In 1976, while America was celebrating its bicentennial, Bob Surface and Bart Mitchell were talking about an exciting idea – to own their own asphalt company in Northern Virginia. Surface had been working for another paving company and decided he wanted to create his own business. He shared his idea with Mitchell, whose business was supplying paving companies with liquid asphalt to manufacture hot mix. The two began to discuss how they could build their own company.
One day, Surface shared his idea with Ron White, a good friend. Though White didn’t know much about paving roads, he was intrigued by Surface’s idea and experience in the business. White agreed, arriving at the realization that he was young enough to take a risk, and that such an opportunity might never come along again.
With nothing but an idea, Superior Paving Corp. was started. The three men had no plant, no land, and no equipment – not even county approval to start their business. They worked out a deal with Luck Stone Company, and set up their first office in one of Luck’s scale houses at its Centreville, Virginia quarry. With just three desks in one little room, Superior Paving Corp. arranged for the next steps: to acquire permits, purchase equipment and build an asphalt plant.
Before the company was even fully prepared to do businesses, the men bid on a VDOT contract under the name of Mitchell’s liquid asphalt company to keep from missing the bid deadline. To their delight and surprise, VDOT awarded the fledgling corporation a job to lay down more than 90,000 tons of asphalt on one of its road projects.
Not expecting such instant progress, Surface, White and Mitchell worked feverishly to get the plant up and running, initially investing in used equipment just to get started. Knowing they could secure VDOT as a future customer if they performed well, the team put in many long days and sleepless nights and took risks in order to meet deadlines. Fortunately, VDOT noticed their attitude, hard work, and the fact that they were building a brand new, state-of-the-art asphalt plant at Luck Stone’s Centreville quarry.
After a successful test of the plant in late July of 1976, Superior Paving Corp. was able to hire a small crew to run the new plant and their first paving crew of 12 men to lay the asphalt. From August to November of 1976, the team laid pavement for VDOT and picked up private work on the side. Superior Paving Corp. had made it, but its founders were not about to slow down.
In the year that followed, the company added a second paving crew, and was fortunate enough to have found the perfect combination of people – a group that was eager to work hard and succeed as a team. All these years later, White maintains that the company’s rise to success is due in large part to the attitude and commitment of its employees, which has translated over the decades and remains a key feature of the company’s workforce to this day. Superior Paving Corp. boasts some of the lowest employee turnover rates for any industry, with a high percentage of employees who have been with the company for more than 30 years.
Superior Paving Corp. Today
All three of Superior Paving Corp.’s partners have children who have followed them into the business and maintained the strong work ethic of the company’s founders. Bob Surface’s son, Frank, is now the company’s CEO. Jim Mitchell and David White, sons of Bart and Ron, serve on the company’s executive team. Many Superior Paving Corp. employees are second-generation staff – the sons and daughters of the original team.
Today, Superior Paving Corp. is one of the most respected names in paving in the Northern Virginia area. Over the years, it has expanded throughout the region to include plants that do many of the area’s biggest public road projects. VDOT continues to be the company’s largest client; it also upholds its close partnership with Luck Stone. Superior Paving Corp.’s client base has grown to include everyone from subdivision developers to school systems, as well as a bevy of smaller private pavers who buy its asphalt.
Superior Paving Corp. is even well known outside of the Northern Virginia area and is considered a respected innovator in the asphalt industry nationwide. Two of its partners have served as chairman of the National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA) and one as president of Virginia Asphalt Association (VAA). Superior Paving Corp. continues to participate in nationwide efforts to improve road pavement and lay-down technology, acting as a leader in the asphalt industry’s commitment to green practices and technology.