Proud and Strong – CAPA Strives to Improve and Advance Asphalt Industry

Colorado Asphalt Pavement Association (CAPA)
Written by Allison Dempsey

Dedicated to providing the most up-to-date and comprehensive information while supporting its more than 250 organization members, the nonprofit trade association Colorado Asphalt Pavement Association (CAPA) proudly represents the asphalt industry of Colorado. The “voice of the asphalt industry” throughout the state, CAPA includes producer/contractor and user organizations in 78 cities, towns, counties and special districts, who utilize the invaluable technical assistance provided by the association.

With the mission statement of advancing the quality and use of asphalt pavements in Colorado, CAPA works with various agencies to support the design, construction and maintenance of high quality asphalt pavements, serving everything from large heavy and highway contractors, to municipal and small commercial pavers.

“What sets CAPA apart in the asphalt industry — our key to success — is that we are one of only three state asphalt pavement associations in the country, along with Texas and Oregon, that administer the state-required technician certification program on behalf of the DOT [Department of Transportation],” explains Executive Director Tom Peterson. “Through the certification program, we have a training center that sees close to 600 professionals a year come in to be certified. The program creates a partnership with the DOT at the technical level which is so very important.”

Not only is CAPA a trade association advocating on behalf of the industry, it also has a training and education arm. CAPA employs a full-time instructor who operates the Rocky Mountain Asphalt Education Center (RMAEC) and has been administering the Laboratory for Certification of Asphalt Technicians (LabCAT) for the past 22 years. The RMAEC facility consists of a classroom and fully operational asphalt mixture laboratory, with courses on Asphalt Mixture Design, Quality Control/Quality Assurance (QC/QA) Testing, and Asphalt Construction, and Inspector and Paving Personnel Training.

“That makes us unique and different,” says Peterson. “This full-service training program is based on the foundation of the technician certification program. We administer for testing technicians and inspectors, which then allows us to have the infrastructure and training center and six labs for a full-service training program for industry. It’s our primary role, with a core mission to both advance and improve the use of asphalt pavements in Colorado.”

Because of the training and education and certification program, CAPA offers reduced course fees for members and Colorado DOT representatives. The vast majority of material engineering consultants in Colorado are members of CAPA and with 78 cities, counties and towns that are affiliate agency members of CAPA, it’s the largest asphalt pavement association in the country.

Another key to the association’s success, says Peterson, is its leadership in the Rocky Mountain Asphalt Conference & Equipment Show. The 47th annual conference will be held Feb. 19 and 20 in Denver, and is the largest of its kind held in the country on a yearly basis. Co-sponsored by CAPA, the event is considered to be one of the most informative meetings of the construction industry, allowing CAPA to assist with innovations in technology, best practices, and an Educational Track on materials, maintenance and equipment operation. The two-day conference and 60,000 square foot trade show draws between 1,300 and 1,500 attendees, vendors, exhibitors, students and speakers. This year’s theme is Asphalt Proud and Strong.

Along with a dedication to information dissemination, CAPA’s expert staff also contributes greatly to the association’s ongoing success, with a director of training and member services and a director of engineering. “The staffing level allows us to provide technical assistance to our producer/contractor members and on the agency side, provide guidance on specifications and pavement and asset management,” says Peterson. “The staffing level allows us to provide tech assistance to contractors, consultants and agencies, and guidance to agencies and consultants on specifications and pavement management.”

The board of directors boasts a wide range of members, some with more than ten years’ experience. With no term limit on the duration of a member’s involvement, there’s plenty of diverse knowledge and experience at the ready. Six members have served for less than three years, which provides a balance of new blood and new ideas, fresh energy, and a tenured perspective that offers both stability and ingenuity to the direction of the association.

“Through natural attrition there’s a fair amount of turnover, but we also have the stability of those who have been on board for years and are senior executives of their companies to provide that confident leadership that allows the association to thrive,” says Peterson. “We have five past presidents that continue to serve on the board of directors, which adds up to a lot of experience.”

Notable milestones for CAPA include positioning asphalt successfully for major highway reconstruction projects delivered through design build or CM/GC (Construction Manager/General Contractor). Making asphalt the pavement material of choice is an ongoing goal. A keystone example is the use of asphalt for the $1.2 billion Central 70 Project. Asphalt was the selected pavement material as part of this design/build/maintain/operate/finance project through the northern part of the Denver metro area.

“When you’re a trade association, how good are you?” Peterson asks. “One measurement is how much of the industry do you represent? Well, we represent close to 95 percent of asphalt production in the state and we’re a 250-member organization strong,” he says. “A core focus is strengthening partnerships with industry organizations and agency partners.”

Collectively with the Colorado Department of Transportation, CAPA has successfully introduced new technology such as rubblization, SMA (stone matrix asphalt), and joint density specifications, to name a few. Through the National Centre for Asphalt Technology (NCAT), CAPA has sent, through its scholarship program, five to 10 professionals a year to Auburn University in Alabama for the past 17 years, and this year NCAT comes to Colorado for a week-long class with 100 attendees.

CAPA also takes environmental issues to heart and has published a wealth of information for public viewing at This website is replete with technical information that addresses common misperceptions about asphalt and the impact of emissions, fumes and odor.

“This arm’s length type of standalone site provides valuable information for people to use as a resource to understand the facts of asphalt production facilities, and understand that they can operate effectively in a people environment,” says Peterson. “It’s not a health problem, it’s an education problem, and we have found that the website provides info to address misconceptions of the environmental impact of asphalt.”

While CAPA’s charity involvement includes both the Wounded Warrior Project and the Food Bank of the Rockies, the association also works hard to help the public avoid “asphalt scam artists” who attempt to overcharge for paving services that are often times poor in quality and short in thickness.

“We are a resource to the general public who are often looking for best practice type information on getting a driveway paved and help on figuring out what to look for and what to avoid. This is a community service we provide at no cost to anyone to help people have confidence that they’re doing the right thing as they spend money to fix or improve a brand new driveway. It’s surprising: If you show up with a clean, brand new truck with asphalt and you appear to be reputable, people throw common sense out the window and get the checkbook. We provide guidance to citizens and homeowners to avoid fly-by-night contractors.”

Peterson says future goals include ramping up the use of asphalt nationwide. The industry hit a high watermark in 2007 of 12 million tons, but due to the recession of 2008 it dropped to six; it is now back up to nine and approaching 10.

“We want to get back to 12 million tons a year,” says Peterson. “The challenge we face is workforce development and working with agencies to maximize the construction window. Work is often bid late and starts in the summer, with a mad dash before the snow flies. If we’re going to continue to increase the volume of work – and there’s plenty of capacity – then learning how to maximize the construction season is critical. We need to start early, allow contractors the maximum hours of work windows, get in, get done and get out and move on to the next job.”

Overall, says Peterson, the success of CAPA is dependent on people – the relationships it cultivates between the association and its members. “Members buy into the mission of the association, and our mission is to advance the use and quality of asphalt pavements in Colorado,” he says. “We are strategic in nature, but also customize our service to individual members.”

CAPA works closely with the National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA), the Asphalt Institute, and the National Center of Asphalt Technology (NCAT) to provide its members with the latest and most current information at the national level, and will continue to work with these groups and associations to further the interests of the asphalt industry, its customers, and the motoring public.

“The association recognizes that members are looking for individual benefits of support, or programs or contracts, or to develop training or personnel. There must be a balance of doing these lofty activities to advance the industry with very specific detailed activities to help individual members.” CAPA was formed in the early 1980s and is approaching its 40th Anniversary. With the success it is having, planning for the next 40 years seems like a logical step!



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