What started in the ’80s as a father and son sealing team has adapted to age, growth and regional demand for Earnest (Earnie) R. Beckner, Jr. He and his father, Ray Beckner, Sr., began Beckner’s Asphalt Pavement Maintenance in 1984 in Daytona Beach, Florida. Around 1992, they dissolved the company and moved north, where Earnie began exploring the Northeastern United States looking for the ideal market for his pavement maintenance company.
“I finally settled in Southwestern Virginia, a great place to raise my children,” he said. “The area was starving for quality asphalt maintenance. After 20 years of providing my services to that region only, it became clear that I would have to make my services available to a larger market. I decided to develop resources in Richmond, Virginia, and Charlotte, North Carolina. These markets were and are booming.”
By 2009, Earnie’s son, Brandon Beckner, would join him in starting their own sealcoating company, U.S. Asphalt Maintenance LLC, based out of Richmond, and the work stayed in the family.
“My father still works with me, but on a limited basis,” Earnie said. “I chose a name for my company that reflected my beliefs and my commitment to my country. It’s also evident to the region that my company is available to work.”
Brandon has since branched into paving, but Earnie keeps U.S. Asphalt focused on the pavement maintenance application of sealing. “I take care of sealcoating, crack filling, asphalt management, and striping/pavement markings. My wife takes care of the office and I run the crew,” he said. That focus will expand in geography only.
“We have developed resources up and down the Eastern United States, and have plans to open an office in Florida.”
Earnie also has a strong partner with his wife running the office. “My wife, Christine, is a person with many hats in our company. She is a multi-tasking individual, she oversees invoicing, work orders, and keeps me on schedule. She definitely has an important role in our business and is my partner in so many ways; in fact she is everything! When things are good, with a lot of work, she keeps me focused. When things are slow, she keeps me positive. When I am shorthanded on a job, she comes out to help. That is a true partner, and I am blessed to have such a woman help drive our company to success.”
As a seasonal business, U.S. Asphalt doesn’t have many fulltime employees. This is one of the reasons Earnie does so much of the work. Another reason is his love of the job.
“Due to my extensive experience, each and every project is performed by me,” Earnie said. “I do the sealing and striping on each and every project. The reason I do this is simple: I love it! Customers want the best, and I know I can give them that.”
Earnie backs that up with his work as a member of the Rabine Paving America Group. “We are a certified partner, which means we have met and exceeded all requirements as such,” Earnie explained.
Some of the products he uses will be familiar to readers. “I use a few products on the market including GemSeal, Neyra and Sealmaster through Professional Pavement Products (PPP). I like them for quite a few reasons, one of them being their program called Job Flex that provides contractors like myself with flexible credit needs for specific jobs. This enables us to move forward on large scale projects. Most projects don’t allow down payments, so this is a great attribute.”
He uses a SealRite 850 Extreme for sealcoating, Titan line stripers and Crafco melters for crack repair. There are times, of course, when he sees lots that have been left too long without maintenance, and simple crack filling and sealing won’t be the right treatment. “If the lot is in real bad condition, we kindly decline to bid, but I offer them a respectful reason. I’m all about sharing my knowledge with a prospective client.”
To share that knowledge, Earnie will spend time with the customer at his or her lot and discuss the problems he sees for long-term solutions. “With this issue, I’ll spend as much time as it takes. From a simple 15-minute face-to-face, or an all-day drive around viewing work I’ve done in the past, this helps develop a relationship and becomes a foundation of confidence that cannot be surpassed by just a bid presentation. I really try to make each and every customer happy; along with that, I educate them on the process and the projected outcome. Then they can make an intelligent decision based on the facts.”
What’s good for business, for all maintenance contractors, is a trend Earnie has seen over the years. “I have noticed that commercial clients, as well as residential, are all about preserving and maintaining their asphalt investments.”
In this industry, that’s a great feeling. “There is an overwhelming sense of satisfaction gained when a job is completed and I look at it and knowing I did it. As well, I can send any prospect over to look at my work with extreme confidence.” between jobs. He shared, “We don’t go from state to state back-to-back without coming home first for a couple days, unless the projects are small projects that only require a day or two to complete. We all need to be with family and loved ones. This helps the crew keep energized with a little R and R.”