Featuring Kevin Gray of ADC Paving
Phil (00:00): All right, Mr. Gray. Good to go?
Kevin (00:04): Good to go.
Phil (00:04): All right. If you could just start off by telling us a little bit about how 2021 is going. Maybe include any differences between 2020 and how you may be progressing in your business.
Kevin (00:19): Sure. Yeah, 2021 has been off to a great start for us. We set some lofty goals for this season. Really taking an aggressive mindset into this season, as far as what we want to attain, who we wanna attain it with, kind of crew set up we want to have, a kind of leadership setup we want to have... from a crew, equipment, and other tools related standpoint. So we really geared up over the off-season to set up for a big 2021. So far, we are considerably ahead of 2020, and we are looking to keep pushing towards the goals we've set. We're not quite on pace with the goals that we're after, but we're certainly doing everything in our power to adjust and adapt and work towards those. We've definitely dealt with some adversity in 2021. When you start pushing the needle and raising expectations and standards, it's normal to maybe get a little bit of resistance and kick back sometimes from a few people on the team of things that you're asking of them or from them. We gotta be mindful of that as a business as well, to always keep their wants and needs and what their long-term goals are within the organization at the forefront as we're asking for a bigger push on our end as the business. So there's been a little bit of turnover. There's been a little bit of adversity that we've had to work through. I have found myself wearing a lot of hats this year in 2021. Some that I didn't intend to based on how we ended 2020 and what we thought we were gonna look like going into 2021, but that's okay. Sometimes as a small business owner/operator, you gotta jump in wherever the company needs your most sometimes, and that's been fine. I've had to cover in the sales arena. I've had to cover in the field arena. I've had to do quite a bit of training with some new folks. Like I said, we've brought in some guys to fill some positions, and we've also promoted quite a bit within with guys we've had here over the last three or four years that are definitely taking on more responsibility and bigger roles within the company. So been a lot of hands-on for me personally, but again, that's part of it. It's always been my belief that if you want to create a good culture, a good organization, be a good leader, you've got to be a servant leader to those within the organization. We've moved some field guys over to the sales arena. We've moved guys between the paving prep side over to seal coat and vice versa. Just trying to get all the right people in the right positions to help us get to our goals for 2021. So all in all it hasn't... and again, I don't think it ever is gonna look like, you sit down over the winter and pre-plan for what the upcoming season is going to look like. You sit down, you map it all out, and it always looks good on paper. We try to hold as close as we can to those goals. We write down on paper and what the vision board of those goals looks like to get there. You're always adapting on the fly and that's... If you can do that and continue to be a servant leader to your business, then things usually work out, but it takes all hands on decks and it takes people that are willing to do whatever it takes and meet the expectations that are set within a company that does hold such a high standard.
Phil (04:00): I forgot to tell you to look at me.
Kevin (04:02): Huh?
Phil (04:02): I forgot to tell you to look at me. Sorry about that.
Kevin (04:04): It's all right.
Phil (04:04): But um...
Kevin (04:05): Is that okay? I was looking at the camera.
Phil (04:07): Yeah, that was fine. We can fix it up, but just for the rest. You can talk to me. So has there any... have you learned anything in particular about, hiring or maintaining this year that you didn't know in years past?
Kevin (04:19): Well, what we've learned in years past, especially in the last year or two, three years max, is that not necessarily hiring from experience. It hasn't always been good... Hiring for experience hasn't always been a great thing, especially in this industry and especially when you're creating a culture and an atmosphere that is very dissimilar to most within the industry. Our kind of general practice in hiring is to find the people that can align with our core values, with our 10 things that require zero talent and bring in the right kind of folks that fit into our culture and then take a very adamant position and training. It's a commitment. It's a big ask from the people that have been here for a while, especially from our foreman and from our experienced sky yard veterans that have been here for a while, to take these inexperienced guys because I certainly can't do it all by myself. I certainly don't wanna do it all myself, because those guys are out there operating the field every day, all day, certainly have different ways of doing things that I may have as an owner of a business. So it's an ask of our veteran leadership and our veteran core group of guys to bring these young guys along. And when you find those right people, the inexperienced guys that you bring into the fold, if they're right kind of people, and you usually find that out within the first week or two, it's usually pretty quick in our industry. But if you can get those guys to kind of hang through the first few weeks and they show some promise and they have a willing... and that's probably the biggest thing. If they can show a willingness to learn on a daily basis and kind of check their ego at the door and their attitude at the door, then we can teach 'em the rest. We can teach most of the... at least the basic skills within our industry and within this organization within the first handful of weeks. And after they start getting those principles, then we start building upon those building blocks towards working towards the skilled trade positions, the operator positions, and on up the chain. We wanna bring our guys on a shovel and within a year or two, maybe even a lot of times less than that, we've got guys that been here only a year or two that are running crews now. We want to get you from that shovel all the way up as quick as we can and get everyone cross-trained to where you get a guy or two out that's sick, or got a doctor's appointment, or sometimes they wanna spend with their kids or families, that we can cover down and continue the mission without missing a beat. The hiring has been good. We've had a lot of pieces that we've had to fill this year, and there has been some turnover, at least in that bottom 10% or so, which can be normal, but you just keep plugging. You just keep plugging until you get the right people that fit and carry on.
Phil (07:13): A lot of business owners, they don't even think about necessarily their core values and stuff like that until they're asked by marketing or something like that for material. How do you, even on a daily or a yearly, however it works for you, to not only stay motivated but truly remind yourself of those values and then project that on your company?
Kevin (07:39): Yeah. I think the biggest part of projecting the core values and making sure that we're all in check with those is just communication. It's if my... and I say my, but it's the vision that we've kind of all created here, but... someone's gotta be the senior-most leader or the visionary or the director of the company. I've got to constantly be reminding everyone, not just our foreman, not just our tenured people, not just our key folks, but everyone from the highest paid person out there in the field to the lowest, what our goals are, what our visions are, who we are, what we stand for, what our core values are. A big part of that is why we have those meetings every morning. It gives us 5 to 15 minutes every morning to just check-in as a group, and there aren't many mornings that we leave outta here without reading those core values that hang on our walls. If we keep the lines of communication open, if we keep the goals in front of these people, if we keep the vision in front of these people, our morals, our ethics, how we intend to operate and what we owe our customers, what we owe our community, then we're typically always moving the needle in the right direction. Even if it's got some dips along the trajectory line, it's still always moving in that positive direction. So communication's key there.
Phil (09:04): And so you've definitely grown as a business. It's no secret that when you even look at you, you can tell you're getting bigger jobs and you've definitely stepped up with the residential side of things and you've
definitely found something really positive, in many ways, for large driveway customers. When it comes to.. what advantages do you feel like ADC has over other companies that might be able to service large residential driveways?
Kevin (09:35): I think the biggest thing you're gonna get from ADC on these large residential projects... first and foremost, we're gonna give you a great customer experience and we're gonna give you a job that lasts. You get a lot of these large residential farm-type rural driveways, mostly we're most of the time we're paving over stone. It's easy for a lot of the competition to come in and not necessarily give you that thickness that you need on that. Especially on that first pave where you've got a good solid rock base underneath of it, and you wanna make sure you've got a good lift layer of asphalt there to support the traffic that's gonna be driving on it. I think another thing... that a lot of time these driveways are the main access point sometimes a mile up off the main road to their houses. So we want to get in and get done fast. I think that's another thing we bring, as far as the value perspective on these is how quickly we can get in, get them graded, get them ready to pave, and then how quickly we can pave them. Just the aesthetics, the beautification you're gonna get to your property from these large long residential driveway projects. There's a lot of folks out there that may not be as qualified or have their crews trained well enough to what it takes and it may sound simple. It may sound easy, but to pave a straight line, if you get a line set and say this driveway is gonna be 10 feet wide and to have operators and skilled tradesmen behind that paver that are gonna hold that 10 feet line through curves through radius and then especially down the straightaways to where when you're looking at that thing, it looks symmetrical. Whether it's 800 feet or if it's 10,000 feet, that thing should look 10 feet wide and straight and or beautiful through a curve all the way through the project. So we want to give you that the first time every time. We want to give you something that lasts and we want to get in and out very fast. We wanna make it painless for the customer.
Phil (11:47): When it comes to commercial properties, a lot of these smaller towns have growing businesses and industry is really starting to pick up outside of the Louisville area and surrounding counties. Same type of question but for the commercial side. What can you provide to some of these companies that may not have as many options as far as paving? What can you provide them and then what does it really do for their business and their property overall?
Kevin (12:17): I think the biggest feedback we get from people in the outlying counties in the state... you get outside of Jefferson county, maybe Fayette county to the east, Lexington Metro, is that we can't find anybody that even wants to come look at our projects and if we do, they're very hard to get ahold of or communicate with or get a good site map or a presentation proposal of what you're intending to do on my property. In a lot of small towns, these small businesses, that's their entire life and they're typically staples in those communities. So everybody in those communities knows these small businesses. They know what they stand for and what they believe in.
When they can't find contractors that align with the values they may have in their small towns, and it's a very frustrating process for them to do business with a paving contractor or roofing contractor, whatever that may be. I think being able to give customers in these rural areas of our state, smaller areas, smaller towns of our state, that customer experience that they feel like they are our most important customer, which we try to emulate with every one of our customers. Whether it's a $300 striping job or a half a million-dollar, large-scale, full-blown construction project. We want each one of these people to feel like they're the most important thing we're working on with the processes and systems, standards, and procedures that we've put in place, all the way from the time when the phone rings until that job is finished being installed. I think you're gonna get that on any and every project that we execute. That's what we wanna deliver. We wanna deliver that customer experience. Because there are contractors out there that can do good work, but it's a matter of how well they communicate. What's the experience look like? What is the least intrusive way we can go about doing this project, no matter how big or small on your property, so we're not disturbing your business? That's super important to the customer. Then we just, we execute. We bring... and I think that's almost the least important thing through all of it is the quality of the product that we install, because we should be able to install the quality product. If we say we've been in business for 60 plus years, we've got all this equipment, we've got these great trained, field guys, staff, sales people, estimators, we can get you, we ought to be able to deliver a good product. If we can do all the other things in the customer experience side first, then there's no question that we're gonna deliver a good product as well.
Phil (15:02): Fantastic.
Kevin (15:04): Fantastic!
Phil (15:04): Some people might be slightly discouraged or hesitant about hiring a company from Louisville. Can you explain a little bit about how it's not only okay, but you really enjoy these jobs that are a little bit further out and how you can continue to be their partner?
Kevin (15:25): Yeah, I do and I know there is a perception of Louisville out in the state of Kentucky. We're a very small state and especially by population. You get outside the Louisville and Lexington area, there may be certain stigmas about the city folk or whatever that may be. I am proud to say I am a small town Woodford County kind of raised guy here in Kentucky, which is a very small town and county. I like to think that our values and ethics and morals are an extension of that into this company that we've established and operate here in Louisville. Now we choose to operate here in Louisville, because this is where this company was founded in 1959. It's where we've got our relationships with our suppliers, producers, and manufacturers of the equipment and products that we use.
We certainly want to be an arm to anyone outside in the state, anywhere out in the state of Kentucky. And like I was saying earlier, we want to give every customer, no matter what size of project, what kind of budget, where you live, whatever, that same experience that you're gonna get from a Louisville customer that you're gonna get if we're two hours out into the rural parts of the state. I enjoy working out in those areas because that's kind of the setting and surroundings that I was brought up in my entire childhood. There's nothing better for me than to get outside of the Metro Louisville area and get onto some of these back roads and out into the woods and the hills and the rolling fields, horse pastures, whatever it may be, out in our beautiful state and have an opportunity to go work in those settings. It's pretty awesome. I couldn't think of a better place know conduct business.
Phil (17:17): Beautiful. So you talked a little bit about pride earlier. What are some of the ways the customer might see pride in action with ADC over maybe a typical paving contractor?
Kevin (17:28): Man, I think it's just our attention to detail. Like I've said, a lot of people can go out and lay blacktop. It's just at the end of the day, it's just rock tar and sand. It can look a bunch of different ways depending on who you've got to install that. I think it's very obvious from the time they call into our office. I think they see pride through our whole process from the director of first impressions who answers the phone here at our office, to our estimators that have a certain standard they're held to and what kind of questions to ask and how to really listen and more and speak less when they're meeting with our customers and really understanding the values that they're expecting from their contractor.
Then when our crew gets out there and you see we take a great deal of pride in our fleet, in our trucks, in our equipment. When we show up, we want there to be no shadow of a doubt that you've hired the right folks. I think there's so much to say about people that take a great amount of pride in their stuff, in their equipment, in their people, the way they present when they show up on a job site. Then if they're watching us do our thing, there's no question in my mind that they're saying these guys really care about my property. They care about my property and they really are passionate about what they do. It's obvious if you watch for 10 minutes, you're like, holy cow, these guys are working together. They're not even hardly having to communicate. Things are just running like a top. We have customers all the time that either call in, or they'll leave a review, or I'll be on a job site and they'll come talk to me. They'll talk about one of our guys or a couple of 'em like I could really tell he's passionate about what he does, or that he cared about how this looked, or our foreman will go be very transparent. Let's say you've got a garage tie-in, or a sidewalk tie-in, or something. They wanna make sure it's exactly how the customer wants it to look, how they want the water to flow. Just taking that extra few minutes to be very transparent of what the options are and what could happen if we do it this way. Here's an option if we can do it this way, what best serves you Mr. or Mrs. Customer. Then we execute on that. So, a great amount of attention to detail that I think is very evident when we're out working for folks.
So when someone reaches out to ADC and the estimator comes on-site, what might they experience that's maybe a little bit different than the traditional someone in paving coming out and giving a bid, whether it be the first impression all the way through what they receive?
Kevin (20:25): I think it's the whole experience. As I said, I think it's from when we show up to what we show up in... I know that some of these things are material things like the trucks we drive, the way we dress, our appearance, but I think right away that should... I try to put myself in the customer's shoes. If I'm going out shopping if I'm going to buy something. What's the store look like that I'm going into? How am I greeted? How am I treated? Is their sales associate listening to me or are they trying to sell me something? What's that conversation look like? Is it pushy? Is it? Or am I being heard? That's huge. I think just that level of professionalism and compassion and listening and understanding that they get from our sales folks... This is one of my big things. If you're out there in front of our customers, if we are gonna say we are the best in the business and we are your partner in this pavement project, then it's our duty to educate these customers above and beyond. They don't even know what questions to ask. They may have learned and found some things on Google that they wanna ask, but it's our job to go above and beyond on the education piece and find the trouble points in their projects that they're not even thinking about. Things that we're like, Hey, we wanna look at this. We may need to adjust something here. This is probably gonna need to be done differently. Where I think a lot of contractors go out, they measure, they meet with the customer, they shake hands. They're like, okay, we'll get you an estimate. They go out and measure. They may send them a site map and maybe a drawing and say we're gonna lay 2 inches compacted to an inch and a half of your driveway. This is where you sign. Without giving them any kind of fundamental education of the products we use, the experience they're going to encounter while doing business with us, what the project's gonna look like, how many days, anything like that. I just think the level of education and communication that we give on the front end is gonna exceed anyone else they're going to attempt to do business with. Then when they get our proposals, everything's digital, everything's laid out on a site map, an overview, and it's all color-coded. The descriptions are very thorough. We've got correlating pictures to those site maps that are really explaining what's going on in certain areas of the project. They've got an opportunity to see that in person with us on a tablet, as we're going through it with them, or via email where we can... If we don't have an opportunity to meet with that customer, they can be looking at it on their end. We can be looking at our end, talking through it, or having a second site visit. Whatever it may take to make them feel confident in our company and then just the ease of transaction. A lot of companies are still operating on pen and paper kind of transaction. We've gone digital on all that. You literally hitting a green button and you're signing a contract and doing business with us. Just trying to minimize the unnecessary steps of having to do business. Kind of if you take the Amazon approach, we're trying to take kind of an... I don't necessarily know how I feel about Amazon's business model as a whole, or their core values if you will, but the ease of transaction, the process of doing business. Say I want this product and I want it on my door next in 2 days. We wanna make that almost as seamless as that if you're buying a driveway or a parking lot. We're kind of backing into what that should look like for the customer, and we're doing everything we can to put those pieces in place.
Phil (24:14): Can you explain a little bit about all that you're a full-service paving and pavement maintenance company? Whether it be, if someone just simply wants gravel, all the way through seal coating. Can you explain a little bit about each of the services you offer and how you choose to really take care of the customer during that process?
Kevin (24:36): Yeah. That's another thing I think goes hand in hand with meeting the customer where they are at. Whether it be a residential project or a commercial project, saying that we are a full-service paving and pavement maintenance contractor means like you said, we can go from just installing some stone to get you some better grade and drainage, or even just a surface to drive on, whether that be short term or long term, all the way through patching crack ceiling, seal coating, overlay resurface kind of paving, full depth, ripping out parking lots or driveways and checking the stone base and correcting them and then paving. I think when we say we're full service, we're full service. We can do anything and everything that the customer may want. Then we can also educate on the when, whys, and hows of when to do these certain practices or techniques on their properties as far as the pavement life cycle may go. That's another thing we want to bring to the tables is that education and helping customers understand the life cycle and/ or return on investment when you get into the pavement asset of their property. We wanna definitely bring that education piece... whatever kind of scope we're looking at for these customers.
Phil (26:07): What can, if someone, whether they, well, I guess both situations other, would they submit a form online, or if they call, what can they expect? When they first reach out to ADC?
Kevin (26:17): When a customer first reaches out to us, if they call and get us on the phone, which they should during normal operating hours, which is 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM... We'll be setting an appointment with that person immediately. Most of the time we're out to their job site meeting with them, or if they're unavailable, or do not wish to meet, or whatever that may look like, we're at least out there within a 48 hour period; sooner if possible. Then if it's a residential customer, we like to give those proposals, do the site evaluations, and get those proposals to you on-site. If for some reason we're not able to do that, we're definitely gonna have that to you with a 24 hour period and most commercial stuff, even large scale scope commercial projects, I'm talking quarter-million up to million-dollar projects. The way we have our standards and procedures in place now with the technology we use, there's no reason we're not getting them their proposals within a 48 to 72 hour period. So it's quick... You call because you have a need. You want something. Going back to Amazon thing, say I need some batteries. You want to have your batteries the next day or two. You got something that's beeping in your house telling you need a battery. So we want to get you. We want do your site evaluation as thoroughly and efficiently as we possibly can, and then get you some options to look at quick. We wanna meet you where you're at, and we wanna meet your level of urgency, and get on board and get this project going ASAP.
Phil (27:54): So I just wanna transition a little bit and just kind of ask a question or two about what you see actually happening in the paving industry this year. What you've kind of noticed online, is there anything the paving industry that's kind of caught you as surprising, or different, or just kind of caught your eye about the paving industry in 2021?
Kevin (28:13): I don't know. Nothing really that stands out other than the national paint shortage. That's definitely been a challenge. Because any of these commercial projects, whether we're seal coating or paving, there's typically paint that follows right behind, and with the paint shortage that we're all feeling nationwide that's definitely been a challenge. I think what we're starting to see in our industry is a separation, and we hope our customers are paying attention. It's pretty easy for them to do if they're present online, if they're checking out Google and Facebook, Instagram, places where people shop now, places where people can get information, that there is a separation. Starting to become a separation of these next generation of contractors that are really taking the customer experience into mind and delivering all that. Not just saying they're gonna do it, but they're actually delivering on it. I think the paving industry is one that's been very much the same for a very, very long time. One thing I would say to customers, general public all in the same, it's like just make sure you're doing your due diligence and your homework when you're hiring a contractor, and you're not just looking at the number. Most times, if it is the number that... Some people are price shoppers. There's typically always something we can do, whether it be an adjustment in scope or it could be some negotiation. There's more than one way to kind of skin a cat. Like I said, we do offer a full line of service, being a full-service payment maintenance contractor. There's other options out there and there's definitely more than one way to either buy more time or continue a life cycle for some pavement that you may have. Some things like that.
Phil (30:11): Then I just wanted to talk a little bit about equipment. You definitely have a feel that you like to stay very personable and kind of have a small company feel, but you also are really starting to get the equipment to service big jobs. Can you kind of talk to how you're... from an equipment standpoint, how you are actually able to handle large scope jobs?
Kevin (30:33): Yeah... ever since we've my wife and I have owned this company, we have made a huge promise to ourselves, to our people, to our organization, that we are going to reinvest vigorously into our company. And I think that's pretty evident with the equipment trucks, some of the benefits, and pay that we're able to offer our employees. Even as far as reinvesting back and to this company and training, whatever that may look like. So yes, in the process of all that, we have acquired all the equipment necessary and
what we don't have, we can always subcontract out typically. And for right now, that's typically just a milling crew, milling and cleanup crew. When we get into this larger-scale kind of the milling projects, and we have great subs in that arena. So it doesn't really make sense for us to quite get into that yet. But as far as paving from a large scale paving and or pavement maintenance standpoint, we've got everything and most things we have two of. So if we break down or something happens, we've got another one we can ship out to the job site, or we'll bring along with us to keep those projects going as seamlessly as possible. The beautiful thing about that is that our residential customers benefit from that as well. We've invested in all this commercial-grade equipment that's capable of handling large scale... Think about your Lowes, your Home Depot, your Walmart, your Target size construction paving projects. We're bringing the stuff we use to do that, which lays an awesome parking lot, we're bringing that to your house to pave your driveway with. So, it's benefiting everyone. We're bringing the best of what we got to basically every job site.
Phil (32:25): Really the only other thing I can think of is if someone's looking to get ahold of ADC for some questions, what's the best way to get ahold of ADC?
Kevin (32:34): Best? The best way, probably the quickest way is to call us. It's still 502-21... That's my cell phone. <laugh> That's the one I always give out. Can we start that all over?
Phil (32:47): Yeah. You don't mind. What's the best way for people to get ahold of you if they're wanting to contact ADC?
Kevin (32:52): So the best way to probably get ahold of us if you're looking to get something set up immediately is to call us. We've got at least two people here answering the phone all day long and that's 502-964-1415. That's gonna get you an appointment set up immediately. By the time you get off the phone, which is probably less than a 3 to 5 minute deal, you're gonna have an appointment, you're gonna know who your estimator is, and you're gonna know when and where we're coming. You can also find us online at www.adcpaving.com. There you can read all about us. We've got blogs there if you're interested in reading some of that kind of stuff. We've also got forms that you can submit to get a request for a proposal or an estimate. We typically answer those within just a handful of hours, if not within an hour or less. So we'll be reaching out to you to set up an appointment. Then we're also out there on all the social media platforms as well. Definitely check us on our Google reviews. Those are very strong, especially within our local community here. Then Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, all of those are @ ADC paving.
Phil (34:02): Excellent. Thanks for your time Kevin.
You got it.