Paving a Smooth Path Forward

Atlantic Southern Paving & Sealcoating
Written by Nate Hendley

Atlantic Southern Paving & Sealcoating (ASP) has established a formidable reputation for providing excellent pavement maintenance services at parking lots across the United States. This Florida-based firm has experienced phenomenal growth in recent years and has appeared multiple times on lists of fastest-growing companies compiled by business magazines.

Headquartered in Sunrise, Florida, with a local and national division and two additional local branches in Fort Myers and Cocoa in the same state, the company’s status as a leader in its field is quite an accomplishment, given its humble origins. ASP was launched in 1992 by Michael ‘Mickey’ Curry, with the same focus as today but with a minuscule staff.

“It was a small pavement maintenance company that originally started out with about five people. We had your typical growing pains. We’ve gone from five people… now we have 450. It’s a twenty-five-year-plus overnight success, I would say,” says Michael Curry, Jr.

Michael, the son of the founder, is now the Chief Executive Officer. Mickey remains with the company but has largely stepped back from day-to-day management. A second son, Dan Curry, currently works as Vice President.

Michael attributes ASP’s longevity and success to the simple formula of “people, core values, doing the right thing the right way.”

Those core values are “excellence, teamwork, and passion,” states Chief Operating Officer Terry Smith. “The success we’ve had as a company is all because of the culture that Mickey established in 1992 and we’ve continued to focus on. This is the reason we’ve been able to grow and add employees who are interested in the same vision we’re interested in.”

The company’s services include asphalt milling and paving, asphalt and concrete repairs, crack sealing, sealcoating, drainage, and site development to name a few. While it has a small division devoted to pavement construction, the company does not design parking lots, leaving that work to civil engineers. Most of its work centers on pavement maintenance with the majority of it being self-performed, although there are a few things that are contracted out.

Thanks to a series of recent acquisitions, ASP now boasts a coast-to-coast presence with a total of 450 employees. “We’ve done eight acquisitions within the last two years. We are built on a hybrid model, where we have a national sales team that sells into all fifty states and our local divisions and acquisitions that complete work local to their areas,” says Smith.

These acquisitions consist of two California-based companies: Emerald Paving Company and Black Diamond Paving & Concrete, with a North Cal and a South Cal branch; Murphee Paving, with three branches in Mississippi; Massey Asphalt Paving of Alabama; Paradise Pavement Maintenance of Missouri; C&T Paving and the Pavement Exchange of North Carolina, and Superior Blacktop Services of South Carolina. Once acquired, firms “maintain their brand,” but are “now an ASP company,” adds Curry.

While ASP is based in Florida, its sister companies are mostly located in Southern and Western states where warm weather predominates. This geographic footprint makes good business sense; the absence of snow and ice in such locales allows for year-round pavement maintenance.

However, the company can take on assignments anywhere in the country through its national division. The team’s partnerships with trusted, certified partners in every state, and the different divisions, allow them to provide competitive nationwide services. A map depicting national projects completed by ASP and affiliated firms features entries in every state, including Alaska and Hawaii. Major clients include KFC, Barnes and Noble, Target, Walmart, Home Depot, and FedEx. While management is eager to continue expanding, there are no plans to establish branches outside the U.S.

Retailers, restaurants, hotels, municipalities, and government properties are the sectors served. According to Curry, big-box retail brings in the most revenue. The company works with various vendors who supply asphalt, concrete, and other materials for projects. Each Florida branch maintains an equipment yard stocked with pavement maintenance and/or construction vehicles and machines.

“Preventative maintenance is what we focus on. That allows our customers to extend the life of their parking lots with lower costs of ownership,” states Smith, with Curry adding: “Preventative maintenance is where sealcoating, crack sealing, restriping, and sometimes asphalt repairs come into play.”

Quality is maintained through attention to detail, an attribute with which every employee is encouraged to engage. “We really look for the little things that make a difference. In doing that, it’s driven all the way down to the field level, to make sure [staff are] doing what they’re supposed to be doing. There are supervisors and quality control people that oversee the work,” Curry says.

In the same manner, safety is ensured through vigorous training and strict adherence to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations. Training for new hires is conducted in the classroom and with computers and videos.

In addition, “A lot of the training is job site training with foremen and superintendents overseeing the crews, working with new people or less experienced people, to make sure they understand how everything works,” Smith notes.

Training does not end either once new staff are brought up to speed on company processes, services, and policies. “We are continually doing training. Each week, we do toolbox talks, where we talk about safety and training. We’re wearing all the gear that needs to be worn on the job. It comes down to the training and doing the right thing while on the job and always being cognizant of your surroundings and looking out for your teammates,” he continues.

In addition to educating its staff, ASP also works hard to educate clients—and the public in general—about the importance of pavement maintenance. To this end, the company website has a section featuring tips, a blog, and company videos.

“We try to partner with our customers,” states Smith. “We’re supposed to be the experts in the asphalt paving industry. We help by providing knowledge. We try to educate the customers on what’s going on with their parking lots and concrete and sidewalks.” He adds, “People understand landscaping. They understand roofing. But paving is something that the knowledge isn’t quite out there.”

The company shares a free, downloadable parking lot budgeting guide, and recent blog posts have discussed topics such as parking lot liability maintenance and various aspects of asphalt sealcoating.

During the COVID shutdowns, ASP was deemed to be an essential business and allowed to stay open. Still, the virus represented a considerable challenge. The pandemic caused “a ton of adversity that we had to endure. Bottom line, we fought through it and did really well but there were a lot of challenges along the way, especially from a health perspective and keeping everyone healthy and safe,” Curry recalls.

Laborers in the field were provided with masks and hand sanitizer, and workplace health protocols were followed. In addition to COVID, Florida is prone to hurricanes. These storms do not directly affect the company, but team does do “clean-up work to help our clients,” after hurricane events, he says. Hurricanes do have an indirect effect on operations, in that debris, flooding, and downed power lines sometimes make it difficult to access parking lots owned by clients.

Customers like what ASP is doing, as the company has earned a slew of industry honors in recent years. The firm has made the ‘Florida Fast 100’ list of rapidly growing companies compiled by the Tampa Bay Business Journal and the prestigious Inc. magazine Inc. 5000 list on several occasions. It was ranked number 3881 on the Inc. list in 2021, rising to the 3462 spot in 2022.

Being honored in such a fashion “is a testament to our employees and our team,” states Smith.

In addition to a work hard ethos, the company tries to maintain a friendly atmosphere with staff, featuring get-togethers and social and recreational activities. Given the company’s rapid expansion, it takes a careful approach when evaluating potential hires.

“We focus on the human being themselves. People who communicate well, are respectful, things of that nature. They don’t have to be industry-specific, as far as their knowledge. We like to hire the human and then train them in the industry,” explains Curry.

Besides COVID, finding quality staff remains ASP’s biggest challenge. This is in part due to economic conditions; a low unemployment rate means there is not a huge pool of people looking for work, and the pool that does exist is being tapped by many companies, all eager to attract new personnel.

For all that, Curry and Smith remain highly optimistic about the future. The basic idea is to keep on keeping on. There are no plans to add new services, but rather the focus is on enhancing existing services while continuing to bring on new acquisitions and grow both locally and nationally.

“We’re going to continue on the path we’re on right now. As far as growing organically as well as through M&A (mergers and acquisitions), it could be five years from now that we’re a $500-million to $750-million company revenue-wise,” states Curry.

“With that type of growth, it would probably put us with 1,000 employees,” Smith adds.

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