Third-generation paving contractor strives for quality

B.R. Amon has had a presence in southeastern Wisconsin since 1924. The grandfather of present president Tom Amon started the company hauling milk and gravel for local farmers. In the 1920s, he bought his first crusher, and in the 1950s, B.R. Amon changed its name when two sons joined the company and started the paving business. Today, B.R. Amon & Sons, Inc. is in its third generation of management, with Tom, his cousin Mike, and brother David running the business.

B.R. Amon employs 200 people. The company is a major aggregate supplier, has three asphalt plants, offers Street Print stamped and colored asphalt, and is a full-service paving contractor, paving anything from the smallest driveways to bike trails to interstate highways. Tom Amon explains that having a reach into different areas and markets of the paving business allows the company to tip over into other sectors if one sector is feeling an economic crunch.

"It's important to be in all areas of the paving business, because you can change depending on the economy," he says. "There aren't a lot of large paving contractors in Wisconsin who stay in the driveway business."

It is logical that B.R. Amon has continued to offer a broad range of paving services, because their location in a growing area of Wisconsin demands a wide variety of paving jobs.

"People who work in Chicago or Milwaukee are moving to this area, and with them comes road expansions and new housing developments," Amon says.

When it comes to attracting those paving jobs, the company hasn't changed its marketing plan much since the years when Amon's grandfather was running the business.

"In those days it was a lot of personal contacts and people knowing people. I don't think there has been that big of a change," Amon says. "Your best customer is a repeat customer, and what will always boost sales is a satisfied customer spreading the word."

Quality seems to be a major concern for Amon. He's heavily involved with the Wisconsin Asphalt Pavement Association, which is developing consumer awareness and protection information. This information will educate consumers on what to ask for when getting an asphalt driveway. The association is also working with local communities and engineering consultants to offer "black bag" education seminars to teach people in the industry about asphalt materials and paving.

"The consumer and public demand good service and good value of the product, and there seems to be a higher level of expectation than there was several years ago," he says. "We need to have people good enough to foresee any problems and produce a product that satisfies the customer."

Amon sees several challenges the asphalt industry will face in the coming years, all of them related to bringing the best value to the consumer. The depletion of quality aggregate sources will force companies to travel farther for quality aggregates, with increased trucking costs being passed on to the customer. In addition, Amon says the future of the asphalt industry looks good with a demand for paving services always being there, but that the industry needs to bring in young people who are excited about asphalt in order to continue offering the utmost in quality to the customer.

The biggest challenge in Amon's eyes is ensuring that the paving industry satisfies the increasing demands of the customer, whether it is driveways or interstates. Amon believes this high level of quality can be achieved through the cooperation of the asphalt industry, associations, and DOTs. He says meetings, gatherings, and publications are a good way to spread the word about what quality asphalt production and service is, and how to provide it.