How to Select the Right Foreman

A few questions to make sure you have the right person managing your projects

In early December, I had the privilege of attending the Asphalt Pavement Association of Indiana’s (APAI) Winter Conference in Indianapolis – thanks for hosting me Bill Knopf!

During the APAI meeting, Charles Vander Kooi of Vander Kooi & Associates, presented a seminar on successful people management for highway contractors. He had a very smart list of the seven traits that make a good foreman. If your project foreman isn’t strong in these areas, it might be time to reconsider who’s running the job.

  1. Customer satisfaction. Is your project foreman a problem solver? Do customers enjoy interacting with him?
  2. Cost awareness. Does your project foreman respect company resources? Is he sensitive to cost mistakes?
  3. Equipment. Does he treat equipment respectfully? Does he make sure daily checks and maintenance are performed on schedule? Does he operate the machine like it’s his own?
  4. Attitude. Does he take personal responsibility for mistakes right away or does he play the blame game?
  5. Paperwork. Does your project foreman turn his paperwork in on time? Is it accurate? Does he take this important aspect of his job seriously?
  6. Safety. Have your employees completed safety classes and meetings? Has OSHA visited? What is the injury rate under this project foreman?
  7. Quality. Customers determine quality, so when the job is done and the budget is met, is rework minimal? The accomplishment of meeting deadlines and budgets is diminished if there’s a lot of backtracking to correct mistakes that can be done right the first time.

Vander Kooi had many great insights into running a successful highway construction business. For more, visit Also, consider attending your local or state asphalt association conference and yearly meetings. They’re a great place to attend educational seminars, learn new trends, receive updates on regional news, and network with both customers and peers.

As we start off the new year riding the high of having a newly passed highway bill, I want to point out that 2016 is Asphalt Contractor’s 30th anniversary year. We’ll be featuring special reports throughout the year on how the asphalt road building industry has changed over the last three decades. And we’re offering a few new departments as well.

Our Technology Update can be found right after New Products (on page 22) and will highlight new apps and technology that will help you get your day-to-day job done faster & easier. We also have a new partnership with the folks at AEMA/ARRA/ISSA, who will be providing updates and news from their unique preservation point of view. See page 46 for that inaugural column.

Welcome to a new year!