One of the benefits of being a teacher is having the luxury of three full months off work in the summer. If you’re like Ryan Crane of Crane Sealcoating, however, you see those off months as an opportunity.
Crane started in the industry in 1998 working for a paving and sealcoating company during the summer while in college. Once he graduated and became an elementary physical education teacher, he decided to use the skills he acquired to make some extra money sealcoating when he wasn’t teaching.
“I started Crane Sealcoating in 2002 offering just trowel patch crack filling and brush application sealcoating,” says Crane. “I still offer those services along with spray application, residential and commercial hot crack filling, and parking lot striping services.”
Crane Sealcoating serves five counties in upstate New York . His focus is about 80% residential and 20% commercial.
Just a man and a machine
Unlike some companies, when you contact Crane Sealcoating, Crane is who you will get. “I do 95% of the work on my own,” says Crane. “I do the estimating, prep work and finish every single job.” Using his brother Eric on some jobs and just one sealcoating unit, Crane is able to complete the work he bids with just one Copeland sealcoating unit.
With bigger companies, you may never get the chance to interact with the people in control, that’s not the case with Crane Sealcoating, it’s a personal affair from the first phone call.
“My wife, Megan Crane, pretty much acts as my ‘secretary’ when the phone rings,” says Crane. “She’ll take estimates, answer questions and set up times for return calls or quotes. People like to speak with someone when they are calling. Leaving a message on a machine can work well, but live conversation is extremely important."
Working alone also enables Crane to be flexible in the jobs he does. From one pothole to a commercial parking lot, Crane boasts that his company can work at the convenience of the customer.
Small fish, big pond
You may be wondering how one man can build a successful and prosperous business, but Crane sees the one-on-one approach to business as his biggest asset.
“I’m completely honest and walk customers through every part of the process from start to finish,” Crane says. “It’s always appreciated and I have heard from my customers that makes a huge difference when deciding which company to choose from.”
Crane also uses his website, Facebook, the newspaper and monthly "penny saver" ads to market his business. “Word of mouth is my best advertisement,” Crane says, “though all of the others as well bring in a good portion of business."
Crane continues to do what has always worked and plans to continue that while growing the business. “I provide a high quality product, at a reasonable price, all handled by me,” says Crane. He is positioning himself to be able to continually succeed with that business model and recently made a huge investment in his company.
For 12 years, Crane was traveling 40 miles one way to pick up materials to complete jobs. His days would start before 6 a.m. and end well after 6 p.m. and another trip to pick up more material for the work scheduled the next day.
“I have two young sons and I would leave before they woke up and get home after they were already in bed,” says Crane. “That literally ached my heart.”
Crane then made the decision to purchase a 6,000 gallon Seal-Rite bulk holding tank so he could save time, fuel and money. The tank is stored in his equipment garage located on his property. Crane purchases between 11,000 to 14,000 gallons of material per month, so adding the storage tank to his business increased his efficiency exponentially.
“I know I am constantly giving 100% into my business to provide a pure product from start to finish,” adds Crane. “In most cases, that speaks for itself.”
Crane hopes to one day expand his business further by adding the help of his sons during summers while they attend high school and college.