National Pavement Expo 2011

Contractors and exhibitors braved the weather making their way to the National Pavement Expo Feb. 2-5 in Nashville. Attendees had the opportunity to choose from 54 sessions with topics such as sales and marketing, employee management, and improving efficiency.

More than 1500 contractors walked the exhibit floor consisting of both new and returning exhibitors. Among content exhibitors was first-time exhibitor Green Ways Plus, which hoped to "further cultivate their organic culture," according to Tim Bruchez.

"Agricultural responsibility and pure performance at a better price then the competition is what makes our de-icing and liquid anti-icing products the preferred choice," Bruchez said.

He said the company's focus in exhibiting the first time was on finding strategic partnerships with paving contractors who could benefit from the use of or become a distributor of an environmentally friendlier product line for de-icing and liquid anti-icing.

"At the end of the show and with all things tallied, success!" Bruchez says. "Green Ways Plus agricultural de-icing alternatives and liquid anti-icers made a splash and sparked heavy interest from the shows attendees, primarily pavement company owners and the management team.

Safety Training Put into Practice by Contractor Sweepers

Sweeping safety was the focus in "Sweeper Safety and Operating Techniques that Protect Operators - And Your Business," one of three sessions available free to members of the North American Power Sweeping Association.

Jim Green of the Alamo Group led the session offering contractors a variety of safety tips. According to Green, because sweeping contractors work in environments where safety is important it is essential that all members of a sweeping team should be aware of safety practices including maintenance and operation.

Green said there are three tiers of safety: Good, safe equipment; an operator's manual; and training. "All people are important to the success of the business," Green said, so all employees should be following safe business practices. "You have to trust and respect the people you work with so you can count on them."

Green suggests contractors follow the "tell, show, do, review" approach. Tell your employees what proper operation and safety practices are. Show them those methods. Ask them to do the methods themselves. And then review the entire process with them. A combination of visual, audio, and hands-on teaching methods can help ensure everyone is learning in the way they prefer.

Safe operation starts with proper maintenance checks. Green suggests that a written check of the equipment should be completed every day. A pre-operation maintenance check is essential so no unsafe equipment is being sent on a job. It can be helpful to also do a post-operation maintenance check. These checks allow operators and the maintenance crew to compare how the equipment was working before the day started to how it is working after the work day is complete.

If you're sending your crews out on unsafe equipment, proper safety practices may not prevent accidents or unsafe conditions. Make sure equipment is in good, safe working condition and operators know and practice safe operation.

Sealcoating Regs Session Draws Crowd

With almost 200 attendees, members of the Pavement Coatings Technology council presented the "Sealcoating: Regulatory Challenges and Industry Initiatives" session.

Mike Juba, Koppers Industries; Bob DeMott, DABT Environ; Kirk O'Reilly, JD Exponent; and PCTC Executive Director Anne LeHuray did a great job of distilling and simplifying the complex science and regulatory issues faced by the sealcoating industry and outlined steps PCTC is taking to fight unfair regulation.

Attendees as the seminar received a DVD of the importance of sealcaoting and sealcoating best practices. That video is available for viewing at Pavement Online.

Contractors Gain Strategies for Successful Sales

Jeff Stokes, Next Level Contractor System, warned contractors that selling shouldn't just be an afterthought. In his workshop, "Successful Sales for Pavement Maintenance Pros," Stokes encouraged contractors to create a sales system and train their sales team with several suggestions.

He stressed that communication is always important as well as developing a system or process to ensure success with the knowledge of what approach works the best. Another point Stokes made was creating a sales system that starts before meeting with a client in order to "funnel" which clients should be pursued. According to Stokes, contractors must always be prepared before the first meeting by having all of the materials necessary to educate the customer. It is pertinent for the contractor to understand that the objective of the first sales call is to make a good impression, not necessarily get the sale. Stokes said that building relationships takes time and may take multiple "touches" before reaching a relationship status where the customer is ready to buy your services.

Another piece of advice Stokes had for contractors was the faster a customer could see contractors as someone of value the better. He also said that contractors must know the different buyers they might or will be selling to in order to create different questions to ask each buyer. Always ask open-ended questions to get more information for the customer. Finally, Stokes said that contractors must take the time to develop the best and most successful strategy, and then they must take the time to teach it to their team.

NPE 2012 Moves to Memphis

For the first time in its 27-year history National Pavement Expo will be held in Memphis, TN, at the downtown Memphis Cook Convention Center. Dates are Feb. 15-18, 2012. Be sure to sign onto Pavement's Facebook page to get regular updates on sights, sounds and places to dine in Memphis!