Most people will agree that technology changes faster than most of us can keep up. Burch-Lowe, a Georgia equipment dealership, has developed a solution to keep its customers on the cutting edge of the paving industry by hosting paving seminars each year at the company’s headquarters in Mableton, GA.
Mark Howard, customer support representative at Burch-Lowe has conducted these seminars for the past several years. Paving contractors are invited to Mableton to get a first-hand look at paving and compaction techniques from representatives of Blaw-Knox and Ingersoll-Rand.
“The purpose of this seminar,” said Howard, “is to teach and inform operators and technicians of the most up-to-date paving techniques, including setting up the screed and rolling the mat. We also teach new and better ways for paving and paver set-up. The newer paving technologies aren’t being fully utilized by many paving contractors, and our goal is to help them stay informed and get the most of their pavers.”
Each year, Burch-Lowe sends out a mailing to its customers as to when and where the paving school will take place.
“We try to have the seminars in February or March, because the time of the year is better,” Howard said. “Many of the participants are available to attend because the weather creates a downtime.”
This year, however, the class itself was handled a little differently. For demonstration purposes, the mock paving was done on site in the Burch-Lowe parking lot using a sand blend rather than actual asphalt.
“This time, we actually used the equipment and paved with sand that could be rolled and compacted,” explained Howard.
“We tried to simulate actual paving conditions,” said Stan Lamb, district products coordinator with Blaw-Knox and one of this year’s instructors. “We wanted it hands-on to try to get the participants to try out the techniques.”
“We also tried to set up the automatic controls on the equipment to show the benefits of using them,” Lamb continued. “Once the participants realized how the auto controls work, they noticed that these controls were easier than they thought. In addition, we showed the correct way to set up the machinery so it would not only run correctly, but lengthen the machinery’s life.”
Another new feature of the paving seminars this year was the number and size of the classes.
“We wanted smaller, more intimate classes,” said Howard, “so this year we had smaller classes of about 20 people and more of them. It’s easier to teach a class that size, and it allows the classes to be more interactive. At the beginning of each class, we specifically requested that they ask questions and get involved.”
In addition to smaller class size, this year’s seminar also included classes for Burch-Lowe’s Spanish-speaking customers, led by Sergio Oguin, a district product supervisor out of Texas for Ingersoll-Rand and Blaw-Knox.
“This class went very well,” said Oguin. “Most of the participants were very interested and wondered why we hadn’t done something like this before.”
“We taught paving with quality,” Oguin continued. “For example, what kind of adjustments we need to make if we expect smooth, long-lasting, paved road. A lot of folks asked if we were going to have this class again next year.”
“We had a great turnout for all of our classes,” Howard said. “We had between 18 and 20 people per class. This year went better than any year in the past.”
“We let them learn about different types of materials being used and the different techniques involved in each. Of the four-day seminar, two days concentrated on troubleshooting and maintenance, and two days focused on operations.”
“Some customers may not be know the proper way to use the automatic controls and by introducing the customer to the new technologies available, it gives Burch-Lowe a chance to teach them an easier way to pave,” Howard continued.
“The feedback was very positive,” Howard said. “We’re looking forward to next year.”
For more information on the paving seminars at Burch-Lowe, contact Mark Howard at 404/696-7210.