"We know it's a help to our customers to get the work done, whether it's a short project or a long-term project and that's some of the service we offer," Fresa says. "So we'll take that work and that problem off their hands."
Fresa started in the business by working in the field, but today most all of his time is spent in the office.
"I make it a part of my job and a part of the service we provide our customers to go out in the field and visit the manager or field supervisor, ask them if everything's going okay, if everything is on schedule, are our crews performing well, can we do anything else to help him out," Fresa says. "I make frequent visits to the projects so the customers realize it's not just a marking crew out there painting lines. It's us, and we're all a part of this project."
So Clark has built its business on service, job quality, price, and the hope that if a bidding decision comes down to a reasonable price difference, that its job quality and customer service will give Clark the edge.
"On a job if someone else is bidding 20% lower, that's hard to overcome regardless of our service and quality," Fresa says. "To have a general contractor say 'we like working with you so we're going to give you the contract even though you're 20% higher,' that's unlikely. Now if we're 2% or 3% higher, we're hoping our quality and service will do it. When we leave a job we make sure it's done properly and that the finished project is a good representation of us," Fresa says.
The focus on safety
Clark Pavement Marking is a member of the American Traffic Safety Services Association and Carolina's branch of the Associated General Contractors but does most of its employee certification through North Carolina Department of Transportation, which has its own certification courses. Clark says 60% of his employees are certified through NCDOT.
"North Carolina DOT really raises the bar in promoting safety and traffic control requirements and enforcing them pretty well," Clark says. "I don't know of any changes they've made that aren't valuable. They're demanding and hard to satisfy but that's all right with me because it results in a safer working environment.
"I'm real proud of what we've got going on," Clark says. "We could have someone hurt out there tomorrow but we work hard so that doesn't happen."
To encourage his workers to be safe Clark Pavement Marking holds mandatory Monday morning meetings that start at 6:00 and last usually less than an hour.
"We cover anything that needs to be covered from the week before or the week ahead. The biggest thing about the meetings is safety," Clark says. "We encourage them to please consider safety at home, to and from work, and at work. It's not just 'please don't wreck trucks,' or 'please don't hurt our employees.' We want them to be safe on their own time as well."
He says that there are some employees who don't want to follow safety procedures or wear appropriate protection, but most employees comply with no argument.
"Some of these guys see me rolling around here in the shop in a wheelchair and I think that reminds them that I got hurt and they need to pay attention to their own safety," Clark says. "But we make great efforts to get guys to understand the need for safety, we really work hard to educate them and in most cases the education works fine."
To make it easier for workers to follow safety guidelines, Clark provides personal protective equipment that is comfortable and still does the job.
"We realize they're trying to do a job, so we don't want to load them up with gear they don't need. But we make sure they have what they do need to work safe in the work zone," he says.
Depending on the work people are doing, Clark requires specific protective gear. Among the requirements are seatbelts, gloves, eye and hearing protection, leather-topped shoes, long pants, shirts with sleeves, safety vests, and hard hats.
"Not all workers have to wear all safety gear on all jobs. That doesn't make sense," he says. "But there are skills where you have to wear certain gear to protect yourself and in those circumstances we're going to insist that you wear it."