Contractors often seek out high-profile jobs, partly for their own satisfaction, partly for their resume, and partly because high-profile projects can be lucrative. But these types of job should often carry a warning with them: Caution: Complex work about to begin.
The job Advanced Pavement Technologies (APT) took on last year for Six Flags Great Adventure is a perfect example. Not only was the high-profile project large, encompassing more than 2.2 million square feet of parking lot, but it involved significant labor-intensive work that had to be done before the sealcoating and striping could occur—and it all had to be done in a tight time frame so the park could open on schedule.
As APT owner Ted Wilson knows, the only way to get this type of job completed under such tight deadlines is to plan and organize it so crews can be as productive as possible. And those are three attributes APT prides themselves on.
Cold call lands job
"After an overwhelming winter I decided to get an early start on the upcoming season," Wilson says. "I came up with a top ten list of potential customers and started making cold calls."
One of the return calls was from Six Flags, giving APT a chance to bid on a job that required repairing, sealcoating, re-designing the layout, and striping of its huge parking lot in Jackson, NJ.
"They had built a new roller coaster, the Kingda Ka (standing 456 feet tall, it goes from 0-128 mph in 3.5 seconds) and had used part of the old lot for the footprint of the coaster," Wilson says. "A number of parking spaces were lost, so the lot needed to be redesigned to regain those spaces before the season began."
But to redesign the layout, Six Flags had to remove all the parking stops, signage, concrete curbs, and concrete tramways, pave over some areas, fill cracks, mill parking stops, and then sealcoat it so a new layout could be marked and striped for 7,000 parking stalls.
"When we were bidding on the job, we were going up against some of the larger paving companies, and we know they do not normally do this kind of work themselves. They subcontract it out to sealcoating contractors," Wilson says. "We believed we had a good chance because this was our expertise. It was this expertise and our experience with sealcoating that got us the 2.2 million square-foot job."
Six Flags didn't pull the trigger on the job until April 20, which gave APT only a two-week window before the park opened in May. To complicate matters, Six Flags was shooting a television commercial to kick-off their season, and the park was open on a limited pre-season schedule.
"It was a challenge for us to coordinate with Six Flags' schedule and still be productive in such a short amount of time," says Andrew Muller, APT owner.
A sense of professionalism
Started in 1986, APT has grown into the successful, productive company they are today because of their employees, including four office administrators, one full-time sales rep, and four crews (21 field employees) at peek season. They generate 40% of sales from sealcoating, 20% from crack sealing, 20% from paving and asphalt repairs, 10% from sweeping, and the rest from snow removal and concrete repair.
Wilson said that with a job this big and with many elements, APT had to be organized to be as productive as possible. So APT set up a staging area in one corner of the lot.
"We wanted to make an impact from Day One, so we planned out the staging area and just kept everything moving," Wilson says. "It also made the job production go much more smoothly, which our crews enjoyed, leading us to completion upon deadline."
Once the staging area was set up, APT's crews coordinated the various types of work that needed to be done simultaneously to meet the schedule. APT had 12 workers on the site every day, so production became a matter of scheduling and coordination.