Experience Makes All the Difference

Carroll & Carroll

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Carroll & Carroll, Inc., of Savannah, Georgia specializes in asphalt sales, construction and grading. The company has seen steady growth, with no signs of slowing down…
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Not every asphalt company possesses its own plant, but Carroll & Carroll can claim this despite being the smallest company of its kind. With one location and forty staff members, the company has been able to keep up with the larger companies, and we spoke with Vice President Jason Holley to find out how.

Arland Carroll started the company in 1985, with a plant in Savannah, Georgia and operated there for many years before opening up a plant in Macon, Georgia. Arland Carroll eventually closed the Macon plant and placed his focus back on the Savannah market. Despite retirement three years ago, Arland remains co-owner and shareholder and is still being updated on the day-to-day operations of his business. In 2014 he was honored with the Lifetime Achievement award presented by the Georgia Highway Contractors Association.

“He may have retired, but it is in his blood, so we keep him abreast of what jobs are going on and how the company is doing as a whole,” says Jason.

Currently, Carroll & Carroll, Inc. has three owners: Jason Holley, Arland Carroll, and Arland’s daughter, Sheri Carroll Goros, who is the company’s acting president. Sheri has always been very active in the company, having grown up within it, working both at the plant and out in the field and helping to run larger projects when extra management was needed. Sheri has a thorough understanding of the company and its work, from driving a roller to operating the plant. In Jason’s opinion, this makes for a better manager.

Jason’s history with the company began with his father. Before Arland opened his company, he worked for APAC of Augusta and hired Jason’s father. When Arland left to begin Carroll & Carroll, Inc., Jason’s father eventually took over Arland’s role at APAC.

“When I was in college, Sheri gave me a call and offered me the position of field superintendent. At the time I had not yet finished school, but it was laid out that the position would not be available for long, so I dropped what I was doing, packed up and moved to Savannah. That was in September of 2009,” says Jason. In the past seven years, the three owners have worked together and grown as a team.

Carroll & Carroll’s primary focus is asphalt sales and installation. Contractors need an asphalt plant that can be depended on for good customer service and pricing to keep them competitive.

“A lot of people think that having an asphalt plant equates to controlling the market. This is simply not true, as the plant depends on other contractors to get work and purchase materials from them just as much as we depend on ourselves to get work before the crews put it down,” says Jason. However, having the plant does help Carroll & Carroll, Inc. to be vertically integrated.

It is the smallest asphalt company in Savannah with an asphalt plant. There are two other companies that have over 150 employees each, whereas Carroll & Carroll, Inc. only uses thirty-five to forty people at any given time. There are a host of reasons that the company can stay competitive despite the larger entities working in the area.

Numerous Carroll & Carroll, Inc. customers feel at home when they buy because they appreciate being greeted with a smile and treated as a priority. “If I have a customer buying asphalt and his trucks are lined up near mine, I will put his trucks in front. We can’t make it without these guys,” says Jason.

To compete, Carroll & Carroll needs more than good manners and pleasant greetings, however. Low overhead costs are a reality due to the low amount of employees, so competitive pricing keeps contractors in the black. Being a family-owned company also helps with that personal touch that keeps people happy. Instead of a client coming in to deal with a third or fourth person in charge, they can deal directly with the owners.

“If they have a problem, I can be called directly on my cell phone. Ninety percent of the customers that purchase asphalt from us will inevitably go through myself or Sheri. They will not call into an automated system, directing them to an asphalt plant. Someone will answer the phone. In today’s market that just doesn’t happen as much anymore,” says Jason.

There are no middlemen, so things are accomplished quickly. If a customer has a question, concern, special job, or request, Carroll & Carroll is ready for it and can begin without delay. The quote will be provided and the asphalt mix distributed promptly. Leaping over hurdles for a customer is a common practice. Customers are treated fairly and with respect which, in turn, brings in a lot of repeat business and referrals.

One reason for success at Carroll & Carroll is its determination to take on work of any size. It will compete for a 500-ton job, or a 50,000-ton job.

Being a small company can be perilous, especially when dealing with market changes. In 2009 to 2012, all markets saw a drastic decline of available work.

“The main way that we were able to survive was in making a commitment to our employees. We promised them a paycheck every week, no matter what the situation. We continually bid on work to stay open and keep our employees happy. We knew that at some point, the economy would change, and we would be able to make that adjustment for the increase in revenue and margins,” says Jason.

In this industry, it is believed that nearly all accidents can be prevented. Jason recognizes the great people who work for Carroll & Carroll and how important it is to keep them safe. The current safety program came about after a suggestion from an employee at a weekly meeting. This man had worked for another company that had a safety incentive program in place, and after some discussion, feedback was gathered from other employees and a program implemented. At the beginning of the year, the company puts aside a sum of money that is roughly a thousand dollar bonus per employee.

“Twice a year, we have a big safety meeting, and we track any incidents, accidents, lost time and any damage to personal property or company property. Each one of those items has a deduction amount on it. Every employee ends up taking home at the end of the year an average of over $800.00. Minor issues account for the reduction,” says Jason.

The employees pay attention and look after each other to avoid any accidents. Much positive feedback has been given for this endeavor, and it is working well.

Carroll & Carroll is not looking to add any new plants since there is still an opportunity for growth within the existing plant. It can increase the number of employees while continuing to operate from the same facility which is capable of producing up to 400,000 tons per year.

“The biggest concern is in retaining the employees we have and keep adding to that. This is very hard to accomplish. We offer competitive pay, and if you are going to be in this industry, that is crucial because other plants are always looking for good workers,” says Jason. Steady growth and increased margins are the goals.

Jason says that the company treats the interview process as if it is looking for management positions. Employees with an existing knowledge of the skills needed are few and far between as that generation is retiring. Many new hires come from inside referrals, but the turnover rate in this industry is huge, and that is a problem for every plant in the area.

Each year the Georgia Department of Transportation ranks each asphalt plant for Quality Control and releases this plant rating as public information. Of the fifty-one asphalt plants rated in the state, Carroll & Carroll ranked third with a rating of 92.43. A few years ago, the company even achieved the top position.

“It should be noted that one of the reasons for this success can be attributed to our Plant Manager Vincent Morris, our Plant Foreman John Jarrel, and Plant Superintendent Reuben Manriquez. They deserve a lot of the credit,” says Jason.

Building the Next Generation

As thousands of experienced workers retire across North America every day, it is small wonder many industries are concerned about the future. It has been a decade since the oldest members of the baby boom generation started leaving their jobs, removing from the workplace decades of experience and skills that are tough to replace. The situation is so dire that, when younger workers are not available or knowledgeable enough to take over, retired staffers are often called back to work on a part-time basis.

November 14, 2019, 11:01 AM EST