Paving the Way
It can be easy to take for granted some, if not most, of the luxuries with which we have surrounded ourselves. While it is easiest to look back two decades and see how computers have changed our lives, we do not often look at the environments we inhabit…
There was a time when roads paved with asphalt were uncommon but just starting to take off as a piece of bona fide infrastructure. It was then, in northeast Ohio, in 1939, that AJ Ronyak saw that he could get in on the ground floor of a brand new, up-and-coming industry. Starting as AJ Ronyak, Inc., AJ laid the groundwork for a business that is now celebrating eighty years and is poised to see many more.
“My grandfather AJ started the business in 1939. He passed in 1964, at which time, his three sons Dennis, William, and James took over the paving business. Dennis passed in 1980, while William and James retired in 1994,” explained Ronyak Paving Chief Executive Officer David Ronyak.
The business was incorporated in 1939, but it was in 1994 that David and two partners decided to buy the company from his father James and Uncle William, and by 2006, David was the owner of Ronyak Paving and the plant that produces the asphalt necessary to the business. For eighty years, the company has operated successfully and been passed down through generations to the present where David is joined by his sons Jerrod and Jason Ronyak, the latter of whom works as the Chief Operations Officer. Also part of the family force is David’s brother Scott, who has been in the business most of his life, and Scott’s son Tommy, who runs a mill crew for Ronyak Paving.
“Jason, Jerrod, and Tommy are the fourth generation in the business. It’s always been a family business; we treat all of our employees like family. We take care of them, and they take care of us,” said David.
Despite the outward appearance that the asphalt business has remained more or less the same since the days of AJ Ronyak, there has always been a drive at the company to change, innovate and upgrade. This evolution has come in the form of new technology and techniques for laying asphalt or finding ways to be more environmentally friendly in an increasingly eco-conscious world.
As part of this, the company has incorporated computers into the business. For years, everything was done on pen and paper, from timesheets to quotes and bidding, which was extremely time-consuming. The team now has laptops and iPads for its employees in every truck and tracks all aspects of a job as they happen.
“Big picture, what technology has really done for us is increase efficiency. Everything ties together from the bidding process to time and material recorded from the field to the closeout of the project documents. We’re able to get real-time information after production and see what we’re doing right, what we’re doing wrong, and make quick adjustments accordingly, whereas before, you had to wait until the end of the year or at the very least the end of a project to see how you were doing,” said Jason Ronyak.
“One major struggle we have is many of our larger projects have strict requirements for both smoothness and density testing. One or the other can more easily be achieved, but there is a fine line to achieving both. We are constantly trying new techniques to meet these requirements. It is also another example of why having real-time information on a project can allow us to analyze and adjust for the following day’s production, saving the company thousands of dollars.”
At one time, the company would send out subcontractors to do concrete work when it was necessary; however, its scope of work evolved such that it made sense to begin performing concrete work in house rather than outsourcing. So, six years ago, he bought into a concrete company known as CATTS Construction. At the time, this company was doing well at $1.5 million a year in sales. Since taking on this partnership, CATTS Construction stands to have sales of about $25 million in 2019. Regardless, there is no denying the success and longevity of the company in the face of serious competition.
If you live in or pass through northeast Ohio, then there is a good chance you have come across the great work laid down by Ronyak Paving. Just recently, the company completed a $2.6 million job in Columbus, Ohio. Not willing to shy away from honest work, the crew took on the two-hour drive to a postal distribution center. There, the ground had to be excavated and properly milled before the company could lay down a fresh new asphalt parking lot. Last year, it also completed $12 million in projects across the state for the Ohio Department of Transportation.
Despite the competitive nature of the construction industry, Ronyak Paving has been prosperous. In the last five years, the company has grown by 130 percent and does about $45 million in business annually. This speaks volumes to the care and effort put into the work at hand and its ability to persevere through the last eighty years which have seen several economic ups and downs.
In the coming months, the company looks to bring quality work to markets outside of its usual stomping grounds. It plans a controlled growth, in line with the company’s philosophy of staying where jobs are profitable, and the only risks are necessary ones.
David Ronyak is determined that this stays a family business, not just because relatives run it but because the company respects its employees and welcomes them into the family. From the corporate side to those who are out in the field, everyone at Ronyak Paving has a voice, and David believes everyone should feel comfortable at work. If the last eighty years are any indication, it should be no surprise in another eighty years to see Ronyak Paving continuing to deliver the same levels of quality and experiencing the same levels of success.
“Our number one priority is to exceed our customers’ expectations. We’ve got great people who care about the work they’re doing. We are proud to stand behind our work and the outstanding employees who make it happen,” said David.