From the services you offer to the market you pursue to the manner in which you pursue it there are any number of ways to become a successful paving or pavement maintenance contractor. And each year this issue, more than any other single issue, highlights that there's certainly more than one way to skin a cat. The "top-performing contractors" we profile in these pages aren't necessarily top performers because they are the biggest companies or because they have the most equipment, the most sales, or the biggest bottom line - though make no mistake about it, their bottom lines are all solid. No, these folks are top performers because of the way they attack their market and the thoughtful approaches each has taken to his or her business.

Take North Suburban Asphalt Maintenance, for example, an Illinois sealcoating and pavement maintenance contractor that invests in a broad variety of equipment so it can bring the best mix of equipment to its jobs, enabling a small crew to be incredibly productive and efficient.

Or Millennium Maintenance & Power Sweeping, which not only determined it needed to diversify in its Massachusetts market but also recognized a niche, the current "green" environmental market, as something that would enhance its business and is pursuing green certification through the Green Business League. How appropriate is that for a company making a living by picking up dirt and debris from parking lots and roadways?

There's Nebraska's Arrow Striping Inc., which was acquired by a four-person team a few years ago and has transformed itself into a dominant parking lot and airport striping specialist by utilizing the varied talents of the four principals - and by re-thinking its crew composition.

And Triangle Asphalt Paving, which has relied on family members to not only survive in central Indiana but thrive in a transition from hot mix asphalt producer and highway paver to a commercial and city/county paving contractor that no longer produces its own hot mix.

These four companies, just like thousands of others in the paving and pavement maintenance industry, have little in common - except that each took a unique approach to its own unique business and market. There are a lot of ways to skin a cat, indeed, and "cat-skinning" is alive and well in the paving and pavement maintenance industry.