From striping to paving, Mike Dickens, vice president, has seen KFM Striping/Asphalt Technologies grow. The company began as KFM Striping & Curb Co. in the 1980s when his father, Fred Dickens, decided to open his own business. At that time, a majority of their work was generated from subbed-out projects from area paving contractors.
After a major paving contractor closed its office in Phoenix, the Dickens’ hired a few of the company’s top-performing employees, purchased new equipment, and opened Asphalt Technologies, a paving division of KFM. That division has been in operation for 10 years.
There have been several benefits to the company since opening the paving division. “We wanted to control our own fate,” Mike says. “The striper is the last guy on the job and is always forgotten until the last minute. It went from getting five to 10 phone calls for every project from the subcontractors changing scope and/or schedule, to one call because we’re in control of it now. We are controlling all aspects of the project from start to finish and it has really helped the front end of our office stay stream lined and efficient.”
Currently, KFM offers services including paving, patching, cracksealing, slurry seal, sealcoating, striping, signage, parking curbs, and extruded curbing with the majority of revenue coming from commercial projects. Nearly 80% of the company’s revenue comes from pavement maintenance with the other 20% coming from striping. KFM’s 25 employees use a variety of equipment including Leeboy and Volvo pavers, Caterpillar and Ingersoll-Rand rollers, Cimline cracksealing machines, Seal-Rite sealcoat machines, and Graco striping machines.
With diversification becoming more important, KFM has found success through cross-training its crews while maintaining specialized foremen for each division of the business. There are two specialized foremen in the striping division and three specialized foremen in the asphalt division. “All of the employees have their hands in every aspect of the operations,” Dickens says. “Guys can be pouring parking bumpers one day and sealcoating or striping the next.”
Due to the tough economy, Mike has focused on limiting overtime as much as possible. He has also noticed an improvement in efficiency. “Contracts are signed, scanned, and emailed back to us,” Mike says. “We are also using Google Earth to provide detailed scope maps and easy directions for the crews.” Mike purchased Google Earth Pro and has seen the bidding process streamlined. Along with getting out bids quicker, it also allows him to place more bids with less staff and save money on gas and equipment by limiting the number of jobsite visits.
While being environmentally conscientious continues to impact businesses today, contractors continue to look for ways to help the environment. As a result, Mike keeps his sales crew in high efficiency hybrid vehicles and has his fleet run on LPG/Gas duel fuel eco-friendly trucks.
One event that Mike has completed work for is the Waste Management Phoenix Open, a PGA tournament. “It has 10 acres of ground-up asphalt that yearly needs to be rejuvenated and ready for parking for the 100,000 people a day who attend,” Mike says. “We were able to grade out 10 acres in three days. We waited until it rained saving two million gallons of water.” Although Mike couldn’t control the weather, with a little bit of careful planning around typical rainy conditions he was able to make one project a little more environmentally friendly.
As for the future, Mike hopes to grow the company. “The market is fairly large with several big players here,” he says. “It’s a matter of capturing more of the market share through social media, marketing and boots on the ground. We’re known for our high quality workmanship and customer service. We want to continue to be a leader in our market and continue to expand our customer base.”