Leading with Integrity
Covering New Ground with Rose Paving
We pound it, surf the slipstream just above it, follow it to destinations real and imagined. Yet, most of us don’t give much thought to how pavement actually happens. Spoiler alert: it takes precise coordination, incredibly hard work, and enough patience to frustrate a Zen master.
As CEO of Rose Paving LLC., Ed Campbell knows all about those things. Campbell leads the Chicago-based firm, and he and his team can fill volumes about the vagaries of laying asphalt in the City of the Big Shoulders – and in Honolulu, and Toronto, and Tallahassee – you get the idea.
Established in 1974, the award-winning company is a leading national specialist in parking lot management services, with roughly 360 employees and a network of highly-skilled subcontractors working beneath their corporate umbrella.
“What people outside our business don't understand is how scientific paving is,” Campbell told BOSS. “It's simple in nature, but there are a lot of factors that go into how long your paving is going to last.” With asphalt paving, a favorite surface material for parking lots, weather affects the ability to set the paving properly.
“As far as weather goes, it's such a big factor in our business. It drives how productive we can be in a day, which is something people don't understand. For instance, if it's a really hot day and you're putting down asphalt, it's hard to get great compaction because the asphalt is still almost in liquid form,” he said. “Seasonality is another big issue. How much paving can you do in a year before the snow or the bad weather comes?”
Named 2018’s Top Paving Contractor by Pavement Magazine, Rose operates eight regional offices, including their newest in Phoenix. “Our acquisition of KFM Striping and Curb Company, one of our subcontractors, is a perfect example of how our strong partnerships can turn into a win-win situation for us and our customers,” Campbell explained.
The strategic choice to set up a hub in Arizona is strongly linked to seasonality, and the availability of a great workforce. “Our second biggest challenge is finding good people. We're always continuing to look for top talent, but with unemployment the way it is today, that's hard to do,” he continued. “That's why Phoenix is such an important acquisition for us — as is Tampa, where you can almost pave 365 days a year. In Chicago, paving stops when the snow starts to fly.”
Battling Sleet, Frost Heaves, and Heat Islands
As you might expect, safety is an overarching concern for an enterprise that requires workers who can literally take the heat while maintaining the necessary productivity to stay on schedule. “The safety of our workers is always our main concern. The dehydration they go through during the day in the heat is a big issue. Also, how much productivity can you get when the asphalt is difficult to compact and when your workforce is challenged with the weather in production and getting what they can down in a day without being dehydrated. It raises a question: can you do paving at night?”
The answer is yes, but with a hefty price tag that hits on a number of levels, including safety, lighting, traffic control, and the need to keep asphalt supply plants operational over the course of a 24-hour day.
“Having employees work at night is one cost, and then being able to have your supplier provide raw materials at night means they have to run their plants almost 24 hours straight. It sounds like a great idea, but the execution is difficult. Costs skyrocket with nighttime work, but clients choose the option when day work is untenable due to traffic, crowds, and other factors.
As a construction industry vet, Campbell has seen the industry change, particularly when it comes to paving technology. “We're continually looking for the best way to put down a product that's going to last the longest in the least amount of time,” he admitted.
Advances in chemistry have changed the liquid composition of asphalt, adding longevity, as well as in managing the solar reflectivity of the material. “People tend not to remember that asphalt is black, so in certain climates it's retaining heat. For instance, in Chicago, clients are saying that asphalt parking lots retain heat, so it's costing more to run air conditioning at night. It's the heat island effect. When asphalt isn't cooling and you set your thermostat at 72 degrees it takes longer and expends more energy to cool the building. Reflectivity coating that doesn’t hold the heat will be a game-changer in our industry.”
On the Information Technology front, Rose recently invested a cool $2 million to build a cloud-based system that will communicate with the majority of their customers, partners, and internal application systems. In addition, we have plans to make paperless invoicing a reality. The system will also enable Rose to track the progress of every job in real-time and refine their scheduling processes.
Despite technology, “We still need to almost put boots on the ground to look at every project because every single project is unique.” Work conducted for clients with multiple sites, known as program work, is contracted differently from single-site jobs. “The program work is contracted on a linear foot level for crack seal and a square foot level for sealcoating. It's up to you and the customer to figure out how many linear feet of cracks and how many square feet there are in that parking lot. Every Walgreens, every Home Depot, every parking lot is designed differently,” he revealed.
“Paving companies that didn't change with the technologies of their customers are having a very hard time in the marketplace today,” he opined. “They're looking for speed, accuracy, and scheduling. Customers are always looking for a quality product, because the parking lot is the biggest expense for a property, second to the building. They're looking for something that's going to be done quickly, not to interrupt their business, at a competitive price — but being a quality product that they're not going to have to continually maintain to a high level every single year.”
Beneath those yards and yards of carefully set hot top is a workforce motivated by a culture of shared enthusiasm, expertise, responsibility, and a commitment to charitable giving. Consistently rated as one of Chicago’s top workplaces, Rose cares deeply for their employees and the communities they serve. “Our company culture is the most important thing for our success,” Campbell said.
Whether treating staff to a raft of fun (and delightfully funny events) such as Rose Paving’s Got Talent, interoffice Olympics competitions, costume parties, and a host of cultural holiday celebrations, or doing pro bono work for the Ronald McDonald House, St. Jude’s Children’s Medical Center, Habitat for Humanity, and dozens of other charitable organizations, the management is committed to creating, as Campbell suggested, “a Google-like atmosphere in the paving world.”
If by that he means getting the results each unique customer seeks on their desired timeline, he’s right on point. Add to that the ability to cultivate a team that loves to come to work every day and in every kind of weather, supporting a philanthropic mission to do well by doing good, and a simple and enduring love of the business? We’ll proudly tread that road with the people of Rose Paving any day.
For 40 years, Rose Paving LLC has set the standard by which all other paving contractors are measured. Today, they continue to provide award-winning parking lot management solutions to commercial and industrial properties nationwide. With their headquarters in Bridgeview, Illinois, convenient satellite locations, and a network of alliance partners, they are able to work closely with you and all of your locations to deliver unique solutions.
Rose Paving is always covering new ground. They accomplish this not only through our parking lot management services, but also through their industry-leading achievements. With the green building movement sweeping the nation, Rose Paving is once again pioneering the way to better paving practices by offering eco-friendly alternatives in addition to their existing line of conventional products.