A key to improved profitability

By Jeff Winke

Any help in boosting….increasing….turbocharging….. profit for an asphalt paving sealcoat contractor is definitely welcome. Skip the flim-flam, sure-bet promises. What really works? What can be done to improve the projects and the business?

Certainly, effort and hard work yields results. Additives can improve the performance characteristics of sealers and the contractor’s profit margins.

“Contractors depend on sealcoat additives to give them special properties specific to each job need,” stated Rick Poole, president of Diamond Shield Fortifier, Alexander, Arkansas. “Some of these properties include faster drying and curing, increased film strength and better bonding. Additives can increase oil and fuel resistance, give a darker and blacker color, and increase viscosity for better sand suspension, as well as many other benefits.”

Many different sealcoat additives are available in the market and knowing how they perform can be a value.

“Additives have been used since the inception of sealcoatings, dating back to late 1960’s when they were included in the FAA specifications, for the benefits that additives offered in terms of faster and uniform drying, thicken sealer for the desired sand suspension, provide better flexibility, toughness, fuel and chemical resistance, and increase overall longevity of the sealer, stated Girish Dubey, president of STAR, Inc., Columbus, Ohio. “Contractors can use all these benefits as their selling points for increasing the potential client base.”

Additives can help in many different situations.

“In some cases, such as high traffic areas like aprons and drive lanes, not using an additive can result in premature wear,” Poole said. “Fast food and hotel parking lots always benefit from faster drying and curing additives to accommodate speedy return to traffic. These businesses often have 24-hour traffic to the business and need the lot back as fast as possible. Old lots can benefit from extra bonding strength as they often wear quicker. And every contractor and property owner wants the job to be as dark and black as possible.”

Additives allow adjustments to mix designs that can accommodate various applications from high-sand loading to decreased curing times. However, not all additives are the same. Each has a unique blend of polymers to affect adhesion, cohesion, and viscosity in different ways and to different degrees.

“Additives can do many things depending on the application needed and ambient temperature,” stated Mark McLeod, president / CEO of Maintenance Inc., Wooster, Ohio. “When fall and spring arrives an additive will dry the sealer in cooler weather, It also will retard the too fast drying of sealer in hot weather, allowing the contractor to start earlier and work later in the year when ambient temps are iffy–a true contractor friend.”

McLeod continued, “Contractors are always looking for additives for drying the sealer, so they can get the directional markings laid and the lot open earlier. Additives do this.”

Additives can help in a lot of areas.

“Notwithstanding the performance enhancement, fast drying additives alone, have enabled the contractor’s faster turnaround on sealcoating projects,” Dubey said. ”The jobs like sealcoating in early spring and late fall, night time sealcoating, applying under not-so-ideal conditions are done with the use of additives. These applications were unthinkable before the advent of specialty additives.”

Additives help customers and the asphalt paving contractors who use them.

“Savvy Contractors who want the best results for their customers use additives as an important tool in ensuring the sealer is dry, and cures out properly and dries black to enhance the directional line markings,” McLeod said. “Additives are a contractor’s friend and can be a contractor’s savior.”

Even though the usage amounts are small, additives can be the key to success in achieving the superior properties of a sealer, which could be the difference between a good job and a great job in sealcoating business.

“Using a faster drying and curing additive can save time and money decreasing return trips by the crew to the job because many lots can often be opened then same day.” Poole said. “Less wear and tear on vehicles and less gas and time on and to the job site all equal substantial cost savings. And the customer gets a quicker turnaround to open back to traffic. Everyone wins.“

Taken all together the benefits of sealer additives add up.‘There are more good reasons to utilize additives in your mix design than not’ McLeod said. ‘I could go on and on with the benefits of incorporating additives in your mix, however the big three would be dry times are shorter, curing the sealer is faster, and dries the sealer black for enhanced visual clarity on the line markings.”