RS Asphalt Invests to Seal with Success
RS Asphalt expands its business offerings with the purchase of a new SealMaster tank. Here, we talk about a sealcoating job they’ve done with their new tank in 2018.
When a local bank reached out to Casey Greinermiller, president of RS Asphalt Maintenance, Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, Greinermiller jumped at the opportunity to stripe and sweep nine lots and sealcoat another.
He was excited not only to be able to bring another satisfied customer to the full-service pavement maintenance company, but also because this job would require the company’s new 575-gallon tanker trailer from SealMaster, Sandusky, Ohio.
The new tank was an investment Greinermiller made last November after having to turn down too much work because he couldn’t offer water-based sealcoating services. The bank lot he was asked to sealcoat had previously been sealed with a water-based sealer, so his oil-based sealer wouldn’t set atop the water layer.
“If I would have told them I could stripe but not seal, they probably would have gone elsewhere,” Greinermiller said. “But since I could do everything, that one call led to a lot of work and a satisfied new customer.”
Here to There
RS Asphalt Maintenance began in 1977 as Robert Stanley Asphalt Maintenance Inc. In 2015, Greinermiller purchased the business with intentions to grow the company and expand its services.
RS Asphalt Maintenance is a full-service pavement maintenance contractor, offering line striping, residential and commercial sealing, crack repair, patching and infrared seamless patching. However, the company only offered oil-based sealing in a market that Greinermiller estimates is 80 percent water-based and only 20 percent oil-based.
The asphalt oil sealer Greinermiller uses is called LN-11 Equinox, comprised of 65 to 75 percent asphalt and 20 to 25 percent Gilsonite, and mineral spirits.
“That meant I was turning down a lot of jobs because I didn’t offer water-based sealing,” he said. Whether a customer requested water-based sealer, specifications called for sealer with sand mixed within the sealer, or the lot had previously been sealed with water-based sealer, it was a frustrating situation. “I’ve always wanted to offer both types of sealers because I wanted to offer my customers options.”
Additionally, Greinermiller wanted to advertise his sealcoating services and realized he wouldn’t be able to do that effectively without offering both oil- and water-based sealing. That’s why he decided to buy a new sealer tank.
He chose SealMaster after hearing good things about the company from others in the industry, but also because it was a matter of convenience. “They have a location about an hour from me, so I could go see it and they were able to train me on operating it because it’s a different process than what I’m used to.”
Mike Tarvin, manager of SealMaster’s eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey and southeastern New York regions, assisted Greinermiller, giving him tips for water-based sealing.
“We offer training on all new machines purchased,” Tarvin said. “This includes equipment and application training to help ensure your success early on.”
Tarvin added that water-based sealing can be a bit more complicated from an equipment, maintenance and application standpoint.
“Because water-based sealant manufacturers recommend the addition of sand, it requires equipment that can handle this aggregate,” Tarvin said. Also, water-based machines often require more maintenance. “On water-based rigs, agitator bearings need to be greased, strainer baskets need to be cleaned and ball valves need to be replaced. Also, because the water-based products can freeze, care has to be taken to winterize equipment in northern climates.”
Additionally, Tarvin pointed out that water-based sealant tends to be applied in heavier coats and sometimes two or more coats for greater durability, and that water-based sealants should be applied at temperatures 50 degrees Fahrenheit or rising.
“Water- and oil-based sealing is similar when it comes to ‘best practices,’” Tarvin said. “In general, the transition from using oil to water is not a difficult one.”
Oil and Water
Since the start of the season, Greinermiller estimates he’s used the new tank on dozens of jobs.
“It really opened a lot of doors for me,” he said. “Being able to offer both means I can steer my customers in the right direction based on what’s best for their driveway or parking lot and still have their business.”
For example, he said, some jobs have specifications requiring sand mixed in the sealer for added traction. Oil-based sealer tanks have a different pump system, so sand cannot be added in the same way it can for water-based sealer tanks.
“We do offer a sand option with oil-based, but it isn’t mixed in,” Greinermiller said. “When the sealer is still wet, we dust black sand overtop that sticks to the sealer when dry and gives the same effect. But that’s an added step in the process and an extra person on the job to throw sand.”
Greinermiller adds that the options are comparable in quality, however, the oil-based method does require an additional person.
There’s also, of course, whether the lot had previously been sealed with a water-based sealer, like the bank job above, in addition to customer preference. According to Greinermiller, some customers prefer the oil-based look, which is shiny and dries matte black. “It’s also a bit of a rejuvenator to replenish oxidized asphalt,” he said.
The asphalt emulsion, on the other hand, provides a layer over top of the asphalt and tends to stand up to solvents, such as oil, antifreeze and brake fluid, that might leak out of vehicles.
Same, But Different
RS Asphalt Maintenance also owns two 200-gallon Marathon brand skid tanks mounted on the back of two pickup trucks. Although the spraying process is very similar between RS Asphalt’s oil- and water-based sealer tanks, the maintenance process for the equipment is a bit different.
Because the water-based sealer contains sand, the tank requires filter baskets which need to be kept clean and the sealer must be regularly agitated to keep the sand mixed in. If Greinermiller is sealcoating with the machine a lot, he cleans the filter every other day. Regardless of how often he uses the tank, he’s also sure to agitate the tank daily.
Another difference between his previous workflow and the new one is, when sealing with asphalt emulsion, Greinermiller sprays two coats, whereas he only sprays one coat when applying oil-based sealer. However, since he can work faster with the new machine, it takes about the same amount of time.
Otherwise, the process is very similar.
“My top tip is still attention to detail,” Greinermiller said. “We’re very careful when we’re trimming around sidewalks and we always spray straight lines at the end of the driveway or lot so it looks as nice as we’d want our own property to look.”
Ensuring a clean surface is also of the utmost importance. “That makes a huge difference in adhesion of the sealer,” he said. “If you seal over a dirt spot, nine times out of 10 that’s coming up, and fast. The cleaning process is just as important as the sealing process.”
Greinermiller’s cleaning process is to use one or two nine-horsepower Billygoat push blowers and wire bristle brooms, and, if necessary for small areas where the push blowers cannot go, they use hand blowers.
Benefits in Size and Sealer
In addition to opening up new business, the new tank also makes it a bit easier to get sealer.
“Water-based sealer is more readily available than oil-based,” Greinermiller said. “If I’m on a job in Philadelphia and I can’t drive to Harrisburg to get the oil-based sealer I need, I know I can get my water-based sealer from another supplier.”
RS Asphalt uses SealMaster Polymer Modified MasterSeal for its water-based sealer because it contains no coal tar.
“That’s what I’ve been marketing for years with my oil-based sealing, so I wanted to find a water-based sealer that didn’t contain coal tar,” he said. “I’m not limited to using that type, but I’m happy with it so far.”
Another benefit with the tank he chose is that it expands the size of jobs he’s able to complete.
Since buying the new trailer, Greinermiller placed an advertisement in the local Clipper Magazine offering a discount on any type of sealcoating. The ad has resulted in a number of new leads, particularly on larger jobs like distribution centers and shopping centers. Jobs that he might not have been able to complete with 200-gallon tanks.
“With only 200 gallons, I’m limited in the scope of work I can do with those tanks,” he said. “With the SealMaster trailer, I can pursue slightly larger jobs.” The 575-gallon tank from SealMaster is the largest size tank he’d be able to tow with a regular pickup truck.
“I wanted to be able to hold as much sealer as I could without having to worry about my crew obtaining a different type of license to drive it,” he said. The new tank can also grow with Greinermiller as he expands into larger and larger sealcoating jobs.
“Another thing like about this trailer is that I can purchase a spray bar for the back of the tank, which would enable me to spray 9 or 10 feet wide off the back of the trailer so I could cover a lot more ground and pursue bigger jobs than I normally would,” Greinermiller said.
“Maybe for sealing season 2019,” he added.