“There’s a lot of interesting challenges asphalt producers have to meet today,” he says. “The extreme volatility of crude oil prices affect energy costs so the energy efficiency of the new facility will help with that. And the pressure of rising costs on flat state budgets is reaching critical mass with our entire infrastructure crumbling around us and no new funding in sight. Hopefully we’ll see more funding soon and our plant, with its increased production capacity, will allow us to be ready when things take off.”
VanDerslice notes that another challenge for asphalt producers in this market is attracting new customers. “Before 2008, 40 percent of the customer base in this market was public/60 percent was commercial and residential,” he notes. “That has completely flipped since the recession. With the new plant, we can now extend our footprint in this market without being fearful that we will not be able to consistently exceed the customers’ expectations; regardless of size and scope. We can now go further – instead of 20 miles, we may go 30 miles – to reach those new clients.
“It takes a village to get that mix from the plant to the paver,” says VanDerslice. “There’s a lot of coordination to get a ton of mix to a paver. From the guy answering the phone for the order to the truck driver that dumps it into the paver, everyone plays an important role. The asphalt industry is operating on such slim margins these days that one small miscommunication can erase any profit that was anticipated.
“We might have a shiny new plant, but our people are the true resource,” he concludes. “We have a tremendous staff – the best in the industry.”