RRT Hauling Grows into Paving
BY Sandy Lender
RRT Hauling got its start customizing cars before getting into hauling. After 20 years in business, the company has expanded to offer asphalt paving.
This October will mark 20 years in business for Nakita (Nikki) Bogus, president of RRT Hauling in Birmingham, Alabama. Something interesting about those 20 years is her willingness to grow beyond the original business plan. You see, RRT is an acronym for Rims, Radios and Tint—the holding company under which RRT works—and it ties into the asphalt industry a couple different ways.
The work Bogus started with included hauling and delivering cars that her company had restored and/or customized. She was using Waggoner to ship cars back to customers, which could cost up to $3,900 per vehicle to put on a trailer. She looked into getting her own tow truck, which led to another good decision. When helping a customer in Jacksonville, Florida, who needed trees cleared and dirt moved to access the vehicle to be restored, the customer asked her why she didn’t just buy her own haul trucks.
“Adding insurance was minimal,” Bogus said.
That attitude is refreshing. She looked into the options for growing and took the plunge. “I bought my first dump truck in 2016, going into 2017.”
It immediately paid off. A large construction company headquartered in Birmingham gave her a contract and work increased. “Within two months, I had five dump trucks.”
Today, she states she has 35 drivers with their commercial driver license (CDL). “The first dump truck was purchased in 2016 and we have three dedicated for asphalt and concrete. There is total: six trucks. I have a total CDL driver count as of today: 35.”
Hauling asphalt mix to projects led to the next step in her business growth—paving.
“We have done work for different municipalities and done some bridge work,” Bogus said. “The evolution of what we’ve done is incredible.”
She shared that the team started with small asphalt jobs. It should be obvious, though, that small is not where RRT is comfortable.
“One of the major projects we worked on was for the water utilities company as a third-party vendor, but when the project manager came out asking questions, I was onsite at the time, and his reply was why did I hire them if you have the equipment and people performing the work. He stated that I could just bid these same jobs. So from that point on, we continued bidding projects for that company.”
“The second major project, I had the opportunity to work on the very first self-contained solar grid laying asphalt for a power company.” That project in 2017 was the first of its kind for the southern company, she remembers, and would later be implemented in other areas.
Bogus has advanced with both the hauling and paving aspects of her company through word of mouth and keeping her company equipment in the field. It’s not uncommon for a new, potential client to stop her and ask if her team can perform a job. She finds projects to bid on through her faith and hard work.
“I must say that I’m a very spiritual person,” Bogus shared. “I pray about each project first and ask God to guide me when looking at each project even down to the final number to perform the work. The avenue of getting projects can be very tough, but if you can participate in different workshops, community relationship projects, and keep your eyes on the normal pipelines, then success will come.”
She explained that building a good reputation is vital. “If a [subcontractor] company is trying to be found by major asphalt contractors, you have to position your company to be seen by setting the company up properly.”
In that vein, she has a website for advertising, but she has found that it can take away the one-on-one interactions of relationship-building. “People like to engage in conversation, not just look at a website. It would be different if this was e-commerce. With that being said, most of my advertisement is by word of mouth. What I like most about this aspect of my company is that I really enjoy meeting and talking with people. And in this business, I like the fact it is male-dominated, which gives me an opportunity as a black, Native American female to shine and allow our work to speak for itself. But more importantly, it gives me a platform to show others that anything is possible if you work hard.”
Her success has resulted in the need for more workers, of course, and Bogus finds her workforce is coming to her.
Hire the Best
“When I first started laying asphalt and pouring concrete, I would hire from people I knew or my prior customer base off my other business ventures. As the company has grown, my hiring comes from word of mouth and Indeed, but I interview all potential hires myself. I allow my natural instinct to determine ‘yes’ or ‘no’.”
Her process for hiring starts with a phone conversation. “I’ve learned to listen for key words that let me know they’re a driven person. I allow people to say what they need to say and that lets me find out where they’re efficient. I treat it like behavior analysis because I have a background in the medical field.”
At this time, Bogus says she doesn’t have a lot of people under the age of 35 in her employ, but those who are new to her company or new to the industry, get paired up with a veteran worker. “I put them with somebody seasoned. I match their demeanor with one of my older guys for mentoring and training.”
What she has found, and what the recruiters at Indeed have told her, is “there’s a boatload of people who want to work for Nikki.”
With a workforce loyal to RRT Hauling and a growing hauling and paving business, Bogus has goals to hire more managers and exceed the $10 million mark in 2019. “I give honor where it’s due,” she said. “And I treat every job like it’s just as important to me as it is to the client, because it is important to me. If I was not doing asphalt, concrete and hauling, then I would be focused on expanding my automotive restoration and custom audio shop. I have a passion for people and the artwork of the mind. I enjoy when people come to me and I develop their abstract idea into a priceless piece of art they can drive and enjoy.”
Right now, she and the team she’s building also create the art her end-users can drive on and enjoy.