A lot of pavement maintenance contractors start their own business after working in the industry when they were younger. That’s exactly how Thomas Colucci got his start. After working in pavement maintenance through college, he started EWS Sealcoating in 2001 after graduating. EWS Sealcoating is a full service sealcoating, line striping, crack filling, and snow removal company in Utica, NY.
“We do about 70% of our work sealcoating, 20% crack filling, and the remaining 10% striping,” Colucci says. Snow removal makes up the majority of the company’s work in the winter months. EWS serves commercial and higher-end residential customers in the central New York area with about 65% of the customers coming from the commercial side. And the company does it with only two full-time and two part-time employees.
It might seem challenging for a small company to make it in the big city, but EWS has found success from the beginning. “We always try to increase our sales every year, and we’ve been able to increase them by 10% to 15% every year,” Colucci says.
Colucci says the snow removal and plowing services have helped his company. Snow removal services are split 70% commercial verses 30% residential customers. On the snow side of things, EWS has continued to increase its customer base 10% every year through word of mouth and cold calls. EWS’s snow equipment fleet consists of one dump truck, two pick-up trucks with plows, and a skid steer with plow attachment.
“I believe it helps a lot because our trucks have our advertising on them so when we’re out people see us,” Colucci says. Plus, EWS is able to get pavement maintenance business with some customers in the warm months and then does snow removal for those same customers in the winter months.
Colucci believes it’s the company’s professionalism, not necessarily the amount of work, that sets it apart from the competition. EWS employees are supplied with company shirts and pants so they all can conform to a company dress code which is designed to allow everyone to match and to make sure EWS employees don’t look sloppy on the job.
Aside from looking professional on the job, Colucci knows professionalism starts before a job is even awarded. That’s why he makes sure all customer calls and e-mails are responded to within a half hour time frame.
EWS keeps laptops in two of its vehicles and all employees are equipped with smart phones, Colucci says. “One employee on the crew is responsible for answering the phone and checking e-mails,” he says. Since all EWS employees grew up using this type of technology, they all understand its use and importance for the business, and they make sure they respond to all customer inquiries within the allotted time frame. “The employees know that if we have jobs then they have jobs,” Colucci says.
Colucci and his crew also know that being a professional means being honest with the customer. “We won’t try to talk a customer into something that won’t work for their pavement maintenance needs just to make a few bucks,” Colucci says. “In the long run, the return customer and word of mouth go a lot farther than anything else. One or two bad jobs and customers talk, and you won’t be in this business that long.”