Putting Crews on the Road
The next improvement Parker made was to organize its jobs differently, which resulted in a complete rethinking of his approach to the striping business. “That first year we were doing jobs as they came up,” he says. “We’d go to Maine for three jobs then somewhere else for a job or two and then another job would be back in Maine – but that just won’t work for our business,” Parker says. “So we tried to figure out what would be the most sustainable way of running the business.”
Parker worked with customers to identify as far in advance as possible the jobs in each state, figuring once he had that information the Parker Team could plan out the work and make the whole process more efficient. “We realized we could put X amount of paint in the truck and we’ll schedule all the work in one area and then complete all the work in that area,” he says.
It was a great idea, but to make it work Parker Line Striping had to put its crews on the road – for extended periods. Today Parker Line Striping runs eight to 10 striping crews, moving people in and out of crews depending on the number and size of jobs on the schedule.
“We try to get our crews out there as long as they can; crews often go out for two to three weeks at a time,” he says. “It’s traveling work: Pack a bag and you’ll be on the road. We do have some local crews that work within New York State and maybe up to three hours away so they will be out on the road for maybe three nights. But our travel crews focus on retail chains and anything outside of New York.”
Workers on the road receive a per diem, are provided with hotel, and receive two types of pay because they are paid the entire time they’re on the road. Parker says workers receive an hourly rate on the jobsite and mileage rate when riding in the truck (CDL drivers receive a higher wage). “We pay our people well and it pays for itself setting it up the way we do. We have to do volume to make it work because we could never make it doing three or four stores.”
Outfitting Trucks for High-production
But to keep the crews out on the road for extended periods Parker had to rethink his approach to the trucks they’d be driving. Many contractors use pickup trucks and trailers to haul 5-gallon buckets of paint and striping equipment, tools and stencils. But Parker decided he wanted his crews to be able to carry everything they might need for any job they might encounter for as long as they were on the road. So he opted for 33,000-pound GVW, 24-foot box trucks with lift gates.
To make the large trucks and on-the-road system work each truck is set up with everything a crew needs to do all types of striping work the company does. And all trucks are outfitted identically. “If one guy jumped on another truck it would be exactly the same as every other truck we run with everything in the same place,” Parker says.
Today Parker Line Striping operates eight trucks, and each truck is outfitted with 5 Graco 5900 LineLazers, 3 LineDrivers, tools, stencils, and about 900 gallons of Sherwin-Williams or Franklin paint: seven 55-gallon drums of yellow, five drums of white, 150 gallons of black in 5-gallon pails, 40 gallons of red in 5-gallon pails, and 70 gallons of blue in 5-gallon pails. (Before the trucks go out on the road they will spin the paint on drum tumblers and as long as it is used within three weeks it will not settle in the bottom of drum.) Stencils are stored on the side, under the carriage, and in an overhead rack on a pulley.
Because the company works in more than 20 states and crosses state lines the vehicles are treated like a large trucker and have to comply with all DOT regulations, permits and taxes. The trucks do require a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), which Parker says is the most challenging issue for his company. “We hire two types of employees: laborers and drivers. Drivers must have a Class B with air brakes and HazMat or Class A CDL, which means they can drive just about anything.