Paving and Sealcoating: For the Best Pavement, Hire the Right People

When it comes to pavement, not all companies are created equal. For one firm in the Richmond area, a solid reputation and straightforward approach are the start of business success.

Pett Paving in Richmond has been installing driveways for more than 20 years and is built on the extensive work of its owner, Mike Pett Sr.

You get what you pay for. The old adage works in many projects, but it’s especially meaningful when it comes to driveways, parking lots and sidewalks. Cheaper isn’t always better, and shoddy work now will cost you more in the long run, says Mike Pett Sr., owner of Pett Paving, 3790 E. Solon Road in Richmond.

While his firm has spent more than a decade paving and sealcoating driveways, Pett has worked in the industry for more than 30 years and has quoted many jobs from consumers who want the best drive but don’t always know how to find it.

The trick is to start with a company that cares about its reputation and the quality of its work. Many a homeowner has been duped by the guy claiming to have extra asphalt or a sealcoating job just down the street.

“If somebody comes up to your door and says they can work for you today, that’s a sign of trouble,” says Pett Sr. “No company has extra materials at the end of the day. If they’re a reputable company, everything is planned out.”

Reputable firms start by sending an estimator like Pett Sr. Typically a week after the customer’s first call, he visits and takes measurements, evaluates the setting and learns about the customer’s needs. His trained eye also recognizes potential needs, such as a wider driveway to prevent ruts in the yard or thicker asphalt for heavy equipment like an RV or trailer. Within a few days, he’ll offer a no-nonsense bid that lays out exactly what his firm is offering, what square footage he’ll cover and what he plans to charge. Not all firms are so straightforward. Some companies prefer to haggle or hide charges.

“My price is my price,” says Pett Sr. “A lot of companies will say something like, ‘I’m putting in this much gravel,’ but then they come back later and say, ‘We need to put in extra gravel and it’s going to cost you extra.’ The only reason my price would change is because the scope of work has changed.”

Once the bid is in hand, try to compare apples-to-apples against other bids, says Pett Sr.

First, look at the amount of gravel being used and the thickness of the compressed asphalt, he adds. Then, take a closer look at the company’s reputation. Search for a website and peruse past jobs. Find out if they have a central office you can visit should a problem arise. Ask if the company is licensed and insured for its work, and ask for references to satisfied customers. Reputable companies are eager to share their best work.

When it comes time to put down money for a job, it’s buyer beware. Pett Paving requires an upfront deposit, with the balance paid off after the job is complete. Less-reputable companies may ask for all or some money upfront and then disappear, but Pett Paving adds an extra customer assurance by cashing the deposit only when the job is a few days out and office manager Cheryl Wasik is in touch with the customer.

“They appreciate that, because they can do whatever they need to make sure their finances are ready,” she says.

Pett Sr. prides himself on a no-hassle bidding process and constant communication with the customer. Where some companies apply pressure, Pett Sr. believes a quality bid speaks for itself.

“Right now, we’re averaging about seven to nine days for an estimate,” he says. “It’s worth the wait, because we have fair pricing and quality work. And we’ll always communicate so you know where things are in the process.”