Contractor Achieves Goal, Expands Business as Sons Come on Board
When Shane Barrington was a high school sophomore in 1979, he told his dad, Ron, he wanted to do two things when he graduated. At the time, his family, originally from Texas, was ranching in Oklahoma after Ron sold the asphalt paving company he owned.
"One was to move back to Texas and the second was to run my own asphalt business," recalled Shane, who founded Northeastern Pavers with Ron and is President of the company. "I grew up watching and helping my dad, so I guess asphalt was in my blood. I couldn't see myself doing anything else."
Shane is passing the legacy on to his sons - Cody and Marc, Vice Presidents; and Casey, Asphalt Plant Manager. They are now part owners of the Granbury, Texas, -based firm. Another son, Caleb, is a full-time employee in the asphalt plant's lab where he designs and tests mixes. He will also gain ownership in the near future. Ron also retired from Northeastern Pavers in 1995.
Shane and his father actually started the business while Shane was still in high school. They performed small tasks such as seal coating, as well as paving driveways and parking lots, with just a few pieces of equipment. After graduation in 1981, Shane landed a project in Texas where he seal coated residential streets for the city of North Richland Hills.
"We could not have had a worse start," Shane recounted. "We had everything ready, then it rained for nearly two weeks straight. We sat in a hotel thinking it had to break some time. This was a difficult introduction to Texas."
Increase in TxDOT work
Adding to the early misery was a slow economy at the time, so prospects were limited. Shane took anything he could get, working for private individuals, developers and municipalities alike.
"Perseverance paid off eventually," said Shane. "In the late 1980s we landed TxDOT (Texas Department of Transportation) contracts. At the same time and during the early 1990s, we were doing all the seal coating for a large developer, which was close to 95 percent of our business. I realized that I had too many eggs in one basket, so I started looking for more opportunities with the TxDOT, mainly as a sub, as well as other markets and services."
In the late 1990s, Northeastern Pavers was awarded more than $16 million worth of seal-coating contracts for TxDOT as a general contractor. The company successfully completed assignments for the Lubbock and San Angelo districts.
"I decided that general contracting for the TxDOT was the right avenue for us, and, for the most part, that has been our niche ever since," said Barrington. "I made a few mistakes along the way, but I learned from them, expanded the business and we became a more solid, stable company."
Today, Northeastern Pavers continues to provide seal coating. In addition, it mills and lays asphalt for large, heavy highway contracts. Asphalt comes from its plant in Granbury, known as Northeastern Asphalt. The Barrington's trucking company, Northeastern Transportation, delivers hot mix to projects and also hauls asphalt millings.
Northeastern Pavers does seal coating across the state and has contracts with several transportation districts. It paves in roughly a 75-mile radius of Granbury.
"From a paving standpoint, we seek opportunities that involve milling old pavement and putting down new," said Casey. "Total rehab projects with subgrade prep is not in our interest, because they are just too slow for us. We want to get in and get out quickly."
Expertise comes from a staff of approximately 112 people, including Shane's brother Chuck, who works in the field on one of three crews. In addition to the Barringtons, key management personnel include Chief Financial Officer Jamie Barnes, Project Director Suellen Wooldridge, Accounts Payable/Payroll Director Missy Mussetter and Operations Director Lisa Lawson.
Field crews have carried out numerous large highway projects such as the $12 million seal-coating job for the Amarillo District that involved putting down 2.8 million gallons of seal coat and 60,000 tons of rock during a two-month period. Northeastern Pavers recently accomplished its biggest paving job with 90,000 tons of asphalt for what's known as the Somervell 67 Project.
"Between general contracting and a bit of subcontracting, we usually have about five projects going at any one time," said Caleb. "In a typical year, we put down approximately 200,000 tons of asphalt and complete about $20 million in seal coating. We can do that because we have an excellent group of employees. They are experienced, hard-working and conscientious about doing the job right. Nearly every public paving project we do has a bonus tied to it based on the quality of material and the density of it on the road. We consistently achieve those bonuses."
Wirtgen products improve production, speed
Northeastern Pavers bought its first mill, a Wirtgen W 2200, about 10 years ago. It continues to use that along with a W 220i and W 250i the company purchased within the past two years from Kirby-Smith Machinery with the help of Territory Manager Ron Weaver.
"Longevity is an attribute we take into consideration when buying equipment, and the Wirtgen W 2200 definitely proved itself," said Marc. "We recently replaced the gearbox, and other than that, there hasn't been much done to the mill. When we looked at the newer machines, we considered trading it in, but decided it was best to keep it and use it in tandem with the W 220i, which we bought first. Each mills a half-lane width.
"With a lot of TxDOT activity coming up, we thought it was a good time to invest in a larger machine, so we added the W 250i, which mills up to 12 feet or a full lane," he added. "Our production with it is unlike anything we've seen to this point. We're milling at 22 feet per minute. The other mills are not far behind at 18 to 20 feet."
Northeastern Pavers relies on Hamm GRW 280i pneumatic rollers in its seal-coating operations for several reasons, according to Cody. "We believe they are the fastest in the industry as far as ground speed, bar none. They have excellent visibility. You can see all four corners of the machine from any operator chair position. The Hamm rollers have a tighter turning radius than the competition, allowing us to turn around in the middle of a highway. Additionally, they are low profile, so we can haul them on tri-axle trailers. We own two and rent five more during seal-coating season."
The Barringtons call on Kirby-Smith Machinery Rental Sales Rep Jacky Miller to rent the Hamm rollers. "Our relationship with Kirby-Smith began several years ago when we rented some Wirtgen stabilizers, and it has expanded since then because they take excellent care of us on sales and rentals, as well as with parts and service," said Shane. "Ron, Jacky and the entire Kirby-Smith team are great to work with."
The sky's the limit
Shane sees a bright future for Northeastern Pavers. He says he will retire within a few years, and his sons will fully take the reins.
"They have a great potential," Shane said. "Each has their own area they oversee, and no one is competing to be the top dog. They are hard-working, but maybe more importantly, they are honest and genuinely care about delivering quality results. I foresee a future where Northeastern Pavers has a second asphalt plant, additional crews and a larger trucking fleet. I may be fishing somewhere when it happens, but I believe if the boys and staff want something to happen, they have the vision and drive to do it. Asphalt is in their blood, too."