Compare/contrast before investing

By Jeff Winke

It is a given that the use of asphalt pavement provides a fast, efficient and economical construction process with unsurpassed versatility. If rehabilitation is required, it can be accomplished quickly with minimal user delay.

It all sounds so simple. However, the asphalt paving market with its machines, equipment, and processes is dynamic, evolving, and ever changing. Keeping pace is a challenge.

Researching the array of new products and services available to asphalt paving contractors can be a befuddling. Understanding complex technology alone can stymie smart contractors. The question becomes…..How best can a paving contractor compare/contrast new products to fit the needs?

An industry expert stated: “One of the first steps in making a decision is determining if the product is new or just a minor modification of something that already exist or that you already own,” Greg Sitek, Site-K Construction Zone. “With today’s rapidly advancing technologies, changes and/or advances should be significant.”

At the top of any comparison list should be, how current is the product’s technology and what are its benefits? “Power” has become a game changer for driven or operated vehicles or machines. Motorized vehicles and or machines are now being offered with the standard gasoline or diesel-powered internal combustion engines, but there are many manufacturers now offering battery-electric, hybrid-electric, and in some cases hydrogen power.

“What are you planning on doing with this acquisition,” Sitek said. “You don’t have the luxury of acquiring a new product because 1) it’s new 2) you might need it. Time is a valuable asset and you shouldn’t be wasting it speculating on if it is or is not going to improve your operation. Will it make you more productive or efficient? Will it expand the scope of your operation? Will it improve employee or jobsite safety? In the end, the important question is will it make you more profitable.”

Buying asphalt paving equipment should always be considered an investment. This means that the savings made on a purchase should be judged over the long term. There is no advantage in purchasing cheap–most likely poor-quality–products that are useful for a handful of jobs, but will begin to break down in just a few years.

The process of paving asphalt is demanding. Asphalt paving machines must be built to high specifications to withstand the heat and weight of mixer loads. Plus, they also need to use high-grade motor components, mechanical components, and a chassis. All of these factors need to be considered to ensure the machines, equipment, and components will keep delivering year after year.

“There are a number of reasons for considering the acquisition of a new product whether it’s a machine, truck/vehicle, hand-held tool or stationary piece of equipment,” Sitek said. “Factors include:

  • Changing business needs — has the scope of your business changed such that you need different equipment, machines, people?
  • Increase efficiencies and productivity — is the equipment you are current using out of date, lacking efficiencies or productivity (too small, too slow).
  • Improvements to safety and security — these should always be given the highest priority and maintained at highest possible level.
  • Take advantage of tax incentives — if you have the opportunity for tax incentives and can apply them to any of the above, do the math and determine the value.
  • And finally, once you have decided to add to your fleet or inventory, you need to explore your options–do you buy or do you lease. Both have advantages depending on your operation, location, length of job and your financial stature. Whenever you add to your fleet or inventory your operation should improve, or the addition is not merited.”

There are plenty of choices when it comes to new machines, equipment, and processes. The asphalt paving contractor needs to compare and contrast the options before investing in the solutions that will work best for the company and its operation.

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