By Brian Hall
Perfection. It’s what we all strive for, whether it’s on the jobsite or in our personal lives. Sometimes we get close, many times we fall short, but the pursuit never should cease. When talking to contractors, I always tell them, “give yourself the best chance to succeed.” Athletes study film, work out and diet. Corporate executives budget, attend seminars and react to trends. Our military and first responders spend much of their time preparing so that nothing surprises them when an emergency arises. So why should an asphalt contractor be any different. From the crew to the foreman to the estimators, we all should prepare for any type job or any surprise on any job. This month, we’ll explore ways to make sure we’re ready when the truck hits the job.
Estimating the jobs. The success of a paving job goes far beyond length, width and depth. This only holds true if you care about referrals and repeat business, of course. When looking at a job, it’s most important to evaluate why you are paving the area in the first place. If it is new construction, how was the base constructed. Base failure is the biggest cause of asphalt erosion so a proof roll is a must. On overlay jobs, reflective cracking is our biggest enemy. When a customer understands what might happen if you allow alligator cracks to remain under an overlay job, it makes it much easier to apply the proper warranty.
Bringing the right equipment. I’m not talking about the heavy pieces here like your paver, roller or skid steer, I’m referring to the auxiliary equipment such as blowers, pressure washers or brooms. When we do an overlay job and allow dust, leaves and miscellaneous trash to remain on the paving surface, the finished product will certainly suffer. The main reason being that the tack will adhere to the dust and trash instead of the paving surface causing certain failure. Having a broom and leaf blower on hand to clear the surface while we are waiting on asphalt can mean the difference between a good or great job. Another prominent issue in overlay jobs is the presence of oil, grease or other substances on the surface to be paved. While it may be hard to completely remove these coatings, a pressure washer with the proper cleaners can clean the surface good enough so you can pave with confidence. How about weeds? Where weeds grow, it’s certain that there was water, and water means potholes down the road. A backpack sprayer for weed control will certainly go a long way toward a long lasting finished product.
Safety should be our first priority. As I have mentioned many times, the most important rule we should have is that we bring home every team member and with the same quality of life they had when we left in the morning. The difference this time is that I’m not referring to our flagman or safety vests or even hardhats, I’m talking about being ready for the unexpected. When we are dealing with a high temperature product, we must be ready for an emergency. What would you do if one of your crew members is unexpectedly burned by liquid asphalt or? Or if a barefoot child walks across a hot mat? How about of one of your hydraulic lines unexpectedly breaks and comes in contact with engine exhaust. Hopefully you will never have to experience these tragedies, but when your crew has the skills to jump into action, injuries can be mitigated. Industry groups can provide you with suggested treatments for burns and you are typically required to have MSDS sheets on hand for reference. Make sure your crew knows how to access these valuable documents and regular training sessions are fit into your schedule.
We all want to succeed. If you didn’t, you’d be in some other business, but with today’s long, hot days, sometimes the things we know we should do get pushed to the side. Take the time each day to step back and take a look at what got us here. Never lose that drive to be perfect. Sometimes we fall short but more times than not, you’ll find that you’re right on the mark.
Brian Hall, LeeBoy Territory Manager. He can be reached via email at email@example.com