Growing up, Tom Eosso and his brothers watched their dad own and operate an excavating business. They knew early on that finding a career in construction was a path they were going to follow based on his lead.
By the age of 12, their father Tony Eosso, taught Tom and Gary how to operate heavy equipment. Practicing every day after school was a skill that would serve them well. Tom entered the military after high school and became a heavy equipment operator. Eosso served for 8 years, learning a lot about construction - but even more about leadership - he knew he was ready to start his own business.
“My brother Gary and I didn’t have any money but we knew the industry and we knew people and we took $2,500 that Gary had saved to buy our first truck and on Thanksgiving in 1992 we decided to officially start Eosso Brothers Paving,” Eosso said.
Through Tom’s connections, the company landed a large $50,000 project for a condo development and the manager paid them up front the money they needed to really get started.
“The manager named Daisy believed in us and she trusted we would do a good job,” Eosso said. “She gave us a copy of the Community Association Institute handbook and told us to make a brochure with this information and send it out to the local communities with our contact information on it. We did as she said and we blew up from there.”
The Eosso Brothers team built a solid business foundation with their community association and condo work right out of the gate due to their attention to detail, clear communication and foundation for building lasting relationships. Today, the company maintains a strong business paving these housing associations in their community 32 years later, including properties still run by Daisy.
Quality First, Quality Always
Those first jobs completed by Eosso Brothers started them off on the right foot, but their commitment to their customers is what has continued their success.
“We always try to make our customers look good,” Eosso said. “That’s something Daisy asked us to do and it’s something we believe. We maintain that trust and integrity with our customers by doing that and we still have a lot of those same clients 30 years later.”
Once a job is completed by the company, they don’t consider their work done. They immediately create a pavement management plan for their customers which includes a program for maintenance. They seal it two years after paving and then again three to four years later. The plan is revisited with the property owners as needed to help them get the most out of their investment, extend the life of the pavement and solidify their relationships.
A few years after the company was founded, Tom and Gary’s youngest brother Anthony joined the company along with their sister Kim and from 1992 to 2004, the company achieved strong and steady growth. They adopted technology for their teams to help them complete their jobs more efficiently and added additional services like milling to better serve their customers.
In 2007, Eosso noticed his growth was stalled. They were steadily making over $4 million a year, but could not break the $5 million mark. He visited companies he was close with and talked to other various business owners about their operations. It was at that time he decided he needed to create dedicated paving and milling crews instead of having one crew do both.
“We were milling one day and paving the next and we found out that wasn’t the most efficient way to get things done,” Eosso said. “As soon as we dedicated crews to each type of work, we made $9 million the very next year.”
Of course adding on an additional crew doesn’t just happen overnight and Eosso knew he wanted to keep quality top priority when doing so.
“Gary went to work, mastering-minding the growth pattern with manpower and equipment needs,” Eosso said. “Gary today continues to drive the business with a production and quality mindset.
“When you add another crew on, it's not like you just call up 10 new people and start,” Eosso adds. ”We do an analysis on how much equipment we need and how much it's going to cost and then we need to make sure we have the people who will do the quality of work we want.
“When you have one crew that creates a lot of quality and you start a whole brand new crew, you can go downhill fast if you don't have good quality standards and standard operating procedures,” Eosso continues. “But we have strong leadership and we let them lead, help them grow, give them everything they need, and let them win. So that's what helps make it easy.”
Today, Eosso has 65 employees and 10 crews: two paving crews, two milling crews, three sealcoat crews and one cracksealing crew. The additional paving, milling and sealcoating crews were just added this year and Eosso had to reinvest in his sales team, led by his brother Anthony, to help them keep up.
“It was really difficult at first to get that much work but we knew we needed these additional crews to keep up with quality and growth,” he said. “Approximately five years ago, we invested in HubSpot CRM to help our sales team. At that time, it was also imperative with our rapid growth to hire a CFO to create strong financial reporting to understand our production and profitability.”
Eosso understands putting the right people in the right positions is imperative for growth and success.
Investing in Equipment & Training to Do the Work
Eosso also knows the importance of investing in the latest equipment and technologies to keep his crews competitive.
“After 30 years we’re still finding ways to innovate and it’s because it's so competitive out there right now that we have to find ways to do things faster because we’re not sacrificing quality,” Eosso said. “If you don't think outside the box and stay cutting edge and follow technology, you will get run over.”
The paving equipment at Eosso is equipped with lasers to help achieve smoothness while their mills and rollers also feature the latest technology that his crews are given additional training on to be successful.
“We took 10 of our crew members and sent them to Wirtgen’s training school in Nashville and they came back with so much knowledge,” Eosso said. “We know that it cost us a lot of money to send them there, but we got our value back. Their training changed our whole milling operation. These guys are milling faster. They're using all the modules on these machines and it was some of the best money we spent.”
Team members have iPads to create estimates and bids on the go and their software has also helped them gain a competitive edge.
“Our software Pavement Soft has all the capabilities we need in one platform,” Eosso said. “We can do job costing, scheduling, make proposals, all with different dashboards, in one place. We used to have to enter these things in multiple areas causing double work but now with a single entry, you get all your information, and it's more accurate. So that's been a big plus.”
The Eosso trucks are also equipped with GPS technology and safety features to help keep crew members secure when doing their jobs.
“I understand the importance of keeping up to date with everything we need to be successful,” Eosso adds. “Technology is an investment, but it's one we can’t afford to skip out on if we want to be competitive.”
Inspiring the Next Generation
For 18 years, Eosso has been giving back by sharing his knowledge with contractors through educational seminars at national events. He has shared wisdom with them on utilizing technology, infrared, business growth and more.
In 2020, Eosso took his passion for education to the next level and got heavily involved with his local vocational school. At first, Eosso would lend equipment to the school and speak at a few events but he knew the way to get these kids passionate about the industry was to spend time with them and show them the work.
“Now, I go to the school once a month and I actually teach a class and I get to know the students and I sort of guide them to which way they want to go,” Eosso said. “We invite them to intern with us to drive our golf carts so they can see what they do before they even might pick up a shovel.”
Today, Eosso Brothers employs 10 students directly from the vocational school with more in the pipeline.
“My competitors who can’t find workers keep asking me what we’re doing to fill our positions and I tell them about the school,” he adds. “I welcome them to come and help because it’s important for the industry that everyone gets involved, but in order to do this, they have to stay involved, they have to invest and they have to spend time with these kids. It's really making a difference in our company and I think it can make a difference for a lot of others too.”
With a firm work ethic instilled in Eosso from a young age, every worker who comes in the door at Eosso Brothers - whether they are one of his 15 family members or not - starts by working the shovel to earn their place and earn their respect within the company.
“Everybody keeps saying that young kids are lazy, they don't want to work, but that’s not always what we’re seeing,” Eosso said. “There are a lot of kids that might be a little uncertain. They don't want to go to college but they feel they have to because they feel that they're going to be a loser if they don't go to college. In this world though, blue collar is making far more than white collar and I'm an advocate for that. We want to keep showing kids a path to these careers and fulfilling lives.”
As for the future of Eosso Brothers paving, who are now a NJ division of the national company, Pave America, they plan to scale and grow with the help and dedication of their people and are committed to maintaining the highest level of service in the paving industry. Congratulations to Pavement Maintenance and Reconstruction Magazine’s 2024 Contractor of the Year: Eosso Brothers Paving.