By Marvin Joles III
With one of the larger Asphalt Industry Expos recently coming to a close in Charlotte, NC last month, there were a lot of new products on display. Make no mistake, there were pieces of equipment that were on display that have been largely unchanged through the years as well. As my team, friends, Peers and I walked around the show floor and spoke to vendors…we made some observations, ones I think are important to notice.
Firstly, software and Advanced technology are coming upon our industry rapidly. The amount of CRM/Mapping/Estimating software products that are, and are becoming, available to us, is growing fast. Some of the ones we have seen for a few years are even adapting AI technology to improve on the efficiency of these types of software. If you haven’t taken a look at or adopted a bidding/CRM software because it is “too advanced” or “too intimidating”, holding out longer may not be the right move…as they are getting more complex with each passing quarter. However, to those who do keep up with this technology and adapt to it, it may create a large amount of efficiency separation between your company and your competitors.
As an example of this, I look to the Striping industry. If the creation and adoption of the Laser Technology over a decade ago wasn’t enough to cause a large efficiency gap between the early adaptors and those who didn’t… the “Auto-Layout” and its impact was. The two innovations have created some iconic “Line Stripers” as people within the industry, but also made their companies flourish as they blew past the competition by creating an incredible amount of efficiency. We believe the software advancements with AI, as mentioned in the previous paragraph can possibly do the same thing. Now, as the striping Industry starts to adopt Electric Line Drivers and Stripers, as was on display in Charlotte again, that segment of our industry looks to lead the pack again in another tangent. Shout out to those paint geeks that are leading the tech push in our industry overall.
It was also no secret that the Blacktop Banter Edition KM International Sealcoat Unit was on display at this show. We were fortunate to work with an iconic brand to design the unit in the was that we as Asphalt Maintenance Contractors at Wis-Coat, our asphalt company, would want it. The trailered Sealcoat unit is obviously not a new concept in this industry and we can move the components and parts around, change the color scheme, add “bigger this” and “shinier that” but it isn’t going to move the needle in the sealcoat section of our industry enormously… even though the Brand might. However, and of course this is the “Social Media Content is King” side of me speaking, the end product that the customer ultimately is buying when they purchase a collaborative product like this DOES change the game. For all the steel, rubber and wiring that comprises a machine like this…it also comes with what you don’t see. Through the BB and KM collaboration, this product also comes with Access to the Blacktop Banter Contractor Group (24/7 chat group for support in EVERYTHING related to owning an asphalt business) with 3 video calls a month, a Social Media Assessment Snapshot to see where the contractor can use help in that area and a Target Market Branding plan to start putting your company and services in front of the right potential clients, just to name a few. Something like this has never been offered ever before and makes the competitive price point to the other brands very interesting for the future. Not only can you now buy a piece of equipment, but the equipment itself now comes with a team and product that aims to help you succeed in business with that machine.
Of course I am excited about the partnership I mentioned at the end of the last paragraph, but I’m also excited because it could be the start of more collaborations and changes, that will help the people who we, as Industry Companies and Leaders, should care about most, the community of contractors we serve and lead, who’s eyes and ears are on us all as we move into new times and possible a new era of how things work.
As always, if you have any insight or criticisms about this article or anything in it (which I have a feeling there will be), please feel free to email me at email@example.com or of course, reach out to us at Blacktop Banter on any form of social media.
Marvin Joles III, Owner of Wis-Coat Asphalt Maintenance and host of Blacktop Banter podcast. You can listen to and watch
Blacktop Banter podcasts by visiting https://blacktopbanter.com