Sealcoating on asphalt or concrete surfaces isn’t decorative; it’s highly functional and protects considerable investment. Sealcoating safeguards home driveways, gas stations, parking lots, even airport surfaces from wear and tear, oil and gasoline spillages, water, snow, wind, rain, and hail.
Not to mention the little matter of looking new for longer.
Long before founding STAR Inc. in 1986, Girish C. Dubey made sealcoating his passion and his profession. Holding a master’s degree in inorganic chemistry from India’s Gorakhpur University, Dubey furthered his education in chemistry at Wright State University in Ohio before embarking on a career with sustainable coatings company Hempel in the 1970s.
By the time STAR was created, Dubey’s knowledge of chemistry, manufacturing processes, and the technologies surrounding sealcoatings had become encyclopedic. Rather than keep this know-how to himself, Dubey has enthusiastically shared it with property owners and others, helping them select just the right products for their specific applications.
Anatomy of a sealcoater
Headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, STAR has grown today to a staff of 150 in North America, 15 plants, and three international manufacturing facilities in India, Australia, and China.
The latest plant to come on board, in May 2021, was Massachusetts-based Kol-Tar Inc. Through its technology licensing program, STAR is the only U.S.-based company to provide others with the opportunity to be a part of the growing sealcoating industry.
Different from an ordinary franchise program, STAR works hand-in-hand with its licensees and is dedicated to providing them with in-depth experience and knowledge of pavement maintenance and preservation.
To STAR, integrity is everything, proclaiming on its website that, “STAR Licensees have dedicated their entire business to the highest standards of quality and integrity. This stance is taken very seriously.” For Dubey, this means treating all staff and licensees with respect and the utmost professionalism.
Navigating the pandemic
The past two-plus years have been a challenge for many businesses and industries, who have had to deal with COVID-related worker shortages, supply chain and logistics issues, unpredictable weather, the Suez Canal obstruction preventing the flow of goods, and a great deal more.
These factors and others have sent prices soaring for everything from groceries to construction products and raw materials, such as those used to create many unique STAR sealcoating formulations.
Dubey estimates his costs have increased on average 25 to 30 percent. “Materials did not disappear, but the cost of operations increased a great deal,” he says, adding that material suppliers faced labor shortages, and it was hard finding new people to do the work.
“During that time, the raw material was there, but if there’s no one to process the material, it gets delayed. And when they get back to processing, they have to recover all the costs they have incurred. In the global market. There is a lot of back-and-forth. A lot of raw materials are imported, unfortunately, on Russian-flagged vessels. Now those are sanctioned,” he shares.
With supply chain stoppages and slowdowns, too few workers, and other factors that affect the flow of materials, manufacturers worldwide have passed on significant price increases to their customers and vendors. This is not the case with STAR. To soften the financial blow, STAR sacrificed its own margins as well, a remarkable show of Dubey and his company’s dedication to those who’s custom and loyalty had made STAR a success.
“The fact is, we have worked with our customers, and we’ve not let them bear the brunt themselves. We have shared these price escalations – we haven’t passed along the cost increases just indiscriminately to our customers. We look at every item and take some concessions to our customers.”
While manufacturers absorbing some costs might sound a tad unusual, Dubey and his team realize that everyone is in the same situation and experiencing stresses over global price increases.
Fortunately, even with higher prices for raw materials, STAR, as a mature, well-established company, remains competitive.
By giving concessions to its licensees for STAR products, Dubey is certain they are giving concessions to their customers on the front lines, with everyone working together in an uncertain, post-pandemic world.
Superseding earlier generations of sealcoatings which were made from skin-irritating coal-tar, STAR’s products are better for people, the planet, and customer pocketbooks. These products include the STAR-TRITON® line. Enhancing the life of pavement by about 300 percent, these products cost only 30 percent as much as a new installation.
Available in a dynamic range of colors, the company’s STAR SPECTRUM® coating products are unmatched in the market. Representing the next generation of pavement maintenance, STAR SPECTRUM products are colorfast, performance boosting, and formulated with durable, 100 percent acrylic latex polymers for attractiveness and resistance to chemicals and the elements.
Not limiting itself to asphalt, the company is also behind MACRO-DECK® – quality products made specifically to protect concrete.
Quickly penetrating concrete surfaces, MACRO-DECK brings an unparalleled level of protection, safeguarding against water, salt, and other harmful elements, and inhibits chlorine de-icing chemicals. With its water-like consistency, MACRO-DECK is easy to apply, safe and easy to store, non-flammable, and maintains the concrete’s flexural and tensile strength.
Along with STAR-TRITON, STAR SPECTRUM, and MACRO-DECK, the company is proud to offer customers many other products, such as STAR-CRETE ACRYLIC LATEX CONCRETE STAIN, STAR-CRETE STAR PRISM, STAR® ARMOUR-GUARD™, STAR-CRETE ACID-ETCH, and more.
License to prosper
Recently updating and adding more content and videos to its website (www.starseal.com), STAR has also enhanced its “Own a Star Plant” section, which outlines the many benefits of becoming a licensee, including help with plant layout, research and product development, marketing and sales promotion, video testimonials, and more.
“We are working very aggressively on the licensing program,” says Dubey of STAR, which is also investigating new North American locations.
Initiating a bold marketing campaign for licensee plants and working on new products, Dubey is confident the coming years will be successful and productive for STAR and its licensees. “Our plan is to get in touch with people looking at the testimonial videos and see if they are ready to talk.”
Although STAR saw a modest drop in business in 2020, the company was considered an essential business during the height of COVID. None of its plants were shut down for any length of time, and production levels were down only slightly. Last year, however, was “fabulous beyond expectations, the best year in our history,” says Dubey, who believes pent-up demand in the business for maintaining infrastructure was a factor.
And while there are still some domestic and international issues surrounding logistics, shortages and rising material costs, and even the availability of vessels to transport products overseas, Dubey remains idealistic and cheerfully realistic and about the future of the company he founded almost four decades ago.
“We are sailing for a perfect storm and, touch wood, doing so well,” he says. “Market demand is the pulling factor. At the same time, dedication and commitment – doing the best we can, working with our customers, keeping them supplied and satisfied – is the mantra of the company.”