Connected through a Shared Vision

Palmer Paving

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Palmer Paving Corporation takes its role as an industry leader very seriously. Incorporating core values, organizational culture and a sense of trust into every project has defined the Palmer Paving name for sixty-two years.
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Ask any successful business what its secret to longevity is, and the number one response will be having a vision, not only for the company itself but for its leadership.

When Charles M. Callahan moved to Palmer, Massachusetts from Boston, in 1955 from Boston, he brought with him a vision to establish of one of the area’s most salient and desirable hot mix asphalt and heavy civil construction firms. With perseverance, quality products and services and a customer-centric approach to doing business, it was not long before Charlie’s client list grew. Maintaining this mindset with the next generation lends itself to continued growth and prosperity today.

This civil construction company addresses ever-changing demands in infrastructure at the federal, municipal, commercial and private levels throughout central and western Massachusetts and northern Connecticut. The company is headquartered in Palmer, with other plants in Springfield, Easthampton and Barre, all in Massachusetts. It delivers quality hot mix asphalt, gravel, stone, sand and other aggregates.

Palmer Paving’s hundred and fifty plus employees are actively engaged in highway and road construction, excavation and site work and other infrastructure related needs of the communities it serves. These communities are an important part of Palmer Paving’s vision, from an economic sustainability perspective.

The company is seen as an industry leader with specialty work on airports, parks, athletic fields and academic institutions.

Being a member of associations like the National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA); the American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA); and the Massachusetts Asphalt and Aggregate Producers Association (MAAPA), has been crucial for Palmer Paving.

“Industry associations allow companies to combine efforts to achieve common goals by providing them with much-needed support and knowledge related to legislative actions and activity as well as regulatory insight that impacts business operations and funding,” company President Janet Callahan, who is the daughter of Charles Callahan, explains. “We feel it’s important to secure a seat at the table when strategizing or working on issues that affect our business. Industry trade groups remain our partners and are an important part of our business.”

Palmer Paving has acquired operations that were an excellent fit and aligned with its company strategic expansion goals. These acquisitions include Bayer-Mingola- Springfield plant in 1974; Labrie Asphalt- Easthampton in 2001; and Aggregate Industries – Barre Facility in 2007. These acquisitions, in turn, provided growth and a reinforcement of sustainability initiatives, now, and into the future.

“Natural resource management, capital and asset procurement all tie into how our firm can leverage opportunities and provide us with competitive advantage,” says Janet.

Successful companies acknowledge that aside from the common vision, securing a talented and skilled workforce is essential to determine future success.

PPC’s workforce is composed of talented employees who are capable of addressing the constantly challenging and shifting business landscape.

The company’s requires, “precision, planning and strong communication within our team, with our customers and owners and other contractors on the project,” adds Janet.

Open communication at all times with professional engineers, developers, and architects is part of Palmer Paving’s company culture. It prides itself on engaging with trust and respect. “We work hard every day to make sure that the relationships with our customers are a positive experience … We understand that we are a service company as well as a manufacturer. Yes, our product has to be superior and meets stringent specifications … Going above and beyond has always been a driving force for us and how we have built such strong and longstanding business relationships,” she explains.

“We are a union contractor and therefore are fortunate that there are state- and nationally-recognized apprenticeship training programs established within the union. In-house training is a perpetual and ongoing process for us.” The company administration avidly embraces the newest technologies in plants and construction so that it operates “in an optimal manner.”

As for safety considerations and environmental stewardship, those too are a crucial part of Palmer Paving’s values. “If you think about it, our employees are our most valuable asset, and their safety is our greatest responsibility. We must make sure that our employees get home at the end of the day to their families.” All those employed at the company have a responsibility to ensure that this is always the case.

“Being aware, working smart and eliminating all hazards are practices that are integrated into every project, every day,” explains Janet. The company invests time and energy in daily job inspections, toolbox talks and safety actions to help, “ensure that the chance of injuries and incidents are reduced or removed.”

The company acknowledges its responsibility as environmental stewards and is closely aligned with regulatory agencies such as the Occupational Health and Safety Association (OSHA); the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Department of Labor. “We all work together to make sure every person on the job as well as the general public is safe.”

As part of Palmer Paving’s commitment to greener communities and a healthier planet, its manufacturing facilities have been utilizing recycled asphalt pavement since the 1970s and employing the latest in warm mix asphalt to provide enduring and sustainable roadways.

“One of the keys to our longevity has been our ability to learn, innovate [and] adapt,” continues Janet. “We must be agile for our customers. In looking at innovation and new technology, it is integrated if it elevates our business. By nature, we are entrepreneurs, and we are always looking for ways to improve and achieve competitive advantages.”

The FAST Act (Fixing America’s Surface Transportation) was signed into law in 2015 by President Obama and will affect Palmer Paving moving forward, Janet relates. “The FAST Act authorizes highway and transit capital program funding through fiscal year 2020, which allows states to use contract authority to plan and enter into agreements with the construction sector to make infrastructure improvements.”

Although a significant move forward, funding for fixing U.S. infrastructure still requires approval as to the funds allocated on a yearly basis. Such infrastructure investment must, “become a priority in this country as it is tied so closely to everyone’s economic growth and prosperity. Without a strong infrastructure, safe roadways and thoroughfares, commerce becomes more expensive, trickling down to consumers,” she adds. “Easy and unencumbered travel to and from our jobs, the stores, [and] to our neighbors is what each and every citizen wants and deserves.”

As a second-generation company, “family holds a different meaning for us,” Janet says. Palmer Paving’s owners and family members have maintained a mutual respect for each other being very clear about their roles and responsibilities. “But, family extends beyond ownership. Given our longstanding presence in the community, we have family members and generations of families that have worked at Palmer Paving Corporation. We are a local business that works with other local businesses that are all in the family businesses.”

Some have worked with the company for more than forty years which is, “a testament to our organization, our business and its value in the community … At the end of the day, our business revolves around people—people on the job, our customers and the communities in which we work.”

As for Palmer Paving’s next generation, Janet affirms that “succession and leadership take time.” The company believes that people will remain its strength and encourages the next generation of leadership by creating a collaborative, supportive working environment.

“We bring our people together for a common cause, stay focused on our need to provide excellence in every aspect of our business, all the while, developing their talents as a team.”

For Palmer Paving Corporation, its vision has remained steadfast since its inception—to continue to be an industry leader in the communities it serves, today and tomorrow.

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 18, 2019, 10:11 PM EST

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