The bank's owners mandated the project be paved on Veterans Day while the bank was closed. Many times the contractor will pave a bank parking area while the bank is open for business, but not this bank. APM also worked within other various constraints, including a very low ambient temperature in the morning. The crew had to wait for the temperature to reach to 40°F, which is the temperature at which the plant will start to produce hot mix asphalt.
The asphalt plant was located in Frankfort, KY, about 20 minutes away from the jobsite. The material was delivered in APM company-owned trucks for better delivery, timing, and control.
APM used a Mauldin 1750-C paver with the Silver-16™ screed to pull a 10 to 12 foot wide pass. A DD-24 Ingersoll Rand was the contractor's roller of choice to work with the paver.
Kramer says that selecting the appropriate equipment to do the work is another part of the business some contractors overlook.
"A critical part of our second element, doing quality work, is that we must carefully evaluate the machines we purchase," Kramer says. "Today's modern asphalt paving equipment, in addition to having become quite expensive, has become appreciably more technologically advanced and multifaceted."
He says this statement applies to both pavers and rollers.
"At best, you will only get what you pay for. But if you do decide to make the investment in advanced, multi-faceted equipment you will significantly increase your onsite paving productivity and the ability to do this using less manpower. That can result in a considerable cost savings."
He says the equipment the company owns, including the new Silver-16™ screed on the Mauldin 1750-C paver, are prime examples.
"One of the things that I especially appreciate is the increased productivity we can achieve with it," he says. "The paver is big and heavy enough to push the fully loaded trucks and yet light and maneuverable enough to work productively in confined areas."
Shaw says that a paver's screed is the key to being a success in the hot mix asphalt paving industry.
"It's been said by some that, if you have a good screed and a pair of mules, you can put down a good asphalt mat," Shaw says. "There is, of course, a little more to it than that. But that saying is not too very far from the truth."
Finding the right customers
All that – the equipment, the technology, the computers – put APM in a position to succeed. But they still had to find customers, do quality work, and get paid for it.
Nowadays much of that starts with the company website (www.apm-lex.com), which is filled with the standard information, company history, contact information and pictures of recent jobs. The site also contains some innovative ideas, including:
- A sealcoating bid comparison page
- How to write specifications for competitive bids, and
- A page customers can use to grade their own parking lot to determine the type of work they might need. And it's all geared toward getting the customers.
"We have learned through experience, that we can't just take every job that comes down the pike," Kramer says. "We must evaluate both the customer and the work. Can the customer afford us and is he willing to pay on time for what we do?
"We must also evaluate the job based on our capability, experience and equipment to perform the work. Can our crew handle the job with the equipment that we have provided them?
"The first red flag that goes up is usually the one where the customer says, ‘Be sure to give me a good price' on our initial site visit," Kramer says. "If his criteria in hiring us are based solely on price, we'll probably take a second look before accepting the work.
"We do best when working for a particular type of customer. They all may have a great job but, if they are not a great customer, we're not interested. We have learned through trial and error that we've got to qualify our customer base."
Kramer says the company's receivables report is short, partly because APM qualifies customers "on the front end, we generally have very little problem getting our money on the back end."
But there's more to it than that.
"We strive to be proactive at the completion of a job to make sure the customer is happy," he says. "We offer to have a personal walk-through with the customer to take care of any punch list items before we leave the job.
"Also, our terms are generally net 10 days which helps us identify problems early on."