Tackling its biggest job
The 1 million-sq.-ft. job was for AMC Cantera 30, a movie theater complex in Warrenville. In addition to the main lot that served the theater the property includes six out lots, each serving a restaurant. None of the work could be done on the weekends as Friday, Saturday, and Sunday are the theater's bread-and-butter days, and the restaurants were concerned about the work chasing away customers.
"We feel it's our job to try to help the customers schedule their work. We've been around long enough to know when we will be likely to disrupt them the least and we try to help them out with that," Maul says. "We'll do it whenever they want but we do have some experience and insights in this and we try to pass that along."
Maul says the company tries to schedule work on retail properties for Monday through Thursday and tries to schedule office buildings on weekends. Because Illinois has "blue laws" that prevent car dealers from selling on Sundays they try to schedule any dealership work on Sunday.
Maul says they try to discourage night sealcoating because they feel the material doesn't hold up as well and because if the goal is to open the parking lot in the morning it's not often ready if they seal at night and the client is upset.
"Also, we feel that if you work at night a lot it ruins your crew. They're used to early morning starts and then they have to work late, it just makes it very difficult on the crew," he says. "Safety also is a concern because there's a greater chance for error because the workers are fatigued."
Maul Asphalt actually started work on the project in July, when they performed remove-and-replace repairs on 25,000 sq. ft. of potholes and spider-webbed pavement. Once that was done they scheduled the job for four days, starting right after Labor Day.
"Our big sell is pre-planning. You can't show up to a job this size without plans," Maul says. So after Maul Asphalt had determined how it was going to approach the work, they contacted the client and brought him into the planning.
"The size of the job made planning essential," Maul says. "After we had everything set we walked the lot with the customer because it brings the customer into the job."
Maul relied on the client to communicate what was going to happen to the various tenants, and then Maul followed up with the tenants to make sure they were on board.
"We're very sensitive to their schedule and we've done enough jobs where we can tell them when we don't want to seal because they won't be able to open their parking lot in the morning," he says. "We told them we're sealing, we told them where people can park so they can still get to the restaurant, and we told them where we were going to rope off some walkways from some parking areas to the restaurants to make it easier for their customers. Communicating with the people whose businesses we are affecting is crucial on any job but especially on a job of this size."
He says that just as important is communicating with the sealer supplier.
"A lot of people don't bother to plan with suppliers, but we keep them in the loop on any large-size job," Maul says. "We want them to know our concerns, we want them to know our schedule, you have to make sure you have the sealer when you need it and your supplier has to be on-board with that. You have to plan material issues because if you don't have material your guys are standing around on the clock waiting for a delivery."
Plus then the job could be delayed, making the client upset.
"Communicating with the supplier is as important as communicating with your customer, that's just how we feel," Maul says.
A switch to asphalt sealer
Maul says the Cantera 30 job was the first time they'd ever used an asphalt-based sealer, but they felt they had little choice. Originally the job was supposed to happen in the spring but it was delayed to summer, then it was pushed to after Labor Day. And the schedule called for the local SealMaster franchise four tankers (20,000 gallons of pre-mix) of material at the site right after Labor Day.
"With all that was happening last year with coal tar we felt we were going to have a problem getting enough coal tar sealer and we didn't want to want to sealcoat half the lot with coal tar and half the lot with asphalt because it would be noticeably different because of the sheen," Maul says.