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Wayne Leiser, CEO of Colorado Asphalt Services, says that in June 2008 he saw a "tsunami" coming into his industry.

 New construction was coming to a halt," he says. "Contractors would say, ‘We're glad you got the bid, but we don't have the funding.'"

Leiser says he met with his management team - just three people, including himself - and they came up with an aggressive plan. They met with the heads of departments and gave them two options - they could take a 10 percent pay cut across the board, or they would have to cut 10 percent of the work force.

They voted, and it was unanimous that no one would lose their job.

Leiser also worked on making small cuts to the company's spending; employees who were given clean workshirts every day were scaled back to every other day. The annual holiday party was canceled.

But in November he got good news - it seemed the scrimping had paid off, and it looked like the company was actually going to make money. He reinstated the holiday party and waited until that night to tell all of the employees of his surprise.

"I got up and thanked the work force for working so hard and doing what they did to make sacrifices. And then I told them that every single person in the company gets an additional week's pay," he says.

Despite that success, Leiser says that there's still a hard road ahead, and he's worked to diversify Colorado Asphalt's offerings. Though the company offers a full range of asphalt and concrete services, as well as producing its own asphalt, he also bought the company its own concrete truck, instead of hiring a middleman.

Colorado Asphalt Services is also one of the few producers of EZ Street, the world's only permanent cold asphalt. Typically asphalt's cold-weather mix is a temporary fix, but a company discovered a new polymer that allows the oil to bond to itself when a certain amount of pressure is applied. Once the bond is formed, the asphalt is permanent.

"When we fix a pothole, that fix will last longer than the asphalt around it," Leiser says.

Leiser says the EZ Street founders are extremely choosy in partnering with asphalt companies, and that they won the contract because of their business rewards, reputation for being ethical, and involvement in community service.

Colorado Asphalt Services recently developed the Heart Friendly Parking Program. The company partners with merchants and offers to paint a heart in certain stalls farther from the stores, encouraging patrons to walk a few extra steps each day.

-Jennie Dorris

 

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