Smaller companies can often offer their customers a sort of special attention that is not always present in the work of larger companies. Kurt Pray, president of KP Asphalt located in Biddeford, ME, prides himself on giving his clients such attention.
“Every job we do is an owner on sight no matter what we do for the customer — installing pavers, walkways or driveways,” Pray says. “Nothing gets over looked, unlike bigger companies where it depends on what the foreman is like because they might not lose sleep over a mistake where an owner will have to pay if something goes wrong.”
An experienced contractor, Pray began his career sealcoating driveways when he was 14 years old. After working with several paving companies, Pray decided to use his years of experience and open his own company. For the past 10 years, KP Asphalt has maintained a strong presence in the local area.
With five employees, KP Asphalt generates its revenue from 65% paving/asphalt and 35% excavation, pavers and retaining walls. Nearly 80% of KP Asphalt’s work comes from residential customers while the final 20% come from commercial clients. KP Asphalt has a service area of York and Cumberland counties.
Maintaining a high standard of quality is essential at KP Asphalt. To do so, Pray regularly updates his equipment. “Every year we purchase more equipment to keep up with the newer models,” Pray says.
“By upgrading your equipment you are getting better machinery. The higher the quality of equipment, the higher the standard of paving creating a better quality product.” For example, Pray purchased larger trucks enabling his crews to complete more work at a faster pace and finishing in less time.
With the current state of the economy and the continued pricing competition, Pray has seen several changes to the industry since beginning his business several years ago. Similar to other contractors, Pray has looked for other services to bring in additional revenue. Five years ago, Pray added paver installation to his line of work often using it to up-sell paving projects.
Another notable change is the lowered prices with an increase in work. “The amount of work from the start of my business until now has gone up every year,” Pray says. “This year was one of the best business years I’ve had. The pricing is going down, but we are completing more work.”
Advertising has also changed since Pray first opened KP Asphalt. Currently, Pray uses caution ribbon with the company’s phone number, lawn signs and the phone book to advertise his company. He also places an advertisement in a local paper which has generated several leads. In the future, Pray hopes to expand his presence online pushing the company to the top of search engines.
With five dump trucks, Pray considers KP Paving to be a mid-sized company in the area, and he hopes to maintain that size avoiding the challenges that can accompany a large business.
While most clients are unfamiliar with the steps that need to be taken to properly complete their work. Pray takes this opportunity to educate a potential client even if they choose the low bid.
“When I do an estimate, I always let them know what should be done,” Pray says. “I’m kind of a teacher, for instance, telling them what has to be done and how it needs to be done. That way if they go with someone cheaper they know the proper way the work should be completed. That is where I get a lot of my work because I am so thorough with my estimates.”