Hailing from Burlington Ontario, Associated Paving & Materials Ltd. is a construction company that goes beyond the common scope of operations to include community involvement, charitable efforts, and environmentally sound practices…
The company employs highly skilled workers and maintains a stringent training regimen, which supports its continued success and expansion. This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the company, and celebrations are underway to mark this significant moment in its history. We spoke with Consultant Mino Dagher and Vice President Stanley Capobianco Jr. to discuss the company’s history and its exciting future.
Associated Paving started in 1966 as a small, family-run business performing basic residential services such as paving driveways and sealing asphalt. Stanley’s grandfather (Antonio Capobianco) founded the company, and was later succeeded by Stan Capobianco Sr. Slowly but surely, the business shifted in focus to include more commercial work and projects that were larger than those that had previously been undertaken.
“We expanded into more commercial work through municipal industries, and that led to industrial work, which is one of our main concentrations now with the actual production of asphalt. We do everything now, with the exception of MTO [Ministry of Transportation – Ontario] highway work which is a future plan,” says Mino.
Celebrating fifty years of service is a milestone that should not go unrecognized, and a number of events are planned by the company, starting with internal employee appreciation days. Through these events, Associated Paving’s 150 employees will be provided with a background on the company and will be given an exciting glimpse into its future plans.
It takes a highly skilled workforce to do asphalt paving, work with concrete, and undertake milling or grading projects. Associated Paving has a comprehensive technical training program along with extensive health and safety training.
“Based on where we want to be in the industry, and in doing things for the environment, we continuously strive to recruit and scout for talent management. We look for a number of resources,” says Stanley. “Maintaining the current workforce by managing them accordingly, providing them with the skills, tools and resources they need to do their job efficiently and effectively.”
Staff are supported by Associated Paving’s wide array of optional cooperative education courses and soft skill courses to keep employees up-to-date with current industry skills and trends. The company has also recently created an educational incentive for its employees by encouraging them to identify skills from another department or a different technical skill set that they would like to obtain.
As well, Associated Paving is affiliated with many colleges in the surrounding area, including Mohawk College. The company has developed a relationship with Mohawk by annually offering cooperative education positions to students who would like to enter the industry. These initiatives help to support Associated Paving’s talent acquisition and serve to ensure that it can keep a steady and skilled workforce.
“We also take a look at the Ministry of Labour website and keep up with their standards. We look to see if there are any health and safety precautions, courses, or any updated policies that we need to be aware of to ensure that our employees are active in obtaining all those accreditations,” says Stanley.
To complement the highly dynamic and skilled workforce, Associated maintains a vast array of equipment and machinery which allows the company to undertake increasingly complex projects. The plant has been adapted to include the crushing of asphalt and concrete to produce aggregate materials using recyclables from various job sites. It fits nicely into its innovative ‘Go Green’ program.
“We acquire aggregates from quarries and pits. There is also a portion of what we do that is recycled. We either sell it as a product or include it into some of our products.” This includes broken asphalt and concrete from sidewalks, curbs, floors, asphalt parking lots, and driveways.
Having its own crushers allows Associated Paving to manage quality control. The company is very self-sufficient and possesses a fleet of tractor trailers and dump trucks. Stanley rationalizes that it is not ideal to be relying solely on brokers or other suppliers for machinery and staff.
“If there was ever an issue out in the industry, like there was some years go with a strike, then what do you do? The show must go on, and that’s why we buy our own trucks so that we can supply our own plant and ongoing projects.”
The 1994 ‘Go Green’ initiative came into being after the company realized that its volume of work was too large and decided to produce products internally. This changed the dynamic of the company, and the original plant was moved to Burlington from western Canada by Stanley Jr.’s father. Once the plant was procured, it took about six months to a year to get it commissioned.
There were many factors to take into consideration, including the location of the plant. Despite being in an industrial area, the company is also in proximity to residential and other businesses. Mino explains that the company has always taken great efforts to ensure that there are no adverse environmental impacts and that no residents in their area are concerned.
“We reached out to the Ministry of the Environment and opened up a research and development plan with them. This joint venture was in place to sustain the plant and get it to the point where we can satisfy our client base, our business, but also to satisfy the ministry and residents of the community as well,” says Stanley.
In 1999, the plant was in a growth mode and silos were added to help transition it into a continuous mix plant. Production was expanded, and then outside sales were opened to small paving companies who would buy the asphalt. This was when the Ministry of the Environment began to work with Associated Paving on an initiative to decrease emissions. Best practices were in place, but the ministry helped the company to do more than simply meet the standards set by current regulations. The company created a plant that was ahead of its time regarding the level of emissions being controlled. With the plant’s expansion, the ministry added other controls that supported further reduction of emissions. An example of this can be seen with the addition of condensers to the asphalt cement tanks, including the tanks of liquid asphalt that is added to the aggregates that make asphalt.
“Asphalt that is produced creates an emission, which contains VOCs [volatile organic compounds]. Condensers reduce those emissions. We also scavenged other emissions around the plant in order to put the VOCs back into the dryer for incineration. We are reducing emissions continually,” says Stanley.
Associated Paving is determined to leave a positive environmental footprint in the wake of its production and operations. Some of these efforts include keeping the grounds wet or swept, installing trees around the perimeter, controlling traffic in and out of the plant, instilling best practices and simply putting controls in place everywhere possible to reduce emissions or other environmental degradations. This has worked very well, and it receives very little if any complaints from surrounding businesses and residences.
The company also wants to get involved with local charities and explore the possibility of sponsoring other organizations. For the past ten years, it has donated to organizations such as The United Way and Run For The Cure. This year, it has taken this charitable imperative to give back to the community to a new level by involving its employees in the process. The company is actively seeking its employees’ input on what charities they would like to see the company support.
“We see other companies and people giving their heart and souls to the community and providing assistance wherever needed. We want to get our employees involved in that. There are a lot of local organizations and charities that can benefit from what we do. We are looking to our employees to gather as much detail as they can and pitch to us which local charity they would want us to sponsor.”
The company is growing, but Stanley tells me that the company is happy with its present size. It is trying not only to market the company and maintain its strategic position within the industry but also to look at it from an economic benefit perspective. The more the company grows, the more employees it can hire from the surrounding Greater Toronto Area or Golden Horseshoe area, supporting the economic growth and sustainability of this community.
For Associated Paving, it is not about a massive expansion; it is more about sustainable and cooperative growth. It is about doing little things within the company that will drive it to acquire more resources and success for its employees. The profit aspect is always important, but Mino tells me that it is just as important to run the company in a way that supports Associated Paving’s values and objectives for community involvement, environmental stewardship, and employee satisfaction.