From May/June Asphalt Pavement Magazine a
Volume 26 | Number 3
National Asphalt Pavement Association
FOCUS ON THE FIELD: JOB SPOTLIGHT
Meet Jeff Kresnak: FOCUS ON THE FIELD: JOB SPOTLIGHT
CEO, Superior Asphalt Inc.
SUPERIOR ASPHALT INC. Jeff Kresnak’s life is a classic all-American story about working hard from the ground up. Kresnak, CEO of Superior Asphalt Inc. in Michigan, started in the industry at 16 years old. One spring, he needed a job and found he liked working with asphalt because it kept him outside. He enjoyed meeting people, the business and career opportunities available, financial rewards, bonuses, and having the winter months off so he could trap. At 17, Kresnak started his own company repairing driveways with a roller and 1-ton dump truck. It progressed to a 500-ton-per-hour plant, a gravel pit, and a 140-employee company.
Q1: What are the biggest issues facing our industry today, and what needs to happen to surmount those challenges?
Finding skilled labor. The younger generations don’t see or aren’t aware of the possibilities – the compensation we offer, the opportunities to climb the ladder. We go through a lot of people to find somebody who is willing to stick with this industry. When we do find them, after they give it a year or two, they discover they love it. As a nonunion company, we compensate above the average entry-level construction position because we know it’s hard work.
Finding aggregates in our part of the country has been a real struggle. We’re having to go further from the plants to find the right sand and stone. RAP – it’s getting harder to find because the excavators and road builders are using it as a subbase material instead of using road gravel. It would help the industry if it were easier to get mining permits.
Q2: What is your leadership style, and how do you cultivate a positive culture at your company?
I want to put people in positions that they love. If you don’t want to be on the roller, maybe we can have you around the paver or gravel pit; we can put you on a prep crew or grading crew. People aren’t going to excel if they only kind of like what they do. They are going to excel if they like or love what they do. As an owner, I realize that I am only a slice of the pie. Many companies want to keep the whole pie and give away crumbs. The pendulum is swinging, though, because good people are putting their price out. We don’t take our people for granted. We know they are good enough and strong enough to go anywhere else. We keep them happy by putting them in the right job, with a good retirement plan and health insurance plan.
Q3: How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected paving in your area?
It did impact us to a degree at the beginning because we weren’t allowed to bid parking lot or driveway work. We tried to take the negative of COVID-19 and find some positives and learning opportunities. We worked hard to produce asphalt and cold patch for the municipalities. We learned how to do Zoom meetings.
Q4: How have you seen the value of a NAPA membership, even during turbulent times such as recessions, natural disasters, and now, a pandemic?
We get a lot out of it. I’m excited every month to get the new issue of Asphalt Pavement magazine because it helps us learn what other people do around the country. We try to implement those ideas. We take our 200-square-mile radius and open it up to the whole country. We’ve bought asphalt plants and parts through associate members. We love NAPA and have been members since 2010.
Q5: Describe your asphalt journey.
I breathe and eat this industry. I strive to do everything to perfection. It’s been important to me that I take care of people and ensure we are a diversified company. We also love to give back to the communities. You can only keep what you give away. We’ve donated a variety of projects, including paving an inner-city church parking lot and basketball courts for free.