Is 2009 another "Focus on Pavement Maintenance Year"

Last year I heard constant stories from contractors who ended up doing often extensive pavement maintenance work for property managers who couldn't afford the asphalt overlay they had planned. Maybe this year is looking like that too -- or at least it is starting out that way in Lynchburg, VA, where Advisory Board member Steve Young, Young Sealcoating Inc., bases his business. Here's what Steve told me recently: "On the commercial end of things, we are getting a lot of bid opportunities for jobs that should be paved. Because asphalt has climbed in cost so rapidly while the economy has declined so rapidly, many property managers are taking a more serious look at asphalt maintenance. Some have gone to the extent of just having lots sealed instead of having them paved - even though they really should be re paved. "This has lead to two factors: One, we are bidding work that is not as clean, and we are able to get more per square foot as the property owner approaches the contract with relief that it is only going to cost maybe $20,000 to seal instead of the projected $90,000 to pave. The caution however is to make sure that you communicate very clearly with written 'provisions' in the contract so that the P.M. understands that sealing it is not a substitute for paving it. "I am finding that property managers are more eager and willing to respond to the age-old marketing question: "Can we meet to discuss options for reducing your paving costs?" More paving companies will likely need to shift toward providing services for the current market such as tapping into subs that sealcoat and crack repair or learning to sealcoat themselves. There is still plenty of work in this industry, we just need to be flexible enough to see the demand and modify our services to meet the current demand. In the long run, companies will have learned to expand and improve on their overall for thought." Food for thought for sure, but it sure would be great if paving contractors could see some of the work postponed last year getting let to go this year. Let us know what's happening in your market as the season starts up.