250,000 sq. ft. a day

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					    250,000 sq. ft. a day
    North Suburban Asphalt Maintenance keeps its crew small,
    its workload heavy, and its productivity and profitability high
    By Allan Heydorn

                                                                                            “It’s tough to keep equipment clean in this

          l Harris believes in owning        cate the best mix of equipment to each         business but we try our hardest,” says
          equipment. It’s the bedrock        job, resulting in the most efficient use       Al Harris. “It’s nice when you’re running
          of his 20-year-old sealcoating     of equipment and labor – and greater           down the road to a job; it looks like a
business, enabling his small crew to out-    profit. In fact, largely because of the        military convoy. I see that sometimes and I
                                                                                            remember what I had when I started and it
produce contractors with larger crews,       way he uses equipment, a typical day           makes you feel pretty good.”
and it’s the basis of his approach to his    for his small crew will involve routing
entire pavement maintenance operation.       and cracksealing up to 8,000 linear feet
   “We invest in equipment totally           of cracks and cleaning and applying            ment maintenance contractors: Out of
for efficiency,” Harris says. “It’s the      two coats of sealer on up to 250,000           the trunk of his car Harris sealcoated
key to winning many of the jobs we           sq. ft. of parking lot.                        driveways part time starting in 1988.
go after, and it’s the key to being effi-        “That’s about the norm,” Harris says.      In 1997 his father, Howard, joined as
cient. If you have the equipment you’re      “It’s definitely more at times, but we         part of the crew and Harris added small
not limited as to what you can do,           can comfortably do 250,000 sq. ft. in a        commercial jobs, often subcontracted.
so when I tell a customer we can do          day, no problem.”                              Then he bought his first 1,000-gal.
something, we can do it.”                                                                   spray machine.
   By owning enough equipment, and           Commercial work focus                             “That,” he says, “was the real begin-
the right combination of equipment,          Growth of North Suburban Asphalt               ning of North Suburban Asphalt
North Suburban Asphalt Mainte-               Maintenance follows a pattern that             Maintenance. Ever since then the busi-
nance, Wheeling, IL, is able to allo-        likely looks familiar to many pave-            ness has doubled, tripled, and even
                                                                                                     quadrupled in sales from one
                                                                                                     year to the next, and 2008 was
                                                                                                     our biggest year yet, mainte-
                                                                                                         Harris says North Suburban
                                                                                                     Asphalt tackled what he termed
                                                                                                     “probably the biggest parking
                                                                                                     lot sealcoating job in Illinois in
                                                                                                     2008” for Harper College as a
                                                                                                     subcontractor. In addition to
                                                                                                     cracksealing more than 15,000
                                                       “We figure out our overhead, our labor,       linear feet of cracks over 14
                               and our
Description: He says cross training wasn't a planned step in the company's growth, but it's a welcome step he encouraged when he noticed production lagging on some jobs a few years back. "I asked why it took so long on a few of the jobs and I was told 'Well, this guy didn't know how to do that,' or 'this guy didn't come in so we had to teach a guy to do that.' I knew we couldn't operate that way and continue to be productive at the level we want to be at, so everyone...
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