It all started with two boys placing makeshift signs on the street, nailed together from old lumber, spray-painted with T&K in black.
It wasn't pretty, but crudely effective. The 'T' was for Tony Heffernan. The 'K' was for Kevin Gosnell. They were two childhood friends in the town of Hanover, Mass., spending college summers sealcoating driveways to pay their college tuitions.
In order to raise funds for their enterprise and buy materials, they sold an old vending machine for a $600 profit. This paid for a used truck, some sealcoating supplies and a new name, T&K Sealing.
Each time Tony and Kevin sealed a driveway, their signs would mark the job publicly announcing who they were. This was the first attempt at amateur advertising, and people noticed. Driveway by driveway, a new business was launched and two young men soon paid for college.
After three summers, the new college grads turned T&K Sealing into T&K Asphalt. Driveways were now parking lots, sealcoating became paving and a commercial division was born.
“T&K was founded in 1987. We started out sealcoating driveways in the summers and, over time, started to patch and pave,” said CEO and President Kevin Gosnell. “Today, the company has over 200 employees and does everything there is to do on a parking lot.”
One of the largest asphalt companies in New England, Gosnell is still in charge 26 years later. The CEO has added site work to his ever-expanding list of services.
The company claims an average sales growth of 40 percent each year for the last four years.
“It was hard at first,” said Gosnell. “I learned the business by doing and research, migrating from sealcoat to patch and then pave. It was gradual and, over time, I learned the business and techniques. We sealcoat, line stripe, patch, grind, grade, pave, put in concrete, make curbs and do small site work.”
Clients range from multi-million-dollar real estate companies with properties throughout New England, to Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass. to Harvard University in Cambridge.
Headquartered in Whitman, Mass., T&K Asphalt has offices in Derry, N.H., Cranston, R.I., and Sandwich, Mass., in lower Cape Cod.
5,000 Projects Per Year
“We have grown through training programs at our Asphalt academy. Most of our talent is home-grown and we believe heavily in training and development,” said Gosnell. “We have about 200 employees we are in our 26th year. We have added a construction division, doing small site work and improvements. We focus on items that are needed to support a parking lot like drainage improvements, concrete, lighting, landscape and traffic islands, etc.”
Gosnell said that his company does about 5,000 projects per year. Major projects have included sealcoating and repairing the massive parking lots around Gillette Stadium, home of the New England Patriots and the New England Revolution in Foxboro, Mass., and completing the lots around large residential communities like The Hills in Wayland, Mass.
“Also, we just completed six National Grid [a power company] sites,” said Gosnell.
Most of his projects involve the flat land. However, this is not always the case.
“The most unusual project was when we needed to secure rock ledge that was falling onto a parking lot,” said Gosnell. “We drilled netting into rock ledge that trapped the rocks and prevented them from falling onto the lot and destroying it. Other than that, most of our jobs stay in our wheel house.”
The company's motto is, “Your Thankful Partner.”
“We pledge to do whatever is humanly possible to satisfy the customer,” said Gosnell. “We know that our service is our profession and ask that the customer trust us.”
Testimonials abound on the company's web site from some of the most invested corporations in New England, including Harvard University.
“We are thrilled to work with for such a high-profile customer [as Harvard],” said Gosnell. “But we treat all of our customers like they are VIPs. Our best effort is given to everyone — large or small.”
Another satisfied customer is Unicorn Realty, a commercial real estate company that owns and manages 1.2 million sq. ft. of industrial, retail and office space on the South Shore of Massachusetts.
With more than 250 commercial tenants using those lots, it is imperative to keep them paved and smooth.
“When I have a project with a certain degree of difficulty, I always call T&K Asphalt,” said Brian Murphy, Unicorn Realty's vice president. “I have complete trust in their ability, the quality of their work and their people.”
“I've experienced an excellent level of service by the sales rep with the evaluation of parking lot conditions, solid support in the back office for all scheduling and any problems that arise, and quick turnaround on any repair or redo once the project has been completed,” said Johnna Barry, a property manager of Prologis Property Corp. “T&K provides a high level of customer service with ample office staff to address all needs. T&K has turned around projects in lightning speed when need be.”
“We have stayed in business because of our strong customer base. We have done work for many of the same people over the last 20 years,” said Gosnell. “They are what has helped us weather the storm.
“Also, we have added to and grown all our product lines and improved our sales and marketing efforts,” said Gosnell. “We actually have grown 20 percent over the recession. We have a tremendous group of people at the company that care. We have an amazing team.”
Spreading the Word
Kevin Gosnell's business, with four locations, has gotten a tad bit more sophisticated since the days the 19-year-old painted crude wooden signs and stuck them on lawns. But one basic tenet of advertising has never changed.
“Word of mouth is everything,” said Gosnell. “We win or lose based on what our clients say. You are only as good as your last job, no matter how big or small it is.”
The company owns all of the machinery in its fleet of equipment and it has more than 12 grading and paving crews. They complete all projects and work themselves, a finish site contractor for commercial paving, sealcoating, line striping, color coating, concrete foundations, construction, granite curbing, milling and snow removal.
Gosnell has three sons, but is not sure if any of his boys will enter the business when they grow up.
But for those young men and women thinking about the heavy iron industry as a trade he said, “I would recommend to someone to find out what your brand represents and what you can do to make sure you protect it. In the end, all you really have is your reputation. I wouldn't bite off too much. I would do what I think I can do the best, and make it happen.”
For more information, go to www.tkasphalt.com or call 1/877-tkasphalt.