Working to be "Better than Everybody"
Affordable Paving & Excavating targets GCs, adds services...sweats the small stuff
When Tom Shumate started Affordable Paving & Excavating LLC 12 years ago, he had never run a paver. But he knew how to run a business.
Today, that fledgling company, located in Lititz, Pennsylvania, and that started with only three people, has become a one-call solution for property managers and general contractors alike, according to Shumate. The 33-person company generates half its sales from paving and pavement repair, 35 percent from concrete and the remaining 15 percent from a changing mix of pavement demolition, excavating, sealcoating and striping–working on everything from driveways to parking lots to roads.
“We started right before the recession, and while everyone was going out of business, we were growing bigger and bigger,” Shumate says. “I never wanted to be just like everybody. I wanted to be better than everybody.”
Prior to becoming a paving contractor, Shumate had run a variety of different businesses, including hosting concerts and festivals, and running consumer trade shows in nine states. So he did understand the business side of a company. “Part of the reason we’ve been so successful is me, my passion for running a business,” he says. “I never just bought a paver. And you know what? Blacktop is easy. Learning how to run your own business is the hard part, and I already knew how to do that.”
Working for GCs
He says 50 percent of Affordable Paving’s work is for general contractors, doing mostly paving and concrete. “We get a lot of those jobs because we offer one-call solutions,” he says. “They don’t have to call one contractor for asphalt and one for concrete because we do both.”
“We’re a favorite of GCs right away because of our performance,” Shumate says. “It’s a hands-on kind of thing. I don’t try to micromanage, but I keep my hands on to make sure the quality is there. Quality over quantity will win every day. You might not make as much money that first year, but if you pursue quality over quantity you’ll make much more money in the long run…and you won’t lose your business.”
Shumate says the company was first started as Affordable Paving, without any excavating. Then, when it was time for them to build their own 60-ft. x 120-ft. steel building, they rented the equipment and handled all the excavating. We had people who did excavating for a living telling us how good a job we did,” he says. “So, we realized we could provide that service ourselves instead of subbing it out.” It also gave them more control over that aspect of their paving operation and put them even another step closer to being a full-service paving contractor–something he says GCs, especially, found appealing.
He says that they get a lot of calls from property managers for renovation of parking lots–in particular, parking lots that need to be brought into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). “We’re experts on ADA,” Shumate says. “We know those regulations inside and out. We can go in there and do any demolition needed, any paving whether it’s concrete or asphalt, and then we can stripe it to specifications. We schedule it, and we get in and do the job and they don’t have to worry about scheduling any other contractor.”
So, a property manager calling to bring their parking lot into compliance with the ADA only has to make one phone call.
A Focus on Details
humate says his hands-on approach to business is only one aspect of providing quality work. “We don’t cheat people and we don’t skimp on the details,” he says. From start to finish, from the first meeting with the customer until the invoice goes out, we’re paying attention to detail. “The parking lot is striped to specification, our stripes are straight, we compact the pavement the way it’s supposed to be compacted, and we warranty all our work. We can warranty it because we do a quality job. If we did a lousy job we couldn’t warranty it. Nobody bats a thousand but we stand behind our work, and if there’s ever a problem, we go back and fix it.”
He says a good example of Affordable Paving & Excavating’s attention to detail is how the company handles work within a development as a subcontractor to a GC. Before Affordable Paving turns the job back over to the developer to hand over to the village, Affordable Paving’s crews pressure wash all the manhole lids to remove any debris. Then they paint them black. “Nobody does that,” he says. “It might be a small detail, but it looks great and the village can’t believe it.”