Hot Mix January 2009

Four contractors have been named to the Pavement Advisory Board effective this month. They are:
Tom Kuhns, Capitol Sweeping Services. Celebrating its 22nd anniversary this year, Capitol Sweeping Services is a minority-owned business, with Lesa Kuhns, president, running the day-to-day operations and husband Tom as vice president. Capitol Sweeping Services runs a Shopping Center Maintenance Division and a Road Maintenance Division and employs 22 employees full time, year round.

Headquartered in South Windsor, CT, Capitol Sweeping covers the entire state, plus Rhode Island and western Massachusetts. Capitol Sweeping generates 65% of its revenue from litter sweeping (as many as 100 parking lots nightly), 20% from road sweeping (including catch basin cleaning), and the balance from line striping, pavement repair, snow plowing, and power washing.

Started as a part-time striping company, they eventually bought their own sweeper to clean the pavement before striping. They soon had a few small litter sweeping accounts and became a sweeping company within two years, and by year five they had six employees and had become a full-fledged contract sweeper with 15 contracts. "It's a blur where it's gone in the last 20 years," Kuhns says. Since then Capitol Sweeping has made every effort to diversify within the pavement maintenance market.

"We don't sub out anything," Kuhns says. "Everything we do is done in-house, from hanging signs, to replacing bollards, to repairing parking lot pavement." One of the first diversification efforts was the addition of catch-basin cleaning, and in 2008 Capitol Sweeping added infrared repair - which he says outperformed all expectations the company had for that service in 2008.

Dave Worthington, Worthington Paving. A second-generation owner of the 46-year-old paving company in Visalia, CA, Worthington is doing what worked for his father and is passing that on to his son, Chandler, who plans on taking over the family business.

"My 10 fingers do the work," Worthington says. "I'm out there with the guys every day. That way when I walk away I know it's done right. And I enjoy the work. If you don't enjoy the work, get out of the business."

Worthington says 60% of their work is paving, 20% is grading, and 20% is sealcoating; 20% of the company's work is subcontracted from larger area companies.

Worthington has served on California's state contractor licensing board and worked on the committee to update the construction licensing test. "I was one of those who convinced them to add a parking lot section to the test. Before it only focused on roads and, as we all know, that's only a part of what paving and grading contractors do."

Worthington's reputation precedes him and is an important part of his success. "I'm not a low-price contractor. In fact I'd say we're more of a mid-to-high-priced contractor but because of our reputation that's never been an issue," he says. "We are able to stand behind our work because there's only one way to do it, the right way; so let's do it right. That's what makes us successful."

Chris Tammany, Petra Paving Inc. Starting in the industry right out of high school with his own sealcoating and striping business, Tammany bought Petra Paving, Hampstead, NH, from its original owner in 1992 - when he was 23. "I soon recognized I had mortgaged myself pretty thin, trying to run a paving, sealcoating, and striping business that young; so I decided pretty quickly to sell the sealcoating and striping and focus on the paving," Tammany says.

For years Petra Paving generated 100% of sales from paving and related dirt work, generating 60% of sales from commercial work and 40% from residential work. Last year Petra moved back into the maintenance field, adding sealcoating, cracksealing, and striping. So in 2008, 85% of sales were paving related and 15% were maintenance driven. And in 2008 the markets shifted as well, with 80% of sales coming from residential work and 20% coming from commercial.

"We've worked hard to keep a mix of driveways and big stuff so we can adapt to whatever is going on in the market," Tammany says. "We make it on the work that the big guys don't want, and we can be profitable doing it. We've diversified to the point where we can pretty much handle whatever we bid and get."

Steve Young, Young Sealcoating. Started in 1990 with Young working from a Honda hatchback, sweeping driveways by hand, and applying sealer by the bucket, Young Sealcoating today generates 80% of sales from cracksealing and sealcoating and 20% of sales from asphalt cut-and-patch repairs. The Lynchburg, VA, company subcontracts out striping, paving, and large-scale repair work. Young generates 60% of sales from commercial work and 40% of sales from residential work, though the contractor does more driveways than parking lots. Most driveways range from 3,500 to 4,000 square feet, and Young Sealcoating completes two or three a day, all by hand because he says the finish looks better.

A fervent supporter (and now speaker) at National Pavement Expo, Young says the first time he attended was because he was new to the business. "I've been back every other year since," he says, adding the most important thing he learned was the level of professionalism in the industry. "I'm always asking 'What have you done that makes you successful?' and while some people don't want to talk about it or don't have a specific answer, many people do because they are proud of what they've accomplished and they're willing to share."

Also joining the Advisory Board will be Carl Barton, Aardvark Sweeping Services, Memphis, TN, who will succeed Dale McCaskill, Southco Sweeping and Maintenance, as president of the North American Power Sweeping Association at National Pavement Expo in February. Board members function as consultants, reviewing articles, suggesting article ideas and seminar topics for NPE and NPE West, and helping the magazine and trade shows meet industry needs.

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