Out-Of-The-Box Thinking for Concrete And Asphalt Needs
Metro Pavers, Inc.
Metro Pavers was founded in 1975 and will soon be celebrating its forty-fifth anniversary of performing small and medium-sized asphalt and concrete paving projects for municipalities, utility companies, and businesses in the Henderson and Denver areas of Colorado.
“We don’t pave for a lot of new track home builders; we are the guys that come in and resurface the Taco Bell or your local grocery store. We also do parking lots for recreation centers, as that lies within the scope of our business,” says Marketing Manager Stacy Evans. As this is not a mainline paver, the company does not work on roadways or highways.
In 1975, brothers Keith, Ira, and Ray Sasina worked together to start Metro Pavers. Practical experience for the brothers came from working with local companies that performed concrete and asphalt work in the Denver metropolitan area. They saw an opportunity to get into the utility market, serving the telephone company in their water district.
“That spawned the idea of creating Metro Pavers. We made our target the water districts in municipalities. We are acting as their janitors for the hard surfacing world,” says Owner Mikey Sasina.
In 1978, the company became owned by just two of the brothers, and in 1989, the Mikey’s dad bought out his sibling to become the sole owner. In 2005, Keith Sasina passed away, leaving Mikey the company.
The company specializes in parking lots that lie between properties and have drainage issues that may cause flooding issues for nearby buildings. This problem may have happened due to growth over time or lack of foresight from builders. Commercial properties are not always built at the same time, and municipalities did not plan well a few decades ago. Typically, buildings erected next to each other would push water runoff onto a neighbor.
“What do you do with that water? Losses happen, and people are called in to remedy it. Every job has different challenges,” says Mikey.
Metro Pavers offers more than concrete and asphalt paving with a host of supplementary services. “We cover restoration and maintenance, along with trucking, which we do a lot of. Core drilling, signage, and traffic control. Sealing and coating, curb and gutter, hauling, and grading. Basically, we cover anything to do with hard surface maintenance. Our additional services account for about fifteen to twenty percent of our business, and that also includes snow removal and ice abatement,” says Mikey.
Public work is all done on by public bid. The bid process is a unique animal, but once used to it, it becomes an easy endeavor, Mikey and Stacy tell me. Getting these municipal and government projects creates a constant cash flow for the company, but unfortunately, it is not based on reputation; the lowest bidder typically gets the work.
“Because it is public money, it always goes to the lowest bidder. If someone gets a low bid contract and they fail miserably, it’s bonded, so they will go after the bond and put it back out for bid. You would think that the same contractor wouldn’t be allowed to bid again the next year, but they are always on the bidders list. That’s how it goes,” says Mikey.
Town councils make the call on what company gets the bid. But, by performing well and maintaining good relationships with the people who put out the bids, Metro Pavers is invited to bid more regularly. Sometimes things get overlooked in the previous bid process, and Metro prides itself on creative solutions to such problems.
What sets Metro Pavers apart from competitors is its adaptability. It has the necessary, updated equipment, the right amount of manpower, and expertise on staff that allows it to move faster than others in the industry.
Finding skilled workers is still a struggle, and it has been made even tougher for everybody in this industry. Insurance companies have changed policies, and now, anyone under the age of twenty-one is considered more of a liability.
Colorado is ranked one of the highest states in the nation for distracted driving from phone use and, combined with marijuana legalization, this has led to hiring fewer young adults fresh from school. It used to be that companies could easily hire a young person who wanted to be a truck driver or tradesman.
“We can’t touch them until they are twenty-one. By the time they hit twenty-one, some have families of their own, and their expectation level has changed. They have zero experience in our industry and yet demand a better wage because their personal demands are higher,” says Stacy.
There are no longer any internships or apprenticeships. It has become quite the conundrum, and Metro Pavers is limited as to what it can and cannot do. The new standards began two years ago, so in response, the company has put together a higher pay package that includes benefits not offered by its competitors.
Anytime the competition gets close to Metro’s benefits package, a new incentive or enticement is added. Fortunately, the ownership group has an entrepreneur who is trying to figure out how this can work in the present environment.
“It’s only one man, and luckily, we don’t have to answer to a board of directors. In that way, the creativity can be broadened. We have been able to get some new hires at twenty-one and over despite the inherent difficulties,” says Stacy.
There is a new issue to contend with pertaining to obtaining a commercial motor vehicle license. Anyone under twenty-five cannot go outside of a hundred-mile radius, which means that the more experienced drivers must go out on the open road and away from family. Usually, with seniority, drivers will be sent home at night to be with their families. Now, that is reversed, and the seasoned employees must go out, while the younger set goes home early.
In spite of the challenges, the company has managed to maintain an unrivalled level of expertise and retain employees. One of the aspects that separate Metro Pavers from the pack is that when customers call, they know that those same people will be working on their site.
Forty-five years in business is quite a milestone, so I asked Mikey to think back and say the first thing that comes to mind. “We like punishment,” he joked. On a more serious note, he mentioned that one of the people working at Metro Pavers has been around for nearly forty-four years and that three generations of his family also work for the company. There are other families in a similar position, with over thirty years of service and two to three generations working here.
In winter, employees go through winter manager training to improve their abilities. After training is over, employees and their families do something special together at the Christmas party. This year’s event enjoyed a big turnout, and everyone was excited to visit the Bandimere Speedway, where each manager nominated two employees to race.
“We reward our employees for doing a good job and treat them well, which means they give a better product to our customers. This is how we get repeat business. We hold barbecues in the summer and Christmas parties in the winter. We try and promote a family day in the summer as a way of giving everybody a break,” says Mikey.
“We all have to do something to make money, and family is something we support,” says Mikey.