Sealcoating contractors are resilient
By Jeff Winke
The dang virus is affecting the sealcoating market. The coronavirus is having an impact on the work and when customers want it completed.
“Some sealcoat customers want to delay work during the pandemic, while others are using this downtime to expedite projects,” stated Jason Mixell, engineering and sales manager, Nealco Equipment, LLC, Shippensburg, Penn. “I’m seeing maintenance and small projects being pushed through, while big projects, especially government property jobs, are on hold.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has presented a great deal of obstacles, however, none have proved to be insurmountable.
“We have customers on our schedule who are fearful of the short term, perhaps rightfully so, while others are taking advantage of the state mandated limitations to customer and member traffic in their various facilities,” said Nicholas Barrack, vice president of Paving Contractors, Inc., Village, Va. “We have also experienced delays in a handful of our supply chains, albeit, our most essential material suppliers have delivered promptly as always.”
Founded in 1950, Paving Contractors, Inc. is an asphalt paving company that according to their website states “there is no job, public or private, too large for our experienced staff to handle.” They also provide sealcoat surface treatment and maintenance and repair patching throughout much of Virginia.
“Some of our sealcoat customers have requested we delay the start and completion of their respective projects due to concerns over the coronavirus, but we’re viewing this as a minor speed bump in the project’s life,” Barrack stated. “We have other customers requesting a ramped-up project completion rate where applicable in order to satisfy an expedient project completion deadline.”
Clearly, the concerns over contracting COVID-19 are changing how sealcoat contractors conduct business.
As Gary S. Goldman, Gary S. Goldman & Associates, LLC, Worcester, Mass., wrote: “The situation calls for us to be proactive–you cannot wait it out and assume life will come back to normal. You have to plan for the new normal and establish a current baseline. Everyday life has changed, so that standing two yards apart and wearing a face mask is becoming the new normal. The mindset and buying habits of current and future customers have also changed.”
Work needs to be completed safely.
“In terms of the additional safety measures we are taking, they are comprehensive,” Barrack said. “When transporting our dedicated teammates to and from job sites, we ride two people per vehicle, when at all possible. To encourage social distancing efforts, we have more than one common source of hydration for our personnel on the jobsite. We equip every vehicle with hand sanitizers, soaps, disinfectant wipes, and industrial strength cleaning wipes, in addition to providing personal protective equipment in the form of gloves and masks.”
Paving Contractors, Inc. has not changed its methods for getting new sealcoating business in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
“In our region of Virginia, we rely, immensely, on word of mouth from our past partnerships which include local retail business owners, Virginia Department of Transportation officials, property management teams, as well as retirement and medical community maintenance staff,” stated Barrack. “Additionally, we are proactively meeting with the boards and homeowner associations for condos to gauge the scope and scale of work to be done to their investments in roadways and parking areas.
“However, what has changed during this COVID-19 period is how we conduct face-to-face meetings. We avoid direct contact such as handshakes when greeting and concluding meeting, we wear face masks during all meetings, as well as ride separately while viewing and assessing work to be completed. These precautions are for everyone’s safety and to show respect to our customers.”
In some respects, the coronavirus pandemic has strengthened business relationships. Paving Contractors has found support from its sealcoat equipment supplier Nealco Equipment.
“Nealco Equipment has done an extraordinary job of ensuring we have a variety of parts for our custom-fitted ESSP-2000C sealcoating distributor truck,” said Barrack in reference to his Nealco-sourced custom-designed, 2-piece steel frame which is fabricated around the company’s sealer tank. “Jason Mixell, with Nealco Equipment, has been extremely professional and helpful throughout the COVID pandemic. He has been responsive and has been a wealth of knowledge throughout the design and implementation phases of building our distributor truck body unit.”
It is not far reaching or overly dramatic to state that the whole world is looking forward to ending the coronavirus pandemic.
When asked what it will be like to see the pandemic end, Nicholas Barrack concluded: “The lessons we have learned from the COVID-19 pandemic are as diverse as they are far reaching in that keeping a sanitary work environment is of the upmost importance now as well as in the future, not only for the health and well-being of our teammates, but for our partners and customers as well. In addition to ensuring our personnel and customers’ health is taken into full consideration, our business model will also change as to allow for a more rapid response time to fulfilling urgent and high-priority projects through the deployment of our knowledgeable and hardworking teammates using state-of-the-art, dependable equipment such as our Nealco ESSP-2000C truck-mounted distributor unit to cover more area in less time without sacrificing the quality of work that has built our positive reputation.”
Until the COVID-19 pandemic has ended, it may be wise to heed the advice given in a different era. Ahead of attacks on its cities during World War II, the British government issued and displayed posters with messages written to boost morale and mentally prepare its civilians. One of them, “Keep calm and carry on,” could be seen as appropriate for the COVID-19 age.
Jeff Winke is a business and construction writer based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He can be reached through firstname.lastname@example.org