Adding pavement marking can boost the bottom line

By Jeff Winke

When talking about the road of life or taking the less-traveled road, one has to wonder is it generally understood that these roads have pavement striping to keep the traveler in the correct safe lane and to prevent them from straying off the road into a ditch. In today’s day and age, it’s difficult to imagine any paved surface without markings to guide drivers on where to drive and/or park, and to guide pedestrians on where to walk. Clearly, roadway pavement and parking lot striping or painting is important and asphalt pavers who don’t offer it as part of their service package will want to look into it.

“The biggest benefit to adding line striping services to your list of services is that you no longer have to rely on the outsourcing of work to other contractors, stated Woodrow Adams, operations manager with STAR, Inc., Columbus, Ohio. “Offering pavement marking, helps ensure that your jobs are completed on time, but more importantly on your terms.”

Outsourcing of pavement marking work can add unwanted time to a project.

“We are hearing that, once sealed/paved, it could literally take days or weeks to get the job striped,” stated Don Hollon, sales manager with Kelly-Creswell Co., Inc., Springfield, Ohio. “So, if the paving contractor owns the equipment, they can complete a job faster. They become a one-stop shop and have more control over the completion date and quality of the job.”

Added revenue is a strong incentive to consider diversifying a contractor’s offering into pavement painting or striping.

As Mike Vangstad, global product marketing manager of Pavement Maintenance & Turf Products for the Graco Contractor Equipment Division of Graco, Inc., Minneapolis, Minnesota succinctly stated: “Why sub-contract out this business when you can do it yourself and grow your own business?”

The return on an investment in striping equipment can be rapid.

“The starting price point is around $4,000 for a basic striper,” Vangstad said. “This lower cost machine would have a very quick return on investment, possibly in one or two jobs, but would require manual layout of the parking lot – making each job less profitable. There are stripers on the market today that require a higher initial investment but allow you to get the job done in a fraction of the time with less people. There are systems available that allows one person to stripe a newly paved parking lot without the of use tape measures, string line or chalk.”

Increased revenue is only part of an incentive to add striping to a paving contractor’s service mix.

“More important than for the expansion of revenue base, a paving contractor, especially small to mid-size, may consider adding striping simply for better control on projects completion,” stated Girish C. Dubey, President, STAR, Inc. “Except for home driveways, most commercial pavements and roads need to be striped promptly, for opening to traffic. Although striping is commonly subcontracted, delays are possible due to scheduling conflicts. Simply speaking, paving contractors may find ‘vertical integration’ of striping beneficial for better controls and profits, at reasonable capital expenditure.”

Dubey summarized the overall value of adding pavement striping to a paver’s business as being (1) better control on the timely completion of paving projects which need to be striped on a tight schedule, for opening to traffic, (2) the expansion of the revenue base, and (3) better control on overhead costs.

For contractors adding pavement marking to their company, learning how to effectively operate the equipment can initially seem intimidating. The questions become what skills are required to operate striping equipment? And where should a contractor go to receive proper training?

“Training on how to operate the striping equipment is most often provided by the store or company where the equipment is purchased,” Vangstad said. “More advanced training on how to stripe and how to layout a parking lot can be found in a couple different places. First, the National Pavement Expo show that takes place every February and includes ‘how to’ training seminars on the full range of subjects, including parking lot striping, layout techniques, etc. Secondly, go to YouTube where there are tons of videos on this subject–some good, some not so good. But it’s worth spending some time looking at how others do it. Finally, practice, practice, practice… I’d recommend practicing with water to perfect your technique to achieve straight lines and good stop/starts, then move to paint.”

Proper operation of any equipment is essential.

“Striping is a skilled operation, and the personnel must be property trained by the equipment manufacturer or dealer,” stated Dubey. “Commonly, traffic marking paint manufactures also help in training for the use of their brand of products. Some major paint manufacturers are also machine dealers.”

Hollon offered perspective: “You hear non-stripers say ‘you’re just putting paint on the ground,’ but there are so many variables involved that include viscosity of paint, temperature, and thickness of the paint. To do a good job it takes passion and talent to do it right.

“You can receive training of the equipment from the manufacturer, but–if you can get it– your best training comes from stripers who have been doing it 20, 30 or more years. They understand the whole picture–equipment, paint, speed, etc.”

For some contractors, diversifying into striping does not apply.

“While it can certainly make sense for smaller paving companies to diversify into striping, it’s not the industry standard for long-line highway striping,” stated Liz Harding, marketing and sales with Mark Rite Lines Equipment Company, Inc., Billings, Montana. “The equipment focus of our company serves highway pavers which typically operate under government contracts which hire paving and (typically) separate, striping subcontractors. We are the industry’s largest manufacturer of long-liner striping equipment. We concentrate on manufacturing equipment for long-line highway striping and sell mostly to contractors who do work for these state and federal highway jobs. We also sell to many state governments directly for their striping needs.”

To wrap up, roadway pavement and parking lot striping or painting is important for several reasons. For one, it ensures safety by guiding drivers and pedestrians on where to drive or walk respectively. It can control traffic flow in the area and prevents accident occurrence. Pavement striping also helps maximize parking space, improve the curb appeal of a facility, and ensure proper access by disabled employees or visitors.

Adding pavement marking to an asphalt paving contractor’s services offered can help meet customer needs while fattening the company’s wallet.

Jeff Winke is a business and construction writer based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He can be reached through