Meany Asphalt & Construction in Pisgah Forest, N.C., got its start in 2006 when owner John Meany took an early retirement after working for 20 years as a linesman for the local power company.
“The way all this came about was that my next-door neighbor Theron McCall was in the grading business,” Meany explained. “He and I had talked about the possibility of me joining the business as a partner. After I opted for early retirement, we finalized our partnership and on Theron’s suggestion we expanded the business to include paving. The logic was that the grading business was saturated in our part of the state, but there were very few paving contractors.”
The partnership began in May 2006. Shortly after, it took a different direction.
“In December of 2006 Theron came to me and said, ‘John, I hate to pave,’” Meany explained. At that point, the two amicably dissolved the partnership and Meany bought out the paving side of the business.
“We decided that I would take the paving part and open my own company, and he would take the grading, and we split the partnership up with no hard feelings,” Meany explained. “In fact, we actually still share an office, an office manager and a shop, but we have two separate companies.”
After a couple of years of working with his original equipment, Meany knew it was time to trade, and he called Mark Glass at ACS Volvo to see what was available.
“Mark said he didn’t have anything in my size,” Meany said. “They had bigger equipment for interstate work, but nothing in the 15,000 to 20,000 pound range.
But he said he would look into it.”
Glass found a possible paver with a Mauldin model. The two took a trip to the Mauldin facility in Greenville, S.C., and were impressed with the entire operation. As a result, Meany got his paver, and ACS Volvo now carries the Mauldin line of equipment.
“The Mauldin folks came to my site several times and actually helped with the training process,” Meany said. “Paving is not just a matter of dumping a load of asphalt and taking a bull dozer or a skid steer and rolling it out. There’s a lot to know, and everybody’s been very helpful.”
Meany noted that he’s always been a hands-on person. While he was in high school, he actually worked for a grading outfit for about three years before he began with the power company. During that time, he learned to weld.
“In the wintertime when it’s often too cold to pave, I did a lot of welding…that’s kind of where I cut my teeth,” he said. “I actually kept up with that on the side while I worked for the power company. I have an office and shop at my house, and I welded for several contractors in my area. I still do it to this day. I’ve never stopped.”
Meany has two sons. Beau is a senior in high school, and Brett is a freshman.
“Beau loves the paving business,” he said. “He’s been very much a part of it for the last three or four years. He works while he’s not in school, and plans to attend a university close by, get a business degree and one day take over the business. Brett is part of it too and is getting his feet wet. That’s one of the reasons I looked at taking an early out from the power company. I wanted to go into business and hopefully have something for my kids to walk into and take over.”
Meany explained that the company’s work area spans about a 50-mi. (80.4 km) radius in order that he and his nine employees can be home every night. His half million dollar equipment base includes the Mauldin 1750 C Paver, an 8,000-lb. roller, a 4,000-lb. roller, motorgrader, skid steer, dump trucks, various pickup trucks and trailers.
He noted that he doesn’t do highway projects, but instead specializes in jobs such as subdivision roads, driveways and parking lots.
“We really focus on two to three day projects,” he said. “And that can be anything from a very simple inexpensive job to one that is more complicated and costs several hundred thousand dollars. We work in the private sector as well as for local municipalities.”
In each of the last two years, the company has grossed more than $1.5 million per year.
“For a new company, that’s good,” Meany said. “What it takes is to put your head down and plow on. I’m going to make it work even through tough times, and it’s all because I want to make this company the best that I can. Everybody knows how the economy is today, and so far, so good. I’ve kept a backlog, and my guys have worked every day that we could work. The only thing that kept us from working is weather. We have not missed a day because of not having something to do. I think a lot of that has to due with doing quality work at reasonable prices, and taking pride in the work. I keep my trucks clean, and I keep my equipment looking good. Maintenance is a big issue with us, and we are well known in the community. Our guys are friendly to everybody, and we make it a point to go back and sweep up after ourselves when we’ve done a job. Quality control is a big issue, too. For me, the job’s not finished until the customer is completely satisfied. We want to please our customers.”
Meany noted that times have changed in the last two years. When he first got started, there were two or three contractors his size bidding on jobs. Today, contractors who typically bid only on the largest jobs are competing for the mid-sized and smaller jobs.
“It’s not uncommon to have 12 or 13 contractors with anywhere from two to 100 employees bidding on all the same jobs, he said. “It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there.”
Meany is hopeful that the economy will turn around and start coming back, and that most companies will be able to pull through the recession.
“In reality, the economy is going to sort out a lot of companies,” he said. “I can’t say that I’m not going to be one of them. I don’t know. No one can predict the future, but I think success amounts to smarts, hard work and making good decisions. You gotta be smart in business. I hope everybody makes it.”