting the big one
In 2007, the Hershey Company awarded D.E. Gemmill a bid to work on an addition to the Hershey Giant Center. The Hershey Giant Center, Hershey, PA, is host to multiple sporting and large scale events. On the Giant Center project D.E. Gemmill's responsibilities included striping a parking lot addition of 2,100 spaces as well as relocating old and creating new directional signs. A new ring road for entering and exiting also had to be striped. The company was in charge of both temporary and permanent road striping for the new ring road.
Insights into the bid
When it came to bidding the project Gemmill says the company put a lot of time and effort into its bid. The company reviewed the project plans and discussed possible issues that could arise because the Giant Center was not a new building and it would be open during construction. Gemmill says he included both management and pavement marking foremen in the discussions to get the most comprehensive view of potential issues. A walk through of the actual site was done as well. During the walk through, photographs were taken so employees could get a better look at the site in advance.
The sign portion of the job was also looked at carefully. Gemmill says they paid close attention to the colors and letters on the existing signs to ensure matches could be made for touch-ups and new signs. Cranes would also be needed to move and place the signs, so D.E. Gemmill included crane quotes in its bid.
One of the most difficult aspects of the bid was considering all of the coordination that needed to be planned for the project, according to Gemmill. Since the Hershey Giant Center and the access roads would remain open during the job, worker safety was a concern. Gemmill also knew that the project would require some long days, and he factored overtime hours into the bid as well.
"Hershey Entertainment is associated with Hershey Chocolate Company, and we felt that it was very important to make sure this project went smoothly, was coordinated properly, and that they were pleased with the end result," Gemmill says.