Huge changes have taken place at Brothers Paving & Concrete Corporation since Construction in Focus profiled the construction company in August 2018.
Based in Manassas, Virginia, Brothers’ workforce has almost doubled, and the company is now part of Pave America, LLC, an umbrella firm with a nationwide reach. This move has given Brothers access to new markets and a broader labor pool.
“We advertise ourselves as Brothers Paving & Concrete, LLC, a Pave America company,” Brothers President Aaron Goss explains.
The company’s services include asphalt paving, sealcoating, concrete, asphalt repair, crack sealing, millings, pavement markings, and paving extras. Its main markets are residential (mostly in the form of HOAs or Homeowner Associations), commercial, and government.
Since joining Pave America, Brothers’ commercial work has expanded and now includes big box clients such as Home Depot, Target, and Walmart. Government work is often focused on schools and the company also completes projects in the utilities sector, primarily with gas companies. Utilities-related work can entail digging up roads and sidewalks so repair crews can mend or replace underground pipes and cables.
Brothers continues to garner high-profile assignments, having recently completed a huge project for the Dunbarton Community Association, an HOA based in Bristow, Virginia, for example. “We ripped out their entire network of roads and replaced it and did several other things like sidewalks and some driveways. It was a very large development and normally paving companies would not be able to handle it, but because we have so many crews and we have the capacity, it was done in record time and was very high quality,” says Goss, with a touch of pride.
About 90 percent of Brothers’ work is self-performed at present, although that figure might change slightly now that it’s part of Pave America.
The background to “bigger”
Some background: in 2021, Brothers Paving & Concrete was purchased by a private investment firm. At the same time, another private investment firm was going around acquiring other paving companies. In late February of this year, those two firms—Pavement Partners Holding, LLC and Brothers National, LLC—merged to create Pave America.
With its headquarters in Warrenton, Virginia, Pave America describes itself as “a leading provider of asphalt and concrete solutions, including maintenance, repair, milling, striping, and sealcoating services. Over 1,400 employees work at companies within the Pave America fold.”
Brothers helps other Pave America firms with projects and sometimes requests support in return. While Brothers primarily concentrates on the region “between Baltimore and Richmond” (a swath of the East Coast that includes Maryland, Washington DC, and Virginia), the firm is now taking on assignments farther afield, says Goss.
“Just last winter, we started doing some work in Florida with our sister companies because we can’t work here in the winter. We have 16 crews, so we sent two to Florida, which is the first time we’ve ever done that. We’ve learned some things, and will probably do it again,” he shares.
Although the Virginia area doesn’t get a huge amount of snow, the period from the end of Thanksgiving to mid-March poses climatic challenges. Concrete, sealcoat, and asphalt mixes that are typically used in the region come with “temperature limitations” that can cause issues if they are laid out in cold weather, Goss explains.
Some paving and asphalt companies lay off staff in wintertime when outdoor work slows. Brothers takes a different approach and keeps its personnel employed year-round, part of a deliberate strategy to attract and retain workers interested in stability and career advancement. The firm extends generous benefits to staff including matching 401(k) payments, insurance, social activities, and even fitness instruction. “We have a professional bodybuilder who comes into the office twice a week and helps people go through workouts to stay healthy,” says Goss.
The staff is strongly encouraged to engage in continuing education and to upgrade their skills. Goss leads by example and has studied traffic-control safety and financial documentation.
“I went to get my certification for traffic control safety, which presidents do not need. I’m not going to be the flagger on some site but I wanted to make sure I understood the processes and protocols in place for my crews, and he adds, “I’m going through financial document training. When it comes to balance sheets and income statements, I’m well-versed to do that.”
Marketing Manager Dashaun Coleman, for her part, has a drone license that enables her to take airborne photographs and videos of worksites for technical and promotional purposes.
This strategy is paying off; Brothers’ workforce has massively increased, from 140 to 150 employees at the time of the previous profile to roughly 240 today. “We’re actively looking for people all the time,” says Goss.
Former Brothers President Paul Battista set the tone for the company’s inclusive culture, says Goss, and Battista was also instrumental in establishing Brothers’ benefits package and encouraging long-term workforce loyalty. The former President of Brothers, Battista now serves on the Board of Directors for Pave America.
“It’s important that the founder of this whole thing still has his hand in operations and in decisions—it’s strategic management at board level,” says Goss.
Keeping the values
As the company grows, Goss is eager to maintain the close-knit, supportive atmosphere established by his predecessor. “We’re trying to keep the values, and the company is still family-centered,” he says.
Of course, not all developments at Brothers since the previous profile were totally positive. COVID had a major effect on all North American companies, and Brothers went out of its way to keep staff safe. Some employees worked at home; cleaning processes were enhanced; and masking and COVID testing were introduced and health information disseminated.
“The leadership team met every week to review the situation and make sure we were up to speed with government regulations and things like that,” adds Goss.
Surprisingly, business-wise, the pandemic gave Brothers something of a boost. Since people were inclined to stay at home, COVID provided Brothers with a window of opportunity to work on normally busy roads and parking lots. That said, COVID’s lingering presence has caused supply chain woes.
“We still have major issues on the equipment side. It won’t be the entire piece of equipment; it’s not as though semi-trucks are not available, but it’s like, we broke an axle portion that’s made in Germany and now the entire truck is down because we can’t get a rod. It’s a big pain,” says Goss. He remains highly optimistic about the future, however.
If anything, the company’s rapid response to COVID epitomized its long-held dedication to health and safety. “We have a series of meetings with lots of different departments and leaders. And every single week, our leadership meeting, our operations meeting, our sales meeting, and our equipment meeting, all start with a safety moment.
The important stuff: safety
“We have a safety officer. All he does is safety, all day long, all week long. He makes sure we’re OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) compliant, and we have processes in place to ensure safety that goes above and beyond OSHA requirements,” says Goss.
Workers in the field start their shift with “what we call a pre-site huddle, where they all get together and point out things like power lines, or trash day—be aware of the trash trucks coming along. Whatever it may be that’s unique to that site, that day. They make sure everybody’s wearing their PPE,” he continues.
In another safety move, the company outsources flagging and traffic safety work, so such duties are performed independently from the foreman on a site. This separation of powers is designed as a counterbalance just in case a foreman should push the crew to work at an unsafe pace.
This safety-first attitude is part of a broader, community-focused ethos. “One of our taglines is ‘building better communities together.’ It’s kind of been our mantra. It’s important to me as President that it’s not just a nice saying; that we’re really doing that,” says Goss.
To this end, Brothers regularly assists with charitable initiatives (one recent project involved a family community shelter) and has provided private assistance to employees. It constantly tries to give as much back to the community as possible.
One non-COVID-related issue that remains an ongoing challenge is labor. For all the benefits Brothers offers, finding qualified personnel can sometimes be difficult.
“There’s a plethora of people who have degrees, but we don’t have a lot of positions that require the kind of degrees they’re coming out with—engineering and business management, which we really admire—but what we need are mechanics and heavy equipment operators, and there’s a shortage,” says Goss.
Labor shortages aside, Goss has big plans for Brothers and sees the company five years from now as part of a larger Pave America entity. “We’re going to continue to grow. I think that growth will be organic at Brothers in Manassas as well as in the network we’re part of.”