In February I was able to visit my brother Bill in Corona, California. During the visit we talked about his contracting business, Landmark Site Contractors.
Bill and a partner started the business in 1996 as a paving company. By 2001, they had purchased two paving machines and had about 28 full-time employees on the payroll. They also had a smaller concrete crew they kept busy with curb and gutter work and the occasional flatwork, and also employed one grading crew.
Their favorite jobs were “turn key” projects; ones in which they take a project from the ground, or in this case, underground, up. With their particular mix of employees and equipment, these jobs proved the most profitable. However, they accepted many other assignments where final paving was the only portion of the contract they got.
As an example of the type of jobs they were doing in 2001, two projects demonstrate their versatility.
- In Coachella, they placed concrete flatwork on a project involving three schools,
- In Victorville, it was 100,000 sq. ft. of asphalt in a residential tract.
- They also placed 4,500 lineal feet of curb and gutter, and sidewalks as well. On the paving portion, they used 1,500 tons of asphalt over a 12-inch, class 2 base. After final construction of the housing tract, they overlaid the final 1-inch layer of asphalt as a finish coat to bring streets to final grade.
But around 2006 things begin to change, jobs were harder to get. At bid openings, where there used to be five or ten contractors bidding a job, there were now 20 to 30. When there are that may contractors bidding on one job, someone is bidding low and not making any money.
Bill didn’t want to work for free, so he began looking around for different types of work. What he found was park construction. He had been doing jobs with underground work (power, water, drainage and sewer), grading, cement work, asphalt and planters. A park has all of the same components, but instead of lots of asphalt with a few planters it is a lot of grass or sports fields with parking lots around them. The best part about the parks is there were not a lot of contractors bidding on the work.
From 2006 to today Bill has been building parks.
I have never heard Bill complain about the state of the industry or the economy. He has always been watching and listening to what was happening in the world around him.
- In 1996 there was a place for a small niche Asphalt paving contractor and he filled it.
- In 2006 that niche was disappearing so he began looking for his next niche. What he found was park construction.
- Now in 2011 the work on parks is slowing down and Bill is already looking for his next niche.
This story illustrates how successful businesses need to always be aware of change and be proactive in response to new opportunities. Take a fresh look at your industry. How can you position your business to ride out change and prosper in a changing world.