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Any tips for someone new to the paving business?

Discussion in 'Pavers' started by Aliate, Feb 25, 2010.

  1. Aliate

    Aliate Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2009
    Messages:
    318
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    Ive been doing a lot of trenching work, and Im thinking about moving into the residential/commercial paving/excavation business. What I know about asphalt is only what Ive done with paving my trenches in streets. I dont have any experience with pavers, doing driveways etc. It seems pretty easy but Im sure theres plenty to learn....Ive been looking around at pavers, is it possible to get a decent paver for around 10,000? And really what pieces of equipment do you need to get started? I figured a roller, skid steer and the spreader. I have a 6 wheel 33,000lb dumptruck and a utility truck with electricity and an under deck air compressor for jack hammers.
     
  2. CM1995

    CM1995 Super Moderator

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    Occupation:
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    Aliate I would suggest that you research your intended market very well. I don't know how your area is but res/comm construction is way off across the country. Competition is very tight even tougher for a new guying trying to get in.

    What little I know about asphalt paving is that it's a tough business. Tonnage prices for asphalt fluctuate with oil prices, you are working with a perishable product on a regular basis and if you are going to be in the residential market your going to have competition from the Gypsy Pavers.
     
  3. Aliate

    Aliate Senior Member

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    Location:
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    whats the gypsy pavers? And yeah I was paying 55$ a ton last year at this time now Im paying 90$
     
  4. CM1995

    CM1995 Super Moderator

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    Gypsy pavers are the guys that travel from town to town ripping folks off. It usually goes like this: Guy knocks on the front door of usually elderly people, saying he just finished a job up the street and has some asphalt left over. He says the "normal" price to pave their drive is X and today he can do it for 20% of X because he has left over material. He says they will be laying down a "standard spec" driveway but in reality they skim 1/2" or so over the top. Looks good when they are finished but doesn't last a year. He gets paid in cash and long gone before the crappy job shows itself. They usually operate with no names on the doors, just a DOT #.

    Of course you wouldn't be this type of "contractor" but you may be competing with them. They also make a bad name for the small paving outfits that do good work.
     
  5. andoman

    andoman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2009
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    Location:
    midwest
    My honest opinion is not to get into the paving business right now, the initial investment would put you in an immediate disadvantage, plus the material prices are fluctuating wildly and you won't get fair pricing as the new guy. If I had to start something right now I'd go into seal coating build a reputation and client base then move into patching then paving. Since people are tight with money maintenance is the cost saving alternative right now. Good Luck.
     
  6. tripper_174

    tripper_174 Well-Known Member

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    Occupation:
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    Location:
    Manitoba, Canada
    Getting paid for small jobs can be a huge pain. If you do go ahead, ally yourself with a bigger company who is doing streets and larger jobs. They don't want to do driveways, etc..don't need the grief. If they move into Mayberry their plant will be handy, you can get your asphalt at your convenience and maybe make a buck. If you're in an urban area that's already well serviced..take up another occupation! Either way, good luck...
     
  7. Aliate

    Aliate Senior Member

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    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    thanks for all the advice everyone, how much do you usually mark up the asphalt, like how do you charge the customers? I know there is a lot of competition but Im really good at dealing with people and I have some good ideas in my head and a good look for my company. What I planned to do is advertise and wait to buy a paver, I have a dump truck and tool truck already, Im just missing a paver and a roller. Ive been doing a lot of maintenance work for time warner cable, and Im just trying to expand my horizons and move into the residential sector.

    Also there is a paving company that said he gets a lot of calls for driveways but doesnt do them as he does a lot of commercial paving. He said he would give them all to me, but Im just not sure how serious he is. Im going to find out this month, he takes winters off.
     
  8. griz

    griz Active Member

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    Occupation:
    equipment technician
    Location:
    usa
    I'm going to throw in my 2 cents here, if you don't already have a good reliable mechanic get yourself one and if you buy used machines, have your mechanic check them over, in and out and top to bottom, before you buy it, may save you tons of money down the road. Try to find the best operator you can afford and you can trust that won't tear up your machines because an operator can make you or break you.
    Good luck to you.
     
  9. andoman

    andoman Well-Known Member

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    Location:
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    just so you know most contractors stop doing residential asap because of the hassles of dealing with the owners and getting paid after a job. If you're not on your "A" game theres a good chance you won't get paid, I would suggest (as I'm someone who still does residential) working with your guys and get a solid game plan together prior to doing a driveway. Number one big area is edges make sure they're straight. Second is mix, if it's too stoney they'll fight paying you because it might look okay for a street or parking lot but that doesn't mean cr@p to a homeowner. Third the easiest place to get a puddle is the first ten feet out of the garage, you set down pad is the most critical part of the drainage plan, I would suggest checking everything with buckets of water before you leave the site, it will cost you a few extra minutes while you're there but it will save you having to come back.
     
  10. Pecord Exc

    Pecord Exc Well-Known Member

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    Oct 27, 2008
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    Location:
    Westchester, NY
    My opinion is sub out the big stuff, patch your trenches that is about it. Too much $$ to stuff into it right now and not enough work. and FWIW your paver operator isnt half as important as a good screed man. :drinkup
     
  11. endofrunway

    endofrunway Member

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    Location:
    W. Burlington, IA
    Also find yourself a good roller man. An inexperienced roller man can really screw up an otherwise good screed job.:Banghead
     
  12. andoman

    andoman Well-Known Member

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    Location:
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    And a good rake man will save your butt sometimes.
     
  13. Hendrik

    Hendrik Senior Member

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    Location:
    Adelaide South Australia
    I think what these nice gents are trying to say is you need a good team to work in the paving business.
    Best to scrap the idea until you have the right people to help you.
     
  14. griz

    griz Active Member

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    Occupation:
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    Hendrik, you hit the nail on the head. I hope all things are good in australia.
     
  15. TERM101

    TERM101 Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2009
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    Location:
    Mebane, North Carolina
    What everyone said here is very true. I do a few million a year in paving work. Everyone on your crew has got to know what they are doing and whats going on at all times. Best to have a top notch roller man and depending on the type of paver you start with you'll probably end up with a 2-3 man crew running the paving machine. Paving machine, trucks, and roller must flow together like music in order to work. A good paving machine and roller, along with a good crew to run it is a must. If you dont have that then you will make yourself sick coming to work everyday trying to make everything work, trust me, i've been there. Best advice I can give you right now is to maybe start some patching and sealcoating to try and break into the business, but as far as going out and buying an entire outfit, I would wait until the economy perks up a bit. Gypsys and cut throats are giving us a run for our money around these parts.
     
  16. catch22

    catch22 New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2010
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    Location:
    North Carolina
    I am looking into buying a paving company. 3 full time guys and 4 part time. Foreman is one of the 3 full time. I am buying purely for the numbers. Is there anything i should do first while researching this?
     
  17. andoman

    andoman Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    midwest
    purely by the numbers, now would be a horrible time because there may not be any profit potential in the current economy especially with a residential size contractor.
     
  18. catch22

    catch22 New Member

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    Location:
    North Carolina
    Thanks, the seller may or may not have health issues and this would be an acquisition purely based on the numbers (and it would be nice to create something of value to people). Anyway i would not look at it if the numbers were not right and the people were in place. However it always seems like there is a demand for non-highway blacktop paving. (parking lots/malls/apts/driveways/etc.)
     
  19. andoman

    andoman Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    midwest
    Those tend to be the lowest profit jobs these days because of the lack of work right now. The big highway guys are bidding that work along with the small driveway guys just trying to stay busy. Remember all work these days generally goes to the lowest bidder. Just trying to caution you because I've seen a lot of guys do the same thing in Michigan the past few years and none of the companies that got bought out have made it more than 2 or 3 years. Buying a asphalt company right now generally causes you to incur to much overhead, which generally isn't accounted for in the previous owners books. Good luck to you, and please don't take these comments the wrong way I truly wish you the best.
     
  20. The Tackman

    The Tackman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2010
    Messages:
    46
    Occupation:
    Paving Foreman in Atlanta
    Location:
    Georgia USA
    I would suggest that you work for a small outfit for a full paving season before buying the whole so called shooting match. I see that your location is NY that means you are in a "right to work" state IIRC. This will put you at a disadvantage unless you don't mind paying UNION wages to do the bigger companies driveways. Good luck no matter what you decide to do.