Ronald R. Wagner & Co. LP: Paving the Way Forward
- Written by: Ronald R. Wagner & Co. LP: Paving the Way Forward
- Produced by: Ronald R. Wagner & Co. LP: Paving the Way Forward
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
Every June, once the last high-school bell rang to start the summer in Kendalia, Texas, Clay Wagner would go straight to work for his father at Ronald R. Wagner & Co. LP (RRWC). “I’ve worked for my dad since I was about 13 years old,” according to Clay, who has worked his way up to general manager of the business.
RRWC is a family-owned and -operated paving contracting firm that has been around since 1991. The company is based in Kendalia, but operates around half of Texas. It performs highway/street and bridge construction, but specializes in asphalt seal coating. “We are one of the leading seal coaters in the state of Texas. Ninety percent of our business is for the State Highway department, the other 10 percent is for major cities like San Angelo, Odessa, Andrews and Lovett,” reports Clay. “We seal coat most of the roads in South Texas through West Texas.”
The entire state is hurting as a result of the economy, but RRWC is literally paving the way forward. The firm is always staying ahead of the curve by updating with the latest equipment, diversifying its operation where possible, keeping the customers happy, and consistently demonstrating that RRWC can do the job quicker and better than the competition.
Protecting Against the Elements
Seal asphalt coating is one of RRWC’s specialties, and it’s a vital service that often goes unrecognized. It’s a process that can save an owner of hot mix asphalt tens of thousands of dollars. Asphalt is undoubtedly something of a miracle product – its complex mixture of thousands of chemicals provides excellent adhesive and waterproofing properties. However, as anyone who has seen a road go from a rich smooth black to a cracked grey can attest, it has its weaknesses. There is an opening within the asphalt molecular structure that allows weather, salt and chemicals to break it down over time.
The seal coatings that RRWC offers serve as a barrier to protect pavement from such damage. In fact, the estimated savings of someone who owns 10,000 square yards of asphalt pavement and maintains a seal coat regularly are $127,000 over 15 years. Especially in Texas, where the weather can be hot and dry and a spread out population means a lot of highway driving, an expert seal coating is a necessity.
While RRWC may specialize in under the radar aspects of paving contracting like seal coatings, the company is not above the occasional more prominent displays of its talents. “We hold records for the most asphalt shot in one day by a single crew in five different districts of the state. We also hold the state record where we shot 191,000 gallons in 2008,” Clay says.
Despite the record, Clay is not one to sit on his laurels, and he’s always pushing for an even more increasingly impressive outcome. “We were trying to go for 200,000 in one day. But we caught a rainstorm and lost 45 minutes,” he says, a bit disappointed – but only in the weather, never in his experienced, enthusiastic crew.”It’s because of our dedicated and skilled employees that we were able to set those records.”
Weathering the Economic Storm
“Since then things have changed,” Clay says, acknowledging that the post 2008/financial crisis world has been more challenging for RRWC. The state of Texas especially is hurting. Clay says that 50 percent of state construction work has been cut, and everyone in the business, including RRWC, has had to lower prices.
“The economic downturn has affected us. We’ve been very fortunate getting work, because a lot of competitors are only getting two-and-a-half to three months worth of work,” says Clay, feeling fortunate that the company has been able to stay afloat. “On the other side of that, we had to lower our costs to actually get the bidding numbers, just to have something to do. That’s the downside of it. I think we’ll be alright, we’ll still make a profit. Things will be a little tight next winter, but we’ll be fine.”
In response the company has made sure to both get the most technologically advanced equipment and expand the range of services it offers in order to set themselves apart from competition. “We recently bought a crusher,” Clay says. “And we’ve been going into other avenues of construction work to find new income. In these hard times we just try to diversify.”
Diversifying the business is RRWC’s way of seal coating the company from the current economic storm. Clay is confident that the business will pick up again as soon more money starts coming into the state. With a loyal group of clients and a commitment to quality, the road ahead for Ronald R. Wagner & Co. LP looks clear and well paved with opportunities.
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