Successful businesses frequently grow and evolve from surprisingly humble beginnings. Some of today's most notable companies and entrepreneurs serve as prime examples. Any number of factors can play a part in transforming an upstart operation into a flourishing corporation, but every success story seems to have one thing in common, the ability to find a specialized niche and to do it very well.
Few would guess from its name that Ace Asphalt of Arizona, Inc. was once a small Wisconsin pavement striping company called Parking Stripes, Inc. But that's precisely how the business began in 1966. Today Ace Asphalt's specialty is commercial paving, but even more unique is the broad repertoire of projects the company takes on. While Ace doesn't get involved with highway projects, almost everything else is fair game, from major site developments to small parking lot repairs.
Ace Asphalt's emphasis on commercial asphalt paving and other non-highway work would seem to indicate that it's the thing it does best. But its commitment to providing high-quality service for every customer, large or small, may be the real difference contributing to the company's continued success. It is also a sign that despite its growth, Ace hasn't abandoned its modest roots.
The company's journey from Wisconsin to Arizona was preceded by gradually increasing sales over time, followed by expanded service offerings, such as asphalt patching and seal coating. The most extraordinary step in company history occurred in 1981 when the local operations were sold and today's existing company was formed in Phoenix. To further capitalize on rapidly occurring growth in the state, a Tucson, Ariz., branch was later added, and the company began to provide earthwork and grading services as well.
With the aid of its 400 employees, Ace Asphalt completes 4,000 projects per year for total annual sales in excess of $80 million, making it the largest parking lot contractor in Arizona and one of the largest in the United States. Its project portfolio is diverse and impressive, ranging from random patching jobs to construction of the proving grounds for auto manufacturers DaimlerChrysler and Volvo.
The company's steady stream of projects puts increased demand on both crews and equipment to keep up with the workload. Since approximately 75-percent of Ace Asphalt's projects involve paving, its pavers see a lot of action. "One thing about our equipment is that it doesn't sit," said Tom Tuttle, the production general manager and 12-year veteran of Ace Asphalt.
Ace's fleet is composed primarily of commercial-class pavers, with a few highway-class machines on hand for wide-open heavy production areas. In recent years, Ace Asphalt looked in a new direction for their equipment needs, searching specifically for a machine that would be an ideal complement to the company's commercial paving specialty. When it came time for the company to add new pavers to its arsenal, Ace consulted with Road Machinery Co., a multi-state equipment distributor with its corporate headquarters in Phoenix. Road Machinery recommended that Ace Asphalt try out the new 814-2 mid-size self-propelled asphalt pavers from BOMAG.
"We checked out a company in town that was running a BOMAG paver," said Tuttle. "We were impressed, so we purchased a used 813 machine to try it out. We decided it was the way to go, and then we ordered three brand new 814-2 pavers." Ace's three new acquisitions were among the first of the model sold in the United States and brought the total number of pavers in Ace's fleet to 13.
With a standard paving width of 8 to 14 feet, the 814-2 was an ideal solution for the variety of commercial projects that Ace Asphalt performs. The company wasted no time in putting the BOMAG pavers to work, sending them to the construction site of the Mountain Vista Medical Center on a cleared stretch of desert terrain in Mesa, Ariz. Scheduled to open its doors in 2007, this new state-of-the-art, full-service hospital will hold 172 beds and have two connecting office buildings once completed.