Aug 30, 2021
Keep Calm and Pave On
BY Sandy Lender
It’s been quite some time since I’ve regaled you with song lyrics. If you’ll be so kind as to indulge me here, I’ll share this little ditty from Foreigner, of which the recent National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA) midyear meeting vibe reminded me:
Gotta work, make it urgent, urgent, urgent…
Want it quick, make it urgent, urgent, emergency
Urgent, urgent, emergency
It’s not Pulitzer material, is it? But the sense of urgency was palpable at the meeting July 19-21 in Nashville to the point I was hearing that refrain in my brain.
- Companies are trying to complete mergers and acquisitions as quickly as possible.
- Companies are ordering multiples of parts and components to ensure they have items on the shelf for emergency repairs when supplies run out in the marketplace and back-ordering equipment that OEMs are hustling to deliver before end-of-season.
- Companies are trying to find able-bodied workers to facilitate bidding on and completing projects before a trust fund goes dry.
- Companies are trying to fast-track permits and build new plants before regulations change. Again.
- Companies are beating down the doors of representatives to impart the message of transportation needs and the definition of infrastructure before Congress loses interest. Again.
- On a personal note, I’ve received emails asking me to place articles in issues of magazines that are already in the mail. Earlier in July, I’d given a workshop to a group where a truck driver asked for tips on how to decompress or distract himself from the unending stress of the job.
You might ask what’s going on out there to cause such urgency among your peers. I have my theories, which border on political discussions we don’t need to get into here. I’ll tell you this: the asphalt industry has a lot of work to take care of now and into future construction seasons. Will it remain as “easy” to bid on projects in 2022 as it was in 2021? Doubtful. That doesn’t mean anyone is giving up the industry to alternate pavement choices that are ridiculously carbon heavy.
Instead, I want to encourage our industry to take a note from Winston Churchill: Keep calm and carry on.
If you’re feeling bombarded from many sides, take a breath. Hold a meeting. Make a phone call to someone who understands your business. Then hop back in the saddle, asphalt cowboy (or cowgirl). We’ve got a lot of work to do, whether the companies down the road a pace just merged or not.
While it’s wise to keep an eye on what competitors in your marketplace are up to, it’s also wise to keep your focus on your own business. You do you. Keep training. Keep working hard. Keep recruiting fresh blood to the workforce. Keep spreading the message of asphalt’s good environmental stewardship and perpetual pavement strength. Keep calm and pave on.