Family Firm Constructs a Bright Future for Itself
“P&S Paving Inc. is a heavy highway contractor. We produce our own asphalt and concrete base and recently added four utility crews to perform underground utility work in house. We’ll do anything from I-95 to a Wal-Mart parking lot. Over the years we have taken a lot of pride in performing all aspects of work in house. This allows us to control the pace of work as well as the quality of work,” states P&S Paving, Inc. Co-Founder and President Tim Phillips.
When twin brothers Tim and Todd Phillips founded P&S Paving, Inc. in Daytona Beach, Florida in 1993, the firm’s assets and personnel were rather minimal, to put it mildly.
“We started with $5,000, one rented ‘dozer, and one employee. Then, we landed our first project, and we were off and running. We never looked back in the rear-view mirror. Those early days were tough though,” says Phillips. That first project involved building a soccer field at a university.
P&S Paving remains a family firm today but has grown significantly. Tim and Todd remain equal owners of the company. Todd runs the field operations while Tim handles office operations. This kind of brotherly balance was evident right from the start. Todd studied construction at the University of North Florida while Tim studied business administration at the University of Central Florida – a good mix for the leaders of a fledgling construction company.
A quarter-century after its rather inauspicious beginnings, the company is a leader in asphalt paving and production and provides a host of other services as well.
Asphalt produced at the firm’s hot mix facility is used for either in-house work or sold to other companies. Recycled asphalt pavement (RAP) and fill material are also for sale. “We’re on our third asphalt plant. Our first asphalt plant opened in [the late 1990s]. Each of the first two plants produced over 3 million tons before the plants were retired.”
The company can produce and install roughly 3,500 tons of asphalt daily. Three crews perform asphalt paving, day and night. These crews “call in and order their asphalt for the next day. That asphalt is then stored in silos. We have the ability to store 1,200 tons of asphalt in the four silos, which enhances the efficiency of the asphalt crews,” he adds.
Other services rendered include site preparation, excavation, grading, milling and resurfacing, and concrete crushing. Within the site preparation category, the company can do demolition, clearing, earthwork services, surveying, installing underground utilities, site grading, sidewalks, pavements, fencing, curbs, and landscaping. The company’s underground utility work involves storm drains, sanitary sewers, water, and reclaim distribution.
It has numerous crews handling excavation and grading duties. Such work is performed in subdivisions, commercial worksites, and on highways. The company always takes care to ensure sites are clean, organized, and free of any safety hazards.
Milling and resurfacing work centers on asphalt removal and repair. Without proper maintenance, asphalt can deteriorate, resulting in holes, cracks, and a weakened base layer. For motorists, the results are unsafe or unpleasant driving conditions. When asphalt has reached the end of its useful life, P&S can remove it and resurface the area with new asphalt. The company carefully follows guidelines from the Florida Department of Transportation and other state agencies and avoids taking a one-size-fits-all approach. Given that road conditions vary widely, each milling and resurfacing job is customized to meet the needs at hand.
For all the company’s success, management still retains a grassroots focus, in which each potential job is weighed on its own merits. This is a company that takes an avowedly non-elitist approach when it comes to choosing clients.
“A typical project is from $10,000 all the way up to $70 million. In our office, we don’t have anything that’s too small. We remember our roots, and we make sure we still service those small customers because that same customer might have a $10,000 job and next year might have a $10 million job. We always strive to meet the customers’ expectations,” states Phillips.
Most of P&S’s work involves parking lots, highways, and occasional work at the local speedway. The company’s asphalt plant and home office is only five minutes away from the Daytona International Speedway. The firm also takes on assignments from other private customers. At present, the company’s main client is the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), for which it primarily does heavy highway work.
P&S just added a 20,000-square-foot office building at its Daytona Beach facilities last November, which includes a state of the art training and lecture room.
Phillips says there’s no real secret to the firm’s success, beyond good work ethics and business integrity. “Tons of hard work and honesty have gotten us where we are. We do one hundred and fifty projects a year, and we can shake hands with all of those owners at the end of the day. We make it, so it’s positive for both [our company and the owners]. It’s give and take along the way,” says Phillips.
The P&S team is near completion on the Interstate 95 project. The I-95 work involved roadway construction to widen the interstate between Daytona and New Smyrna Beach and reconstruct interchanges at US 92 and I-4.
State road work undertaken by the company includes milling and resurfacing westbound and eastbound travel and turn lanes on SR 600 and SR 472 T5560, from US 17 to North Alabama Street. The company also did extensive milling and resurfacing, as well as sidewalk construction on SR5 US1 South Street to Magnolia. This work was performed on both the east and west sides of the roadway. It also worked on drainage improvements on US1.
Phillips cites the One Daytona project – a huge development, involving retail and dining space, a hotel, theater, and other entertainment venues spread out over 180 acres across from the Daytona Speedway track – as “a significant project for us.” P&S did extensive asphalt and concrete work for the One Daytona assignment. “We’re just completing this project. It’s a beautiful project,” says Phillips.
While proud of all the work they have done, the team is equally pleased by their ability to keep employees safe. “We think we have one of the best safety programs in the industry. Our worker’s compensation MOD is one of the best in the industry. Last year, we did not have a workers comp incident for the entire year. That’s something we’re very proud of here,” states Phillips. The firm’s MOD rate “has been as low as .64,” he adds.
It is involved in local charities and industry organizations, such as the National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA), FTBA and FACA.
NAPA, in turn, has recognized the quality work the firm does. P&S Paving has been awarded NAPA’s Diamond Achievement Award for over ten years in a row. The award is for asphalt facilities that meet exacting NAPA standards, explains Phillips.
It has also earned other honors. The Asphalt Contractors Association of Florida recently selected the company for the Excellence in Pavement 2018 A.P. Bolton Award, District 2 Winner, for work done on State Road 19, from Marion County Line to Barge Canal Bridge.
“We’ve received a handful of industry awards here as of late,” notes Phillips, proudly. Such awards are a reflection of how far P&S has traveled from its hardscrabble origins.
P&S also tries to impart a sense of the company’s mission to new hires. The firm has four factors that it emphasizes: safety, satisfaction, pride, and personal development.
It is devoted to employee recognition. Being family-owned has also helped the company succeed, according to Phillips. In addition to the co-founders, several other employees have other family members currently working at the firm.
“We have a couple sons and daughters that are working in the company. We all kind of look out for each other,” notes Phillips. “We’re one of the very few mom and pops left in this business. Most of the businesses our size are publicly traded. We’re still one of the few privately-held asphalt producers that are out there, among the larger asphalt companies.”
He admits “it’s tempting from time to time” to consider changing the ownership model and becoming publicly traded. “We’ve certainly give that some thought.” For now, however, the plan is to keep this a family-owned company.
Given the family ties at the center of the company, it is no surprise P&S appreciates loyalty as well as excellent service and products from suppliers with which it works. “We have been with some of our suppliers since the day we started. We think we have extremely loyal relationships with all of our suppliers and vendors,” states Phillips.
P&S does not do a huge amount of self-promotion. “In my world, we have to be the low bidder every single day. Therefore, we don’t run like a normal company would, with sales and marketing. We just know we have to be the low-bidder at the table,” explains Phillips. “We’re a little different in that aspect in that we don’t do a lot of marketing.”
When asked what the biggest challenge for P&S is at present, Phillips says labor without hesitation. “You probably hear that from everyone,” he adds. A low unemployment rate in Florida is great for the economy but makes it tough to find new hires. The company wants skilled workers and has engaged recruitment firms to help solicit.
P&S is taking an equally proactive stance on another major labor issue involving demographics. Many companies are dealing with an age crunch: the workforce is getting older, and not enough young people are entering the skilled trades sector to take their place.
“We did something unique. We have had a couple of job fairs at local high schools. We are targeting the young men and women that are not going to college, trying to lure them into our industry. We’ve had a little bit of success. We think there’s an untouched market there. We can teach these individuals a trade that they [can use to] succeed in life. It’s a very rewarding industry to work in.”
The company likes new hires with “a good work ethic. We can teach them anything if they are willing to learn.”
Phillips is not planning on introducing any new services or products at the moment. “We’re running at one hundred percent capacity here. I guess you could say we’re blessed by all the work we have in our area. Every day we try to turn out the best quality work we can,” he states.
For the next few years, Phillips has his eye on growth and enhancing working conditions. “We just want to keep creating a nice work environment for our employees. We might grow another ten or fifteen or twenty percent, but we’re not going to force that. If the market allows it, we’re going to do it. Our goal is to create a work environment where it’s highly sought-after to work for P&S Paving.”