Green Machine Keeps on Rolling
Allied Blacktop CO. handles all things asphalt and concrete
Allied Blacktop CO. began in 1954 as a small family business focused on paving and patching residential driveways. Satisfied customers led to more driveway jobs and, eventually, to bigger and more demanding commercial work.
“Word-of-mouth has always been our greatest lead generator,” says Brent Capistrant, Vice President, who along with his father, Pete Capistrant, President, operates Allied Blacktop. Pete’s father, Gene, was the company’s founder.
Today, Allied Blacktop is a prominent Minneapolis, Minnesota, asphalt paving contractor that employs more than 90 people, serving a wide range of customers across Minnesota and the region. Customers include commercial and multifamily properties; large industrial complexes; town home association properties; other large asphalt paving contractors; and city, state and federal municipalities.
As it’s grown, the company has been successful in evolving to accommodate new and improved technologies now used in the paving industry.
Asphalt Repair, Maintenance and Paving
Allied Blacktop strives to help its customers maintain their asphalt investment by offering three main categories of service—asphalt repair, asphalt maintenance and new construction.
Asphalt repair is the typical approach in fixing small asphalt problems in order to extend the life of blacktop. It could include patching, adding a new asphalt overlay or reclaiming. And, it could involve constructing or repairing catch basins that collect runoff to prevent further damage around parking lots, paths or roadways.
Allied Blacktop strongly recommends regular upkeep of asphalt through maintenance activities, such as protecting surfaces from water, dirt and weather by seal coating and crack sealing. The team advocates routine sweeping and cleaning of parking lots and roadways. It also develops a tailored maintenance plan based on each customer’s specific needs.
Because the company is well versed in asphalt paving, it can handle all aspects of a paving job, from grading and tree removal to installing catch basins and other drainage projects.
Brent says the company’s commitment to attentive scheduling and customer satisfaction are attributes that help differentiate it from other paving contractors.
“We usually have about an eight-month working season in Minnesota, so weather highly influences our ability to work,” he says. “Our goal is to schedule each job about a week in advance. As the weather changes, we keep in close touch with customers to provide updated schedules.”
Scheduling can require true juggling skills as Allied Blacktop may have seven or eight crews working on different jobs each day. And, depending on the size of the jobs, each worker may work on two to four different projects a day.
Commitment to Family
As a family-owned and -operated business, Brent and Pete honor their commitment to “family” in how they operate and relate to their employees.
“We really believe in the importance of family. We want all of our employees to know that we value them as individuals—they’re not just numbers,” Brent says. “We also think people who are happy at home tend to be happy at work.
“We know how important it is to have the weekend off, so we do our best to work with employees so that they can be available for important events in their family lives,” he adds. “We promote a respectful work environment. Also, we honor exemplary employees each month and reward employees by acknowledging them. We even give out tickets to area sporting events.”
Allied Blacktop strongly supports solid safety practices and regularly trains employees on how to perform their work safely. Workers also are observed on job sites where they are commended for good safety habits and guided in correct work procedures.
“Obviously, we want everyone to be able to go home in the same condition that they were when they came to work,” he says.
Minimizing Environmental Impact
Allied Blacktop maintains a fleet of large green trucks, and each truck sports the company name and nickname, “The Green Machine.” The tagline goes beyond describing just the color of the vehicles; it underscores the company’s commitment to minimizing its environmental impact.
Everything we do is designed to think green,” Brent says. “We recycle all asphalt and concrete, install energy-efficient lighting throughout our offices and prohibit the use of coal tar due to its carcinogenic content.”
He adds that the company implemented some of its environmental measures even before it was required to do so. For example, Minnesota just recently banned the use of coal-tar seal coats—a practice that Allied Blacktop discontinued many years ago. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency recognizes the company as a pledged contractor and coal-tar-free seal coat supplier.
“As a union contractor, we can offer better living wages than a non-union contractor. So, we attract a more skilled base of workers, which results in our ability to provide greater quality work,” he explains.
Brent recalls when Allied Blacktop was hired by a general contractor in 2017 for renovation and remodeling work at Oliver Kelley Farm, a historic farmstead in Elk River, Minnesota. The farmstead is a National Historic Landmark, which also places it on the National Register of Historic Places.
Allied Blacktop was asked to apply a chip seal coating to the surface of one of the farm’s asphalt trails.
“This particular chip seal was unique in that the aggregate was limestone, and limestone is not the typical chip seal aggregate. The purpose of the limestone rock was to create a natural looking trail, and the process of chip sealing kept the aggregate in place on the asphalt surface."
“Another challenge with this project was that the accessibility to the trail itself was limited, and that required specialized equipment. We acquired the equipment needed specifically for the job,” he says. “There are not many other companies in the state capable or willing to take on a project like this.”
Environmentally Sensitive Project
The next year, Allied Blacktop served as the general contractor for an assignment on Lock and Dam #3 for the Army of Corps of Engineers in Welch, Minnesota. The Corps of Engineers originally completed the facility in 1938, and it serves as one of 29 locks and dams on the Upper Mississippi River.
Allied Blacktop’s assignment was to patch damaged asphalt, pave new asphalt over a parking lot, crack seal the remainder of the asphalt surface, chip seal the remainder of the asphalt surface, chip seal the same surface that was crack sealed, sweep up the loose chip seal aggregate and apply a fog seal to the top of the chip seal.
“Because the site was sensitive, we were held to a tight scheduling window, which required work to be done on consecutive days. This left virtually no window for error, like with material shipping, equipment breakdown or bad weather scenarios,” Brent says. “This site was also highly sensitive because it was situated right next to the river, and we had to be extra environmentally conscientious while applying our liquid asphalt materials.
“High humidity and a random rain shower could have been disastrous if we had not taken special precautions,” he continues. “The project documents required we have a safety officer, quality control manager and a project supervisor on site during the entire project. This all required us to have advanced training to work for the Army Corps of Engineers,” he adds. “The project was completed successfully, and our staff was commended for its work at the end of the project. I think this project demonstrates that we are staffed and equipped to work on any type or size of asphalt maintenance and rehabilitation project.”
Although 2020 was a challenging year for the company, Brent says Allied Blacktop maintained its profitability. He says the company has averaged $20 million to $25 million in gross revenues over each of the last five to six years.
“We may not be the biggest company, but we like to think of ourselves as one of the best by ensuring that we give value to our customers,” Brent adds.