By Bryce Davis

2020 has been a very different type of year for most of us in the paving world, to say the least. We’ve all had to adjust to our own new normal way of doing business for the most part. For one, with social distancing and wearing masks or gaiters/buffs in some markets has become the new normal. Good news is most of us were blessed to be able to keep working as an essential business and industry during the worst part of the COVID-19 timeframe. Because of this, I’m hearing that most have been able to make it work and are having a profitable year so far. Time to start thinking ahead before the end of the year. One question, should we use the Section 179 & Deprecation Bonus or not in 2020? This is a question for your Tax Accountant and/or CFO to review with you. If you do decide to buy a new commercial class paver here at the end of 2020, I just wanted to give you a few things to look for and consider before buying any brand.

• First and foremost, would be to look into your local commercial class paver dealership. Do they have parts on the shelf and do they have the service support staff that is trained and ready to be there for you during your ownership of this machine to keep you up and running when needed? In easy terms, will they be there for you when it’s the end of the day and you have 5 trucks to unload?

• Is the brand you’ll buy a trusted one you can count on?

• Lowest price is not always the best value. Remember to consider cost of ownership vs. acquisition cost.

• Determine your overall lifetime cost and profits of owning this machine. The cost per ton of your machine is the deciding factor.

• Warranty. How long, what does it cover, can you extend it? Many customers are choosing an extended warranty for the same amount of time as their lease or note.

• Do you finance your purchase or is a lease better for you?

• What’s the average resale value of the brand you plan to buy? Remember to look at auction results as well as retail offerings.

• What size machine best fits your growing needs, tilt hopper or conveyor feed? Weight of machine, horsepower needed and will the machine fit your needs in two years, according to your growth plans?

• Don’t forget about your trailer needs after your paver purchase, will you need a bigger one, longer one, something that can carry more weight?

• Make sure to check out all of the improvements that your brand/s have made since your last purchase. Do these improvements add value to your operation?

• What options or items do you need on a machine for your market and environment? Like cooling packages, lubrication systems, screed controls, heated end gates, power crown and valley, automatic screed heat control, propane or electric heat, sloping extensions, truck hitch, joy sticks or steering wheel, grade and slope controls, standing or seating operating platforms, steel, poly pads or rubber tracks, main screed and extension vibrators, wash and spray down system, adjustable push rollers, fuel consumption, hardness of wear items – conveyors, augers and screed plates. Again, what adds value to one contractor, might not work for your operation.

• Easy to operate. Will the dealer commit to training?

• Easy to maintain.

• Easy to load and unload from your trailer.

I’ve just listed the high points here, but your list can be a lot more for what’s important to you and your crew for your market. The top item to answer once you’re down to making a decision is can I/we make money with this machine? Is it a productive and money making paver for our operation? Because for most companies this machine will be an investment for you and your firm over the next three to seven years. Every brand has their pros and cons, so do your homework when making this investment for the best ROI for you and your company. I wish all of you a strong finish to your 2020 paving season and a safe ending for you and your crews in having to deal with COVID-19 for almost all of this crazy year.

Bryce Davis is the Director of Sales for ST Engineering LeeBoy, Inc. He can be reached via email at