Joe’s Paving has been smoothing things out in north San Diego County since 1972, and the business continues to thrive under former techie Sean Repko, who purchased the company in 2001.
“Yeah, it made a lot of sense to me,” said a smiling Repko of going from a CEO in the tech industry to a novice owner of a small paving company.
Repko started his career at Xerox and would go on to establish and serve as CEO of his own tech companies, including Exsel, Inc. (1983-1993), which rated in the Inc. 500 (an annual list of the fastest-growing private companies in the U.S.) for 1989 and 1991. Exsel was eventually bought by another company.
In 2001, after a long career in the tech industry, Repko decided that he wanted to go “low-tech.”
“I started looking for a company to buy and one of the companies that I looked at was Joe’s Paving,” said Repko. “I knew nothing about the business but I’m an entrepreneur. I worked a deal with Joe (Rodriguez, the owner). I said, ‘Listen, I’ll buy the company, (but) let me work with you for 60 days to see if I can do it.'”
Repko realized that he could handle the business and promptly worked on boosting his knowledge and expanding the company, which had just eight employees when he purchased it from Rodriguez.
“I had to learn, get my licenses, and now I’m a civil engineer,” said Repko. “And, we’ve got close to 50 employees now.”
Repko said he didn’t think about changing the name because “everybody knew Joe” and it’s an easy name for customers to remember. Repko also kept staff.
“The vast majority of the people that were with me when I started – that were here with Joe – are still here, and I think that says something,” said Repko. “And a lot of their kids that are now grown up work here. We try to hire quality people and to retain them.”
Joe’s Paving focuses on both commercial and residential work. Services offered include patching, sealing, crack fill, concrete work, grading trench repairs, striping excavation, and, of course, new paving.
“I kind of put municipal in with the commercial end, but we do it equally, in a sense a customer is a customer,” said Repko. “You provide good service. If there is an issue – if something doesn’t get done correctly – we go back. That sends a message to our customers. They like the fact that we don’t take the money and disappear.”
Commercial jobs include storage centers, mobile home parks, commercial building parking lots, strip malls, high rise apartment buildings, and resorts.
“I’ve got an excellent relationship with the Grand Del Mar,” said Repko. “We did all the roads. Those are the types of customers that are good reference sellers. I can tell people, ‘we did that work.'”
Repko said the majority of residential jobs are maintenance.
“Things like sealing the driveway, keeping it looking nice,” said Repko of the most-frequently requested service from home owners. “If they haven’t maintained it for four or five years, it starts to crack and look old and aged.”
In an effort to provide the best work in timely fashion, Repko continually invests in equipment.
“We have new pavers, including one we just bought,” said Repko. “They are close to $450,000 a pop, so they’re not cheap. But we invest in that, and the reason is we become far more efficient. I mean, I can go and bid a job that will take me two days, whereas my competitor will be there for a week. Our whole concept is, ‘get in and get out.’”
An earned reputation of high quality work and efficiency, combined with a square price, keep the crew at Joe’s Paving busy.
“We’re not the most expensive and we have to be efficient because we’re slammed (with business),” said Repko. “We’re three weeks to a month out. Certainly, if I have an emergency job, I can move things around, but other than that, we give our customer a date and we go in and do our thing.”
Repko said making sure the customer is satisfied is the ultimate goal and key to a successful business.
“If you do a good job, they’ll tell their friends, and if you do a lousy job, they’re going to tell their friends 10 times,” said Repko. “If there is a problem, you deal with it. You want the customer happy.”
To contact Joe’s Paving, call (760) 749-0519 or visit www.pavingamerica.com.