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The high cost of petroleum has made asphalt expensive, so this is a terrific time for concrete paving to capture some of the asphalt market.

With the price of gasoline at more than $4 per gallon, I'm sure your customers, like mine, are finding alternative means of getting information to suppliers. I thought of this recently after I spent $90 at my favorite gas station.

You've heard that every cloud has a silver lining. There is more opportunity for concrete paving now than ever before. Several years ago, I wrote a story comparing the cost of asphalt to concrete. And the savings are even greater now. Although the price of cement has also escalated, it hasn't risen nearly as much as petroleum products.

I traveled to Decatur, Tenn., recently to offer some ides on solving a cracking problem in elevated slabs on a parking garage. Summer weather and high-strength concrete are bedfellows that always need attention. You just have to remind the contractors that they are not conducive to each other without a little help. Also, putting the rebar too close to the top of the slab will get you some squiggly lines that cause problems.

Concrete versus asphalt

While visiting with Dave, the producer's quality control manager, we discussed concrete parking lots and paving. I had produced a presentation that included some attractive comparisons to asphalt, even showing how much diesel fuel could be saved with concrete placing equipment versus asphalt placing equipment.

Dave explained they've spent quite a bit of money training their sales people how to “flip” parking lots from asphalt to concrete. His owner has made a pretty enticing offer of a bonus price per yard commission for every parking lot they convert.

Since then, I've talked to other producers that are offering different variations of the same idea. With the downturn in the residential market and the continuing availability of commercial projects, now is a good time to really push this idea.

In Tennessee alone, some smaller airports are planning new runway projects. Because the asphalt runways have deteriorated over the years, and the long-term cost savings of concrete pavement, more smaller airport authorities are considering concrete.

I strongly suggest you get involved in a concrete paving program wherever you are. Talk your owner or sales manager into giving an incentive for each parking lot you “flip.”

This will accomplish two things. It will help you with your sales and production. And it will also give you some extra money for whenever you fill up your own tank.

—jimambrose@aol.com