Meet 2015 NAPA Chairman Michael M. Cote
BY AsphaltPro Staff
As 2015 gets under way, we’re honored to give readers a glimpse of the incoming chairman of the National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA). Michael M. Cote is the executive vice president and chief development officer of The Lane Construction Corporation of Cheshire, Conn. Although Cote covers all the areas in which Lane Construction works, which is more than 20 states, he’s based out of Cheshire, where he lives with his wife Jana.
Cote has a Bachelors of Science degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Maine and a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Let’s take a look at some of the leadership thoughts and background that make the 2015 NAPA chairman tick.
Company’s Full Name: The Lane Construction Corporation, Cheshire, Connecticut
How long has Lane Construction been a member of NAPA? 12 years
How long have you, personally, been in the asphalt industry? 30 years
Children: Benjamin 30, Ethan 28, and Laura 27. Two grandchildren: Tristan 2, and Owen 10 months.
Pets: Two cats, Sam & Stewart
I enjoy running, golf, fishing, riding my motorcycle.
1. In what ways does Lane Construction encourage its executive staff to seek construction industry involvement?
Our CEO is very active in leadership positions in associations and encourages employees to be active in all levels of associations (committees, boards, task groups, etc.)
2. Why did you choose asphalt and NAPA as your industry commitments?
I’ve been involved in the asphalt industry since high school and asphalt represents about 40% of Lane’s business. NAPA represents the asphalt industry well at the national and global levels.
3. Would you say Lane Construction has had much difficulty or not much difficulty in recent months, in finding qualified workers for asphalt paving or asphalt production crews?
In spite of the higher levels of unemployment, Lane has had some difficulty finding qualified workers. Making our industry attractive to young people needs to be a focus point.
4. Could you give an example (or two) of a way the State Asphalt Pavement Associations assist their members, such as Lane, with workforce development?
State associations often have meetings focused solely on training and addressing issues specific to the state in question. Training on important topics like best practices for laydown, effective utilization of local materials, and how to plan for state funding pitfalls are examples of SAPA assistance to their members.
5. Could you give an example (or two) of a way Lane Construction works with area employment agencies or workforce development agencies to encourage interest in construction as a career choice?
Lane participates in job fairs at local high schools, our employees do presentations for middle schoolers, and Lane is active in the internship programs at many colleges in areas we work. We participate in on-the-job training programs and strive to meet or exceed SBE/DBE/WBE goals and promote equal opportunity.
6. As the chief development officer for Lane, what are the top two or three ways you have enhanced the environment for workers in the company? (and do you think other asphalt companies could implement these methods?)
As Chief Development Officer, the group I manage is responsible for identifying and procuring design-build and P3 projects for the company. Many of the projects include a large paving component. We have developed clear processes to help our employees target and then win projects by focusing on areas where we have a competitive advantage. We have eliminated the shotgun approach to bidding projects, which has led to more efficient use of our resources and higher win rates.
7. What is your favorite method for recruiting new asphalt professionals to the industry in general? And why?
Word-of-mouth is always a very powerful way to get your company’s name out in the industry. The reputation the company develops and maintains regarding employees and customers is a key to success in recruiting and acquisition of work.
8. How much of a threat to the asphalt industry’s market share is the concrete industry in the states where Lane Construction does business?
The concrete industry continues to be a significant threat in many markets that Lane serves. Somewhat less in the northern states, but certainly one we take seriously everywhere we provide asphalt products.
9. Could you share an example/anecdote of a time when the concrete industry encroached on the asphalt marketplace in one of those states?
Airport runways in Virginia seem to be the application where concrete has encroached on asphalt market share in areas we work. Material handling yards at paper mills in Maine are another. However, asphalt has proven its usefulness in both these scenarios time and time again.
10. Some Lane Construction divisions participate in the American Concrete Pavement Association’s Mid-Atlantic Chapter. How do you balance your affiliation with a superior performing product (asphalt) with other company members’ affiliation with concrete? Is there a sense of competition within the company to “do a better job” than another division?
We have some locations in the mid-Atlantic and mid-south that are active in the ACPA mainly because some agencies specify concrete for a portion of their work. So, as a paving contractor, we try to cater to our customer’s preferences, but asphalt is by far our largest volume paving product.
11. As you take on the travel and engagements of a NAPA chairman, who will assist with the responsibilities of chief development officer back at Lane Construction? And what can you share with our audience about his or her competencies for the job?
The Development team at Lane is well-staffed with experienced, empowered people at all levels. The development and proposal teams understand their roles and responsibilities and work well supporting each other, and my management peers can certainly fill in when needed. The asphalt industry is full of very pragmatic people with the work ethic and energy to get anything done. When each player knows their role on the team and executes well, it can be a very powerful force.
Get to Know Mike Cote
1. Other than assisting in the promotion of a new highway bill, for which we are all responsible, what do you see as the most important part of your job as the 2015 chairman for NAPA?
My most important job for 2015, other than assisting in the promotion of a new, long term highway bill, will be to continue bringing the team of the Asphalt Institute, the State Asphalt Pavement Associations, and NAPA together under the Asphalt Pavement Alliance. Each group must understand their role and the importance of the team working together to promote the use of asphalt pavements. This is critical to our continued success.
2. What do you find most enjoyable about your job as a chief development officer for Lane Construction and how do you think that experience will influence your activities as 2015 chairman of NAPA?
As I’ve mentioned a couple of times already, bringing a team of capable individuals together and making them stronger as a team is rewarding for all involved. If you’ve ever been part of a high performing team — something that is better than the sum of its parts — you know how enjoyable it can be. NAPA can lead bringing our industry even closer together. We can continue to strengthen this formidable force.
3. What do you anticipate will be the most challenging part of your job, and why do you think it will be a challenge in this economy or in this industry, etc.?
Finding the most effective use of my time will be a challenge, as it always is. In my mind, being where you can make the most difference and bring the most value is the key to success in this position. In this industry, we have so many interesting people and places, I am really looking forward to meeting more of the great people and seeing the places we work.
4. Could you share with our readers an example of a challenge you’ve overcome in the past and how you overcame it?
I’ve been asked to perform many different roles at Lane over my career at this great company. The key, I’ve found, is to recognize that it takes the input of many people to develop a good plan and then execute it effectively. It is an honor and a challenge to be the 2015 NAPA Chairman and be a part of this strong team promoting the advantages of asphalt.