Thirty-three years ago, John Doerrier, 53, president of Pavemaster Inc. in Bay Shore, launched his business as a means to put himself through school while summering on Long Island and getting his business degree at the University at Albany.
Though he started small -- only offering driveway sealing -- by the time he graduated he owned three trucks, was hiring a number of classmates and was making more money than a typical starting salary in his field.
"Business majors and accountants were starting at $18,000 a year, and I had made $35,000 in the summer," he recalled. "My mother kept wondering when I'd get a real job, and I would tell her: 'I have a job -- the work is dirty, but the money is clean.' "
By the second summer, Doerrier realized he could grow his company exponentially if he focused his energy on sales. Over the years, he acquired businesses and added paving, asphalt, pothole and drainage work. He grew by targeting companies with multiple locations, such as hospitals and banks.
How does weather affect your business?
Once the ground freezes we basically can't do anything outdoors because when the ground thaws out and moves, the new surface could crack or it could crumble. But we can do emergency work to make things safe. [Also,] once it gets over 95 degrees, it could be too hot to pour concrete; the properties in the concrete just won't set up correctly in that heat.
How do you fill the two-month gap in which the weather is too cold to work?
That's the toughest part of our business, and over the years I've tried to buy an oil business ... we do some snow work. It's just been tough. We maintain our equipment. We encourage employees to use their vacation in the winter. We lay some people off.
How have you grown the business?
We've actually grown through acquisitions. Rather than trying to advertise or trying to compete in different markets, when we took over CCC Paving Corp., Asphalt Pavers and Frank Cordeira & Sons we were able to keep a good customer base.
All of our costs have gone up because of shipping and fuel prices, yet it seems like our pricing hasn't reflected that. We're not able to get the additional costs that are necessary.
So how do you make up for it?
We try to become more efficient and more versatile. For instance, the guy who runs the striping end of our business also runs the driveway seal-coating part of our business, and our general manager runs our paver.
What's a new development in your industry?
People are using recycled asphalt and concrete instead of using stone. We can bring it to a recycler, and they grind it up. That's been a significant savings, and also it's kind of a way of being more green.
They're also using recycled asphalt in lieu of a portion of the stone used to make the asphalt. It creates significant savings for the consumer and keeps prices from soaring.
Name: John Doerrier, president, Pavemaster Inc., Asphalt Pavers, CCC Paving Corp, and Frank Cordeira & Sons in Bay Shore
What it does: All aspects of parking area and driveway construction and maintenance including paving and concrete, blacktop repairs, seal-coating, crack-filling, sweeping, striping, drainage, and masonry."
Employees: 20 full time; 4 part time
Roles they play: Sales, foremen, equipment operators, truck drivers, laborers, office staff
Revenue: $4 million