Paving with Pride
Intercounty Paving Co., Inc. keeps core values in sight
When Trish Spano first began meeting with new customers in the early 2000s, some men would literally walk the other way when they saw her coming. “It took me a few good years to become thick-skinned,” she says.
Today, customers stand up and listen to the President of Intercounty Paving Co., Inc. “Trish will quickly school them on her value. Within a couple of minutes, they know they’re going to learn something new from her,” says Vice President and husband, Scott Spano.
“Back then, I was a woman in a man’s world. I knew the business, but it could be a challenge convincing the client. Twenty years later, clients love to see a woman in this business,” Trish says.
She and Scott head up the asphalt milling and paving company, which serves commercial and municipal customers throughout the Hudson Valley and Connecticut. Headquartered in Carmel, New York, the company typically works with business owners, property managers, condominium boards and highway superintendents.
When asphalt supplier Thalle Industries needed the entrance to their Fishkill headquarters milled and paved, they certainly had their choice of service providers. “All the regional paving contractors get their asphalt, aggregate and concrete from Thalle,” Scott says. “Thalle had their pick of providers, but they came to us and asked us to do the job. It wasn’t a huge project, but the client felt we were the most qualified. It showed a huge amount of trust in the quality of our work.”
According to Trish, clients’ trust stems from her team’s commitment to what forms the heart of the company—its core values of pride, integrity, professionalism and safety. And while they don’t wear this heart on their sleeves, team members do wear it on their vests. “Every work vest is printed with our core values. It keeps them front and center in employees’ minds,” she says.
A Vision of Growth
Intercounty Paving is a third-generation, family-owned business. The company got its start in 1955 when brothers George and Mike Spano opened a small paving business in their hometown of Ardsley, New York. George’s son, Scott, began working for the company as a teenager in the 1970s. In those days, Intercounty Paving primarily served homeowners. “We’d do small jobs, like driveways, by hand with wheelbarrows and rakes,” Scott says.
A ledger from 1956 notes the price of typical jobs. “Here’s an invoice for $383.60, one for $418 and another for $50,” Trish offers. Though the company was well established, Scott had dreams for the local business. “I always knew I wanted to work for Intercounty Paving, but I wanted to grow the company,” Scott says. He got his chance in 1987 when he bought out his uncle, who was looking to retire. “I bought my first paver that year,” he notes. Scott purchased additional equipment and trucks and the small business began to grow.
When George was ready to retire in the late 1990s, Trish was ready to officially join the business. “I had left my job at IBM some years earlier to raise our family. In those early years, I worked in our home office while Scott ran the field crew,” she says. The company began to take on more and more commercial projects.
As the company grew, Trish dipped her toes into sales, but quickly retreated back to bookkeeping. It took an outside adviser to convince her she had a special talent for customer relations. “About 10 years ago, we hired a business coach. We felt like we were running our small family business like a small family business instead of the large corporation that we wanted to be,” she says.
Under the coach’s guidance, the company began to create business processes that gave it the foundation needed for true growth. “Thanks to our business coach, we began doing financial planning, budgeting and sales projections for the first time in our company’s history. It helped our growth tremendously,” Scott says.
And, the business coach encouraged Trish to get back into sales. “Trish is a people person at heart, and she has a talent for selling large, exciting projects,” Scott says. “She could have done a million things in her life and done them all well. We are so blessed to have her working with us.”
A New Generation
Another gamechanger for Intercounty Paving was adding son Tyler to the mix. “Scott and I never steered our children into the family business,” Trish says. But after all those summers spent working at Intercounty Paving, the business was in Tyler’s blood. “Tyler is his father’s son. He has a vision to grow this business even larger.”
During his college years, Tyler moved back to Carmel, finishing out his last two years at a university closer to home, while working part-time at the family business. Once he graduated in 2015, Tyler joined the company full-time as Senior Foreman, bringing with him new and ambitious plans for Intercounty Paving, including entering the municipal arena. “Tyler serves on the milling crew and does sales, hiring, social media and marketing,” Trish says. Additionally, Tyler has shared the company’s learnings on hiring and training by teaching classes at the National Pavement Expo and Conference and World of Asphalt.
“I teach people what to look for in employees, how to attract them, train them and keep them,” Tyler says.
Continuing education has always been a staple of the company, Scott says. “We send employees to the expo to take classes in things like flagging, safely relocating equipment, compaction and management.” Each year, the company arranges for national paving expert John Ball of Top Quality Paving and Training to spend a week at Intercounty Paving’s headquarters training employees in the field. “Our mindset is to keep educating our employees and working with our team to make sure our values remain foremost in their minds,” he adds.
Making Life Easier
Trish notes that before the company hired a business coach, all their time was spent bidding on projects, whether they ended up being profitable or not. “Today, we have a detailed understanding of our overhead costs, the manhours required and the materials needed for a given project. As a result, we bid on jobs that are more profitable for us, like commercial and municipal projects.” And having that detailed understanding of project costs means customers can expect accurate cost estimates. “We don’t just price things based on square footage,” she says. “That detailed estimate means that when the crew gets on-site, they know how long a project should take, the amount of materials needed and equipment best suited for the project, and how many crew members need to be there. It increases our project efficiency.
“Developing the business processes recommended by the business coach wasn’t easy, but we do these things organically now. It makes life easier at the end of the day, and things don’t slip through the cracks,” Trish adds.
Keeping Projects Humming, Clients Happy
The Spanos are quick to credit the work of Intercounty Paving’s team of dedicated employees. “We work with the best in the business and don’t have much turnover,” Trish says. “To me, our employees are family. They support the company’s best interests. You can’t buy that kind of loyalty—it comes from the heart.”
She cites Office Manager Debbie Henry, who joined Intercounty Paving in 2002. “Debbie is the glue that holds everything together.” On-site, Junior Foreman and Safety Coordinator Joe Cindrich ensures employees are meeting the company’s rigorous safety standards. “Construction jobs can be dangerous. Anyone who has worked in asphalt knows the risk involved. We are extremely proud of our safety record and the work Joe does each and every day,” Trish says.
Senior Foreman Terry Finkle keeps projects humming. “Blacktop work is dirty and hot, and the long hours can be rough on morale. Terry is dialed in to what everyone is feeling on the job site and can quickly diffuse situations that could turn problematic,” she says. “Plus, he plans fun and engaging activities and teambuilding days, like fishing trips, paintball, barbecues and boating.”
Clad in her ever-present flip flops during the warmer months, Trish is the level head that keeps clients happy. “We’re not going to pave over something that’s not right. We work hard to maintain our high standards of quality while keeping the client apprised of what’s going on on-site. I’m involved throughout a project, work to address any potential issues and meet with the client as much as they need,” she says.
“We work with the best in the business and don’t have much turnover. To me, our employees are family. They support the company’s best interests. You can’t buy that kind of loyalty—it comes from the heart.” Trish Spano, President, Intercounty Paving Co., Inc.
The team cites their favorite recent projects, starting with one that came to the company through Instagram. “Tyler has worked hard to build up our presence on social media,” Scott says. “That’s how a national paving company from Chicago found us. They were impressed by our workmanship showcased online and contracted us to pave, mill and stripe a parking lot for Pilgrim Furniture & Mattress City in Danbury, Connecticut.”
A recent municipal project had Intercounty Paving working right in front of the interchange to Interstate 84. The company paved a 50,000-square-foot section of Lime Kiln Road for the town of East Fishkill. “We worked closely with the state and the town during all phases of the project,” Tyler says.
For a homeowners association in Somers, New York, the company completed a $1.7 million road repaving project. “We repaved every piece of blacktop over the course of two years,” Tyler notes.
Community Service, Industry Recognition
When not working hard on projects, the team of Intercounty Paving enjoys participating in community events like Holiday on the Lake in Carmel. “Our company builds a huge holiday float, like those you see in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade,” Trish says. “In the past, we decorated a float like “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and have even done a breast cancer awareness float. Last year, we decorated an entire park with themed sections from “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” Santa’s Workshop and Candy Land. It’s always great to be out in the community.”
Intercounty Paving’s work has received industry recognition for excellence. Five years running (2015 to 2020), the company has received the Pavement Award, presented by Pavement Maintenance & Reconstruction magazine, as well as the Safety Bronze Award by Nolan Consulting Group. Further, Tyler received Construction Equipment magazine’s Under 40 in Construction Equipment Award, which showcases young talent in the construction equipment industry.
“This year is our 65th year in business. Ten years ago, a $20,000 job was big for us. Today, we’re working on projects that are more than $1 million,” Trish says. “Everything we’ve done has made us a stronger company.”