The answer may surprise you.

By Brian Hall

Years ago, there was a car company that had the slogan “Quality is job 1”. While I think we all would agree that this is the end goal of any successful company, what are we really doing to make sure that it is our result and not just a catchy slogan or buzzword? We all take the time to learn what to and what not to do to ensure a great finished product, but do we really put those practices to work when the job gets rolling? The biggest excuse I hear for not following common sense rules is that “It’s just the binder course, it really doesn’t matter.” Well, number one, it does matter. Low quality binder reflects in low quality surface. Number two, when you teach your crew that the binder doesn’t matter, then you are subliminally telling them that quality doesn’t matter at all. This month, let’s highlight some of these “worst” practices.

Walking or driving on the uncompacted mat. I see it every day, especially on the binder. Lute and shovel men tracking up what used to be a great mat. Foremen should always discourage walking on an uncompacted mat. Footprints cause a dip in the mat that a roller will bridge over and leave a void that will ultimately cause a birdbath or even potholes because of the air voids left in the mat. Pneumatic rollers can help, but won’t solve the issue totally. If you must walk on fresh asphalt, tamp shoes are always an option as it helps spread your weight over a larger area. Recently, I observed a job where a car was allowed to drive on fresh binder asphalt. Friends, there is no way that will end up being quality work unless the asphalt is re-worked. It will take a little extra work to hold up traffic for the roller or even detour so you can work at a manageable pace. Patience and preparation of the jobsite is the key.

Cleaning trucks in the area to be paved. Different jobs have different challenges as far as space, but truck drivers should always have a spot to safely clean their trucks. When drivers leave chunks of cold asphalt in the path to be paved, compaction suffers and the end result is air voids because the material cannot be manipulated properly. The only exception is if you have a skid steer loader or broom to immediately clear the area of the cold asphalt. In any event, the unused asphalt should be removed from the jobsite and deposited in the spoils bin. Many times I see contractors who have payed thousands of dollars per day to mill an area to the correct grade, only to allow a dump truck to deposit chunks of cold asphalt in front of the paver.

Not taking time to clean equipment. I get it. It’s been a long hard day. All you want to do is park the machines and get off the job site. But, besides your employees, your machines are your largest investment. Isn’t it worth taking a few minutes at the end of the day to make sure everything is ready to go in the morning, especially while all the dirt, grime and asphalt are fresh and easier to clean? Cleaning the paver is a no brainer; clean all of the excessive asphalt with your approved release agent, but did you know that if you spray the machine down before your last truckload of asphalt, the new, hot asphalt will almost clean the machine for you. Also, don’t forget to clean the bristles of your broom, spray down and clean your tack equipment and most importantly, top off all of your fuel and DEF tanks. This prevents condensation forming and contaminating your fluids.

I really don’t think I have told you anything that you don’t already know, but are you currently taking them for granted? Contractors are always looking for things that set them apart from the crowd, and this may just be the jump start for you and your crew. Team members should hold each other accountable for bad practices and your team will soon get the reputation as the quality leader.

Brian Hall, LeeBoy Territory Manager. He can be reached via email at