'I Love the Smell of Construction in the Morning'

Every morning at a construction site, you can gather in all that is about to happen. Here's to smelling success and to never forget we work for the best industry.

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Do you remember the movie, Apocalypse Now?  It starred Martin Sheen, playing a military assassin, who was sent to find and kill a demented ex-US Army Officer, played by Marlon Brando. 

There was a humorous point in this dark movie, the only one, when a helicopter commander, played by Robert Duvall, was walking among the carnage his helicopters had just unleashed, and matter of factly states, “I love the smell of Napalm in the morning.”  It was an instant favorite quote, being repeated by just about every guy who saw the movie.

Well, I’ve got to be honest with you…I love the smell of construction in the morning.  Time and time again, I’m amazed how every morning, at a construction site, you can gather in all that is about to happen.  Think about it…your senses pick up on the smell of material you just put down the previous day, while you inspect your equipment.  That diesel can, immediately takes you to the need to keep that paver bed freed from remaining scraps of asphalt, that we failed to clean off the night before. 

Sure, construction is not a flower garden of smells, but it does grow to be part of your confirmation that you chose your career wisely.  I mean, think about all that we do working in this great industry.   


  • We make it possible for the ADA drivers to safely park their van so that they can, without any “friction” from others, get out of their vehicle and transport into their favorite store.
  • We help local school districts, already strapped for money to more wisely spend the money they do have, to consider a winning strategy of crack filling, followed by seal-coating, then topped  off by the best striping job in the industry.  All this, for less than what a competitor told them was their only option and would cost ten times more than what our estimator would have guided them to see, calming their hearts as we extended their parking for another three to five years.   
  • Finally, we do the paving that strengthens the overly distressed parking lot for a non-profit hospital that helps the lower income, even homeless, to have a facility that looks as nice as anything that can be found in any medical complex.

In this great and niche industry, the pavement maintenance industry, we just don’t put materials into place, we influence the attitudes of people about their property or make it safer for citizens to shop at their favorite stores or for apartment dwellers who now have more pride because their property is now freshly “black” with bright yellow stripes accenting the safe parking spots.

Let’s never forget, that we work for the best industry in the world, services that bless so many different sort of customers, in so many different ways.  Never forget to be thankful when you smell that hot asphalt dumping into the paver bed or even that odd smell of sealcoat material as your crew squeegees it perfectly.

We’re fortunate to be working in an industry also that has navigated this incredible Virus Pandemic so carefully over the past year.  What a lesson in patience, protection and production under the toughest of circumstances.  We are all fortunate to be working in the greatest industry in the world.  Smells…and all!

Here’s to smelling success!

Brad Humphrey is the Vice President of Human Resources & Employee Development for Pavecon, a full-service pavement maintenance contractor based in Dallas, Texas with offices now spreading to nine locations.  Brad can be heard on The Contractor’s Best Friend Podcasts, sponsored by AC Business Media and Caterpillar throughout the year.  For literature written by Brad, simple check out his books on Amazon.com.