Ep. 114: Building Strong Relationships with Matt Stanley of American Pavement Specialists

Matt Stanley, American Pavement SpecialistsGrowing up, Matt Stanley and his three brothers were "raised on blacktop", working alongside their parents from the time they could hold a shovel at their Danbury, Connecticut-based paving business, American Pavement Specialists. Since then, the small company has grown into a big name in the paving world, starting their own clothing brand and sponsoring NASCAR driver Spencer Boyd. 

Matt runs everything from field operations to marketing, and he shares how building strong relationships with your family, crew and OEMs helps maximize your quality of work and success. 

Matt joins host Missy Scherber to discuss:

  • Making working with your family cool again
  • Training employees from the ground up 
  • Instilling pride and values in your crew
  • Improving relationships with OEMs and dealers through top-notch marketing
  • Tips for honing your brand identity on social media

Never listened to a podcast before? Here's How to Listen to a Podcast.

If you want to listen to more recorded podcasts, click below to see the CONEXPO-CON/AGG archive of episodes.

Listen on your favorite app: iTunes | iHeartRadio | Stitcher | Spotify | Google Play

Show Transcript: 

Intro:

Welcome to CONEXPO-CON/AGG Radio, where we bring you boots on the ground perspectives from construction business owners, and industry experts about their successes, challenges, and whatever else is on their minds. Consider them your own personal mentors on technology implementation, equipment solutions, business management, and more. Enabling you to apply their expertise to your business. Held every three years in Las Vegas CONEXPO-CON/AGG is North America's largest construction trade show. For even more ways to connect with the industry visit conexpoconagg.com/connect. We've got another great guest on the show today. So, let's dig in.

Missy Scherber:

Thanks for joining us for another episode of CONEXPO-CON/AGG Radio. I'm your host, Missy Scherber. A few months ago, we asked who you the listeners wanted to hear on the show. And the overwhelming response was American Pavement Specialists. American Pavement Specialists is a full service paving company located in Danbury, Connecticut, and has been family-owned, and operated for more than 25 years. Joining us today is one of the family members, Matt Stanley, a second generation employee who does everything from field operations to an outstanding job of marketing on Instagram. All right, well, Matt, thank you so much for joining us today. Welcome to the show.

Matt Stanley:

Thank you for having me Missy. This is an awesome opportunity. I really appreciate it.

Missy Scherber:

Yeah, we're very excited to talk to you. A lot of Instagram and social media followers have really been excited to hear from you regarding your family business, American Pavement specialist, but for those who don't know you, tell us a little bit about yourself, and your family's history in the paving business.

Matt Stanley:

Yeah, so, I mean, asphalt really runs in our blood. My entire family does blacktop. Me personally, like you said, my name's Matt Stanley, I'm 27 years old. I started working with my dad jokingly probably as soon as I was potty training, I started going to work with dad, but yeah. I did well in school. I went to college, I did construction management.

Missy Scherber:

Very cool.

Matt Stanley:

I did about three years actually. And when I got into the program I thought I would learn a lot about what I didn't know on the job. And I thought I'd learn more in depth in estimating, in surveying, and things like that. But it seemed at least in my core program, it was a lot about how a building goes up, what goes into that. And I wasn't really that interested in it. And I went there to learn something, you know?

And I didn't really feel like I was getting the most out of it. So, in my third year, my brother and I, we bought a house together, and we did a big renovation on it. So, I took a semester off. And just in that summer I was supposed to do summer courses, and it just didn't feel right. I didn't think I was going to get what I wanted out of it. So, I chose to, I guess, you could say drop out. You know?

Missy Scherber:

Yeah. And did you go directly into the family business?

Matt Stanley:

I did. I always worked, even in college, I went into a college that was about 45 minutes away from where I live. But even on the weekends, I always went home and worked. I had Fridays off, so I'd go home work Friday, Saturday, and I can stash a little coin for the semester. So, I always did that. Growing up, I'm the youngest of four boys. My brother, Josh, he's 30, my brother Jack's 33, and my brother Billy, he's the oldest, he's 35. So, you can imagine what that household was like growing up, very competitive. Everything was a competition.

Matt Stanley:

Sports were a huge part of us growing up, very involved in all like basketball, football, baseball. My father, we sponsored teams, and stuff. He even coached. Which looking back now, I'm like, I don't know how he had time to do all that. You know?

Missy Scherber:

Right. And run a business. So, the family business was always around for all four of you boys, as you were growing up. It's interesting you went to college for construction management, and then you realized, like ... I'm sure it was a great program, but you learn so much more on the field. So, then tell me about that transition of going from that program to then getting really fully involved in the family business, not just treating it as the weekend job, when did that happen?

Matt Stanley:

I'd say even before that, even like in middle school, I'd say like my first summers where I really went to work and didn't do the half days anymore. I was probably 13 years old, and I've worked 40, 50 hours a week with my dad. So, I was always very involved, all throughout school, all throughout college. And it was just like being that our whole family is involved, we don't really get to turn it off. And we don't mind that we don't turn it off, but it was just so part of our childhood, going to work, and just things of that manner.

Missy Scherber:

Absolutely. So, now the family business, so your dad started it. Let's talk a little bit about the history of it, from what I understand your dad started it with your mom. And he had grown up around his father who owned a small driveway company. So, tell me about the history of them starting this business. I know you would be able to better tell their story. I want to hear a little more about how they started. Have they told you, like, what were we thinking? Was it hard? Was it easy with a family of four boys?

Matt Stanley:

Yeah, we all know it definitely isn't easy. It's still not easy. Right? But yeah, my dad grew up even with his father, which is my grandfather, he worked with him, and his brother until he was actually 28 years old. So, he already had three of my brothers. So, when he was 28 years old, he started to have his own vision of what he wanted to see his future look like. So, with three boys at home, and one on the way, which was me, he made that tough decision to go on his own, which I know it wasn't easy, not only taking the risk, but leaving the family business he grew up in. So, that he left in about 1993, and that's when we started. And I could say like, we grew so organically.

Matt Stanley:

He grew very slow. Didn't take on crazy work at first. He always did a lot of work but he wasn't the type to like get an investor, and buy four brand new pieces of equipment. He started with a little six wheeler dump truck, a little roller. He tells the story all the time. His first driver was his little six ton driver, which is really tiny. He picked it out with a pick, threw it on the truck, dumped it, went to the blacktop plant, dumped little piles, raked it out, and got his check. And that's how we started, got one guy, and got two guys. So, he really started small.

Missy Scherber:

That's so interesting to hear because I've seen both dynamics, and I would say I probably wish we could grow our company 10 times faster. And Trevor is like a slow and steady wins the race kind of guy. So, it's really cool to hear that your father just started with one of each, and slowly built that. And it sounds like he's really built a lot of trust in the community that you're in. Is that right?

Matt Stanley:

Right.  Yeah. And you make a good point, like starting small, I think it gives you that solid foundation. In times like this, like we ... I was a little nervous this season, and how busy we do, but we grew so minimal over a long period of time, and it's really developed a really strong foundation for times like this.

Missy Scherber:

Yeah. So, I love hearing that perspective because I do think too, a lot of people might look at your Instagram, might look at American Pavement Specialists, and be like, "Wow, they're so successful. Look at that fleet." But it started small, and slow, and steady. And that's probably how you've been able to sustain where you're at right now. I imagine.

Matt Stanley:

For sure. I know. Like guys message us on Instagram all the time and say what an inspiration we are, and that feels good. And they're telling us what they need, and if they only had this. And I'm just thinking to myself, like they've been in business 10 years. Like my dad's first 10 years, he didn't have 10 shiny Peterbilt trucks. It was like not even close, you know? And I just wish people would recognize that more. I think they get it, but I don't think it really processes that. Like he's been doing this for 27 years for American Pavement. But even before that, he's probably been paving for 45 years, and [crosstalk 00:08:38] years old. So, it's really like this is his life.

Missy Scherber:

So, that's I think an important message for the community to hear. And I love that you're bringing this perspective to the forefront of our conversation, that it takes time, the 10 shiny Peterbilts ... Because I even looked at your Instagram, and I looked at Trevor. I'm like, "We need to clean all our trucks right now." And he's like, "Hey, one day we will have a shop. We will have the ability to look like that." He said, "But right now cashflow is king. We have to take our time." And so, I love that you're bringing that to spotlight. Tell me what your parents tell you about the dynamic between them. So, your mom's at home raising four boys, that's a jungle right there-

 

... And your dad is in the field. I understand she had got involved in the business at some point, tell me about their dynamic or the stories of their involvement with each other's business.

Matt Stanley:

Yeah, so, they've set such a good example. My mom was there since day one. And you hear it all the time behind every successful man is a strong woman. And that's exactly what my mom is. She takes on all the stress, and still puts a smile on her face, and allows us to go do what we need to do. But when we first started, like the office was at home. And she's raising all the boys, and we got the office in the back. And I can just remember, like, we'd be playing roughhouse, and she'd be yelling at us. And then the phone would call in, she like picks up, "American Pavement, how can I help you?" Like a flip of this [crosstalk 00:10:10], you know? And that's not easy.

Missy Scherber:

Yeah. So, she supported from the very beginning. And then was your dad in the field full-time?

Matt Stanley:

Full-time. I mean, when we were younger ... That's the one thing I wanted to talk about. Like business owners, they're not always going to be there for their kids. My dad was always on the job. He worked from sunup to sundown. He'd leave at 5:30 in the morning. And before us boys were taking care of the work, he was coming home at eight o'clock at night covered in blacktop. And I noticed that from a young age, and we all did. So, I'll forever be grateful for that.

Missy Scherber:

So, he was working hard. And you bring up another great thing when it comes to family. I think, people in construction, construction workers, sometimes we struggle. We have a very intensive schedule. It's sunup to sundown. But from what I'm hearing from you, it didn't ruin the family dynamic for you guys. You were still close to your dad, you stayed connected. How do you think he did that? Like what did your dad and mom do to be so busy, to build a business, but to stay connected to their family?

Matt Stanley:

We always say business is important but you have to keep family first to do this successfully. I mean, the family business, we spend a lot of time together, right? 80 hours a week you're together. And even before that, when we all lived at home, like it was working all day, things didn't always go perfect. And then you got to come home and eat dinner together, and you're talking about work. But I can give my mom tons of credit for that, because growing up she was not going to allow us to not get along. She made sure, and my dad always told us like, "Your brothers, those keep them close. You're going to grow up, you're going to have friends, but your brothers, you can trust." And now his family is number one.

Missy Scherber:

That's so awesome that they raised you because I think there's so many businesses out there. There are family businesses like construction is built on family businesses, but you don't hear a lot of good stories on dynamics. So, what an awesome thing. So, you give your mom credit, she fought for the family time, and keeping you guys connected.

Matt Stanley:

Yeah, absolutely. And with all this going on, as popular as we get, everyone wants to always ask about my father, and my father, and my father, but my mom, she stirred the drink, if you want to put it that way. She was the glue. She kept everything together. Even when, like I talked about, you have blow ups on the job, you get in arguments, and just having my mom there, someone you could talk to when you got home, she was there for us in that manner too.

Missy Scherber:

So, tell me about their role now. The company has grown exponentially, and you now have a whole fleet, and almost 20 employees. What are your parents' role as owners now that you boys are involved in the business, it's significantly bigger. What's their day-to-day look like now?

Matt Stanley:

So, it depends, sometimes we're on a big job, like a really big job, we'll have the entire crew out there, one crew going. And my dad will be there too. Like as for today, we got two crews going, my dad's bouncing around, my brother Jack has the milling crew. My brother, Josh runs the paving crew, and I run it with him. So, on days like this, my dad does a lot of bouncing around. As far as my mom goes, she's in the office. She would like to get out to the fields a lot more, but it's only her and another girl in the office. So, she's definitely got her plate full. So, her day-to-day is taking care of the bills. Obviously, we get a huge blacktop bill all the time, so you got to make sure the suppliers are paid first.

Missy Scherber:

Yeah, absolutely.

Matt Stanley:

She makes sure that invoices, payments, proposals, emails, contracts, reading that little fine print in the contract that if it was up to my dad he probably wouldn't even read. But my mom knows that she needs to read that stuff. And then as well as just answering the phone. She's done a great job with that. We talk about the shiny red trucks, and that's a lot of times the first impression that someone gets when we work. But even before that, it's that initial phone call and that friendly voice that picks up, and she could say she's an owner, and my boys are in field, my husband's out there. And I think that customers love that.

Missy Scherber:

Wow, that's so interesting to think about because what we see on Instagram are the shiny fleets, and thinking that's the impression, but you go back to a very important point for construction companies to keep in mind. The first impression is the phone call.

Matt Stanley:

Right. [crosstalk 00:14:46].

Missy Scherber:

So, now you talked about your dad and your mom's day-to-day. I want to really hear your day-to-day life. When you say you run the paving crew, what does that look like? What does that mean? What are the ups and downs of running a paving crew every day? Because we're on a Zoom call right now and you're sweating. It's like he's been out in the field-

Matt Stanley:

[crosstalk 00:15:08]. Yeah.

Missy Scherber:

... I can hear the machines going in the background. Tell me a day-to-day in the life of running a paving crew.

Matt Stanley:

Yeah. Well, I really want to talk about like see, we're seasonal in Connecticut, you know? So, our summers, we got to make sure that we start early, and we get it done late just because we only work probably nine months out of the year. So, definitely, up at 5:30 in the morning, we're at the shop by 6:30. And when we get there, my dad, he's separating the crews, doing stuff like that. And it's me and my brother's job to make sure all the trucks are equipped for the job we need. Certain tools need to be on certain trucks, things like that. But as far as when we get on the field, my brother, Josh, he runs the paving crew, as I said. And I'd say probably 70% of the time I'm on the paving crew with him.

Matt Stanley:

And I'm like his number two. I make sure everything's going smoothly, so he could focus on other things. And a lot of times, if we have a milling job, I'm out running the milling crew. And I'm working with my brother Jack. So, time-to-time I become a little bit of a utility guy, which I like, I get to make my brother's jobs easier.

Missy Scherber:

That's awesome.

Matt Stanley:

I have a CDL Class A, so I'm moving equipment time-to-time. I mean, growing up in a family business you do whatever it takes. Yeah.

Missy Scherber:

Yup. And it sounds like as the youngest brother you've been willing to take on that role which is really exciting to see of you're just supporting kind of it sounds like everyone, which is a big responsibility in itself. So, Matt, let's talk about business and industry outlook. And I think this is a really relevant topic for the times that we're in right now, what are the biggest challenges as a business that you're facing right now?

Matt Stanley:

I would say attracting employees isn't the hardest part for us right now because of the awesome brand that we've established, and our company morale. Everyone in town knows that we love what we do. And a lot of people, if they're in the construction industry, they would like the opportunity to be a part of it. As far as paving goes, they say construction is not for everybody. Paving definitely isn't for everybody. Okay, it's hot. It takes a certain type of person to do this. So, I would say training would be really tough for us. I think it takes about two or three years to train someone in the way we like. We don't really always grab people with experience. As long as someone has good character, and they're ambitious, and they want to be there, we'll make it work. You know?

Matt Stanley:

I think in blacktop, it's very important that they start on the bottom because that's the best way to learn. Now, if you want to run equipment one day, you got to learn how to work on the ground. And it's been important to us that we get young employees because you don't want to hire a 40-year old guy, and put him on a shovel. You know? So, we're looking at anyone from 18 to 26, 27 years old that is willing to work their way up the ranks.

Missy Scherber:

Yeah. So, you really like to start them at the bottom, start them on the ground. I do notice that a very common theme in hiring is the young, next gen wants to be in the equipment. And Ryan at Rock Structures talked about this in the excavation business. You're saying the same thing in the blacktop business, the groundwork is the best training spot. Right?

Matt Stanley:

Mm-hmm.

Missy Scherber:

So, you really like to put him there and teach him. And then you're saying it's about two to three years before they can fully be in the equipment?

Matt Stanley:

Yeah. I mean, some people who are quick learners, they catch on really quick, you can train them in a year or two, but we like to train people and know every aspect of what we do. Like I don't train someone in on a shovel. Like in blacktop, you start on a shovel, and as they start on the shovel, I'm teaching them how to rake too, because if they're shoveling correctly, it's easier on the raker. And it works its way up [inaudible 00:19:15].

Missy Scherber:

How do you get them to instill pride in that groundwork? What do you do? To really make them proud, like, "Hey, this is an important part of what we're doing, grabbing the shovel."

Matt Stanley:

Yeah. So, that's a good point. Even though you're on a shovel, that's a very important job. First thing I stress as far as paving goes, we'd like to be neat. A job can't always come out perfectly, but it can always be neat. Right? And I think we had success in training people because I have three brothers that are on the job. My oldest brother has another company, but he works with us sometimes too. And my dad's always on the job. So, I don't have just another employee training our employees, like it's either me, one of my brothers, or my dad. And if the boss is showing you something to do, I would hope that someone's going to take pride and really pay attention to the way we want things done.

Missy Scherber:

Yeah. That's awesome that you have the family members, even with as successful as you've been, you're still on the ground doing the training, interacting with the staff. And a lot of questions came up on Instagram of how do you train your people to take on that pride that you guys have, the pride in the equipment, keeping everything clean? And it sounds like just your involvement, and your presence probably instills that importance.

Matt Stanley:

Yeah. For sure. Like, I know a lot of people ask about, how do you keep your trucks so clean? And I'm sure we'll talk about that later. But our drivers keep our trucks so clean because we're actually cleaning them ourselves too. I'll wash a couple of dump trucks when I get back to the shop. And if they see me washing them, and my brother's helping, they're going to keep their truck clean too. Yeah.

Missy Scherber:

So, you're setting the standard from the top, which is awesome. Now, regarding business, and industry [inaudible 00:21:04] too. We've talked about the challenge, which for you isn't attracting people, it's training them. That does take time, but what do you see as your biggest growth opportunities for the asphalt paving industry in the coming years?

Matt Stanley:

I love the position we're in right now. People have really slept on social media and I take pride that we're a small company with a big name. You see a lot of people on social media, and they try to act like their company's bigger than it is. So, they get some credibility or just in general they want to look bigger. But I take pride that we have 20 employees and we do tons of work. And all of our employees, probably the average age is probably 30 years old. So, we made sure we had a young crew. So, in the next four or five years, we're going to have a really solid crew. I mean, even this year, not many people are probably hiring.

Matt Stanley:

We just hired four new guys because we know this is going to be a busy year. And if it's not this year, next year is going to be busy. And then those guys will be trained in hopefully halfway at that point.

Missy Scherber:

That's awesome. I love that, small company with a big name. And that is setting you up for success in the future, which is so exciting to see for you. So, let's pivot a little to equipment and technology. I know the social media community loves talking about the iron. So, you guys run several different brands of pavers. Is there one that is your favorite among you or your crew, and what are the features that set them apart?

Matt Stanley:

All right. So, we run two types of pavers. So, as far as like small commercial lots goes, we use LeeBoy, LeeBoy is a staple in our industry. I think my dad was probably the first to ever run a LeeBoy in Connecticut. He liked [inaudible 00:22:48] they brought to the table. So, LeeBoy is like a brand that we love. I've done a little bit of marketing with them in the past year, which is exciting. Our other paving equipment is from ... I don't know if you've ever heard of the Wirtgen Group. It's a German company, they make up Vogele pavers, Hamm rollers, and the Wirtgen milling machines. So, I'd say probably 60% of our fleet is from Wirtgen Group. And I can't get over how reliable these machines are.

Matt Stanley:

As far as technology, I remember when we first bought our big Vogele at paver, which is probably like a paper you'd see on the highway, or large parking lots, I remember being intimidated just with the technology. But we've had them for years now, and we've really taken a liking to them. And like our pavers specifically, that thing is bulletproof. It's absolutely bulletproof.

Missy Scherber:

Solid. And the technology, so, it was intimidating at first. How did you get over that intimidation as you're investing in the latest tech machines that are reliable?

Matt Stanley:

Yeah, no, it's funny. It's like once we got to that point where we could start buying these machines that are really technology advanced, we are at that right age, it lined up a perfect time. I think when we got our first road paver, I was probably 16 or 17 years old. So, all these buttons, they were intimidating, but it didn't really scare me. I knew that I had to learn this. But I know in like in your industry, you talk about like there's dozers that have GPS, and you could put in the coordinates or even excavators, they pretty much almost ... I don't want to say dig the hole for you, but you do have that capability. In paving, it's not really there yet. I don't know if it'll ever like the paving machine can work itself. But I can say like just the machines itself improving that's because of technology, right?

Missy Scherber:

Yeah, absolutely.

Matt Stanley:

So, like our skid-steers, as simple as a skid-steer, they all have cameras on the back now. Like back in the day, we didn't have cameras. And if you were milling a road and you're turning around all day, like your neck is killing you at the end of the day, like we have cameras right here.

Missy Scherber:

[crosstalk 00:25:07].

Matt Stanley:

... And I even see like our older guys they don't really trust that backup camera, and our younger core group of guys, they use the backup camera. So, things like that.

Missy Scherber:

So, you've seen it improve the safety, the efficiency, but also the ergonomics for your team where they might not have as big of a crick in their neck by the end of the day.

Matt Stanley:

My mom likes to say that we come home a lot cleaner now.

Missy Scherber:

Okay. I like that. And I'm sure she appreciates that with all your clothes not being covered in grease. So, now, let's talk about marketing because really, as you said, you've built a small company with a big name. You have done an outstanding job in just setting the tone on being progressive in marketing. You're known in the area, and on social media for your shiny red trucks. Explain to us what your marketing strategy is, when that came into play. Because you're not only doing a fantastic job of marketing out in the field with the condition of your fleet, and how good it looks, but you're doing a great job on social media. So, talk about not only your strategy, but how that came about. What motivated you to get onto social media? How has that paid off for you?

Matt Stanley:

So, even when my dad started before we had 10 Peterbilt trucks, he had a couple of trucks, and he always made it a point to keep them clean. He felt that if the equipment rolled up to the job, and the equipment looked new because it was clean, and the trucks look clean, like what would an inspector think? They're going to think they're going to get a good job. Right?

So, that's always been part of our thing even before social media. It helps that we have very shiny red trucks, because those are like neck breakers. So, I think that attention was always there. And then once we had social media that was like fuel to the fire, like even growing up, our friends would always say like, "Oh, I saw your truck." And now I'm getting a tag on Instagram of my truck on the road. So, that's kind the difference now. And now I'm able to push that, what we do on a global scale. And it's really caught in some heat. And that's what I'm passionate about is just pushing this brand.

Missy Scherber:

Yup. And pushing it out into the forefront. And you've done such a great job. So, tell me what your motivation was there. Like how did that start for you? It sounds like your dad has done just a great job at having a really good presence out in the field. How did this start getting you online? Clearly, you had a strategy or a motivation to do something with social media. Talk to us about why you got started, and really what you do on social media to promote your business, just to help other business owners out there.

Matt Stanley:

Right. So, it helps that we have like a well oiled machine. My guys all know what they're doing. We have an extreme amount of chemistry amongst our crew. And we've always took good care of our equipment. And I remember being on the job at 12, 13 years old, and looking at the reaction of people, the customers, and then inspectors, and they're always in awe like, "Wow, like check this out. Like, look how clean those trucks are, look how efficient they work." You know? So, I knew I had to start sharing it. So, it wasn't like where I had to make content up. It's more just pulling out that camera, and recording it.

Missy Scherber:

Yeah. And you've done a great job because I mean, you're daily just updating with video. Are you doing that on your iPhone? Your videos look so good.

Matt Stanley:

Yeah. So, a lot of the like the simple videos. I don't do those videos with all the music, I don't do those with my iPhone. But yeah, I try and get ... A good way of putting it is I know what people want within the paving industry because I grew up within the industry. So, I know what is impressive to people, if you could put it that way.

Missy Scherber:

Yep. And so you just simply shoot that and share it because you understand what the industry's looking for.

Matt Stanley:

Right. 

Missy Scherber:

Well, you've done a great job.

Matt Stanley:

Thank you. And as we progressed on social media, now I found a kid in our local city, his name is Shane, and he's a great videographer. He does all kinds of work. And I knew he was never been on construction. I was like, "I'd really like to have a professional camera out there. And I think we can make this really fun. I can put some cool music to it." We've even took him like ... I got one video, and it's a sound bit from Gary Vaynerchuk. I don't know if you know who that is.

Missy Scherber:

Yeah, I love him.

Matt Stanley:

He's a social media guy. So, he's talking about growing up and like working your tail off as a kid. And I had that audio like over our job, and he puts cool effects on the equipment. And I just knew that would catch fire.

Missy Scherber:

Yeah. And so, have you found that investment in photography, and videography pay off for you? Because I know I've personally taken a little heat for that having our own photographer and videographer. And I see a longterm goal there, but you can only do so much with selfies. Right? So, have you seen hiring a videographer and photographer pay off for you guys in the longterm?

Matt Stanley:

As far as the videography goes, it's something we like to do. And it might not be for everybody, just because [inaudible 00:30:24] cool videos doesn't mean that you need cool videos too. Obviously, that would help. But I know from a manufacturer standpoint, like as far as like say Leeboy goes, you run a lot of their equipment, or Wirtgen Group, when they see their equipment being ran in the field in a way that we run them, that's really attractive to them. And I think it's improved our customer service to like the dealerships.

And as we gained a traction with followers, they've noticed that these guys have up towards the 16,000 followers all within the industry, all construction guys, all paving guys. So, I would expect, top-notch service from them. You almost want to be a poster child for these manufacturers.

Missy Scherber:

Yup. And so, it's really paid off for you on that front. What advice would you give other construction companies when it comes to social media?

Matt Stanley:

I always say like authenticity is my thing. And if you're not in the shiny trucks, don't go buy new trucks, and try and keep them cleaning if that's really not what you're into. As far as tips goes, you got to post for the purpose. I like [inaudible 00:31:33] mine group, like he's big on his employee development. So, he pushes that a lot. There's other companies that are big on safety, so they push that a lot. I've been in the mind state that like whatever I do, I'm going to just push brand. Brand is going to be my thing. I like to show ourselves as being the premier paving company in the whole country, and going back, we don't have to be the biggest anymore. With social media, you could show that you're the best.

Missy Scherber:

Awesome. I love that post with a purpose. I think that's just fantastic advice for construction companies to walk away with that. That's easy. That's tangible. If you want to get started on social media, or build a good presence, post with a purpose, and let it roll out from there. That's great.

Matt Stanley:

Yeah. And for example, you do like a lot with the women, and that's your thing. I think I've taken a lot of tips from you. Like, I refer to you, you're the engagement queen. I think to gain a big following engagement is important, especially, the way the algorithms is set up now. Like if people are always replying your stories, or watching your stories, or liking your posts, you're going to come up a lot more. And by engaging with your audience through your story like you do, that gains a lot of traction quick.

Missy Scherber:

It really is so important. And for me what started with engagement on social media was I genuinely felt like, if this person took the time to comment on this photo, they deserve to hear back from me. Like, "Thanks for what you said, that's awesome." And then a year later I learned that it actually supports the algorithm with Instagram, that Instagram rewards you for free and boosts your content for free if you're engaged with your audience. And I love that they're awarding those of us that really care to take the time to connect with the community out there for free

Matt Stanley:

For sure. 100%. I agree. And back when we started Instagram, just specifically on Instagram, the hashtag thing used to work, you could just load up your caption with hashtags, and it would pop up on the explore page, and you'd gain some traction from that. But I think if you've seen other people, like for example, Aaron Witt from BuildWitt, and [inaudible 00:33:52] mine group, they post a caption that's really long, and so do you. You like pour your heart out a little bit, and that gets people commenting.

Missy Scherber:

Yeah. And really asking them to engage. Let's have some meaningful conversations within the construction community. And for me, what I found, naturally I'm a talkative person, which is probably why I'm here hosting the podcast. But I wanted to have the conversations. I thought I get to talk to this excavator on the other side of the country that's not a competitor, and he's willing to give me advice. And I'm able to ask questions, and he's able to ask us questions. Like why wouldn't we engage with each other? And you've done a great job with that as well. It's like, it's so worth the time. Haven't you found some really meaningful conversations come up through just engaging on social?

Matt Stanley:

So, through social media, we actually did an awesome event at CONEXPO. We did a thing was LeeBoy equipment where we hosted a paver meetup. I knew I wanted to get people together. So, I knew LeeBoy would maybe be on board. So, I met the marketing lady, and I said, "You know what? Let's get maybe some T-shirts, or hats made." So, we ended up getting some hats made. We put our logo on the front, and put their LeeBoy logo on the side with their permission. And we had about like 200 people show up to their booth. People from all over the industry, not only pavers, random people showed up that knew our Instagram.

Matt Stanley:

And not only is that a good look for the manufacturers, but just to bring some unity within the industry. Construction is very competitive wherever you are, but if we can come together, and that doesn't mean that you come together by biting someone's style, it's just like you could support someone.

Missy Scherber:

Yeah, absolutely. I love that you're bringing up the point of unity is everything, and that social media can bond and bring us together. Congratulations on that successful event, I'm a little bummed I wasn't invited, but maybe next time. Huh?

Matt Stanley:

You will definitely be invited.

Missy Scherber:

Oh, I love that that was successful for you guys. Now, one more marketing question, and I know we've spent a little more time here with marketing, but you've just done such a great job. And I know the community wants to hear more from you. Talk about the T-shirt company Raised on Blacktop. I've been so excited, checking my mailbox every day because you sent me a Raised on Blacktop T-shirt. Tell me about that company that you started and why you started that.

Matt Stanley:

Right. So, growing up, I've always like ... I wouldn't call like I'm totally into fashion, but I always appreciated a cool T-shirt. So, I noticed on Instagram a lot of people were asking, "Do you guys have an online store?" And I wasn't totally going to go up and just start trying to sell our American Pavement gear. So, I was like, "What can I do that is a little different, and that hasn't been done before?" And on social media, I met so many people like myself who grown up in a family business, or just grew up laying blacktop, working for a company. And I wanted something that can unite everybody. And just Raised on Blacktop, I don't think there's a more honest brand out there.

Matt Stanley:

Like it's so authentic. Obviously, it's not for everyone, if you didn't grow up on blacktop. But even like the NASCAR thing, like the driver we sponsored Spencer Boyd, he grew up on blacktop too. Being a NASCAR driver, or playing basketball, it could be anything like that. So, I just wanted something that everybody could connect to.

Missy Scherber:

That's awesome. Yeah. And tell us about that sponsorship too. So, the Raised on Blacktop really connects with so many different people. I didn't even think about that, like, "Hey, if you grew up on the blacktop playing basketball, driving cars, demo cars, any of that, this brand is for you." And I love that your purpose in the brand was unity. But tell us now how the NASCAR driver sponsoring him came about. Because again, that's just another unique way that you guys are marketing.

Matt Stanley:

Another thing that came through Instagram. I mean, just randomly one day I saw a verified account started following us. And I was like, "Who's this guy?" I'm into NASCAR, but not so much that I would know every driver. So, the kid Spencer Boyd started following us. I thought maybe he was a local kid, turned out he's from Missouri. But he just started following us, and I reached out to him. And he just complimented on our trucks, and our equipment. He must've saw them on the explore page or something. So, I had a little dialogue with him. And then when I started the Raised on Blacktop brand, I had some cool hoodies made, and I asked him, I said, "Can I send you some hoodies?" So, I sent him a hoodie, and to surprise ... And I wasn't sure if he was going to wear it or not.

Matt Stanley:

I had no clue. But he started wearing it a ton. And we developed a relationship with that. So, fast forward, maybe say three months down the road, and I get a message from Spencer. And I'm sitting with my dad, one of our equipment salesman, and a couple of my brothers, and he was telling us how he was starting on a new race team, and he was looking for some sponsors. And I was like, "Wow, look at this opportunity right here." And, if you asked me five years ago you'd be sponsoring a NASCAR driver, I wouldn't have said you're crazy, but I would have been surprised, you know?

So, it was a little expensive obviously but with everything that we're doing, like pushing our brand, and we definitely maybe would like to franchise one day because of how good of a presence we have. It just made sense. So, we were actually supposed to sponsor the Daytona race but we missed that by like a half a day. He picked up another sponsor. So, the next race was in Las Vegas, which is a little bit of a hike for us being in Connecticut. But we knew with CONEXPO, I think CONEXPO was two weeks after the race. So, we were like, there's a lot of viewership in Vegas. Why not? These opportunities don't come about to everybody, so why not take [crosstalk 00:40:00]?

Missy Scherber:

Let's do it. Well, that sounds like it was just an awesome, exciting opportunity for you. And it paid off. I feel like a lot of buzz was created on social media that a pavement company was sponsoring a NASCAR driver. So, job well done on that one as well.

Matt Stanley:

Thank you. When I saw that truck on the tracks, like obviously, it was our name on the truck, but I feel like it represented the entire industry just to make an example out of like a kid my age seeing a pavement company sponsoring a NASCAR track, our truck. Why couldn't he do that?

Missy Scherber:

Yeah, you're setting the standard, which is so cool. So, let's talk a little bit about business management. The construction industry is built on a lot of family run businesses like ours. And I know we already talked about this a little, but what advantages have you seen working in a family business and how has that set you apart from your competitors?

Matt Stanley:

Well, I can say it's definitely not easy, but it will always be worth it. I know that we're able to maintain the highest level of quality because the way we set our crews up, we try and have multiple family members on every job. Not only does it ensure quality, but for the person we're working for, they know I'm the boss's son, and they know they can ask me a question. And if I don't know the answer, I usually do, but I can get that answer quick. They don't have to email us, or call us, or try and get ahold of my dad all the time, we're there.

Matt Stanley:

So, I think that makes people very comfortable with working with us. And [inaudible 00:41:26] just to go back, like it's a lot I'd say easier to train people when my dad's on the job, or we're on the job, like the top employees are there, and we're all pulling in the same direction.

Missy Scherber:

Absolutely. So, it sounds like the advantage really is owners, and family members are always on site, always in the office. And that has been a huge advantage for you guys, which is just awesome. I love seeing a second generation out doing the work, sweating, running the equipment, running the trucks, cleaning the trucks. You guys are setting such a great example on what passing on a business to the second generation looks like. Now, talk about that though, the succession planning, and what advice would you give to others looking to pass down their business to the next generation? Is that easy?

Matt Stanley:

I don't know how much ... Yeah, definitely not easy. I don't know how much advice I can give for people passing it on to the next generation, but I know for the kids in the business, as you grow up, you're 15, 16, 17 years old, and your friends in the summers they're partying, and you're stuck on the job, just know that putting in that hard work, that's going to pay off in the long run. You're going to be so far ahead of the game. You don't want to be that kid that just then gets involved in the family business in his late 20s because it's going to be hard to earn the respect of the other employees. Not only do I want to make paving cool again, I want to make working with your family cool again.

Matt Stanley:

Growing up even in school, or your friends' parents, or even your friends, they always ask, like, "Do you plan on working for your father the rest of your life?" Or, "You're the youngest brother, like if you're going to be working between your brothers, you're never going to take over the company." And it doesn't need to be about that. We're going to make a company one day that is going to take all five of us to run, you know? And if I can do anything just to encourage people to stick through it.

Missy Scherber:

Well, I just think that's an amazing mission to want to make working with your family cool again, within construction. Because I think there's been a breakdown of that in the last 10 to 15 years. There's a gap. You don't see as many families working together, and that you want to shine a spotlight on that is such an awesome mission. And I'm very grateful that you're doing that. And just, hey, saying, "Don't just start when you're in your 20s, start when you're young, make the sacrifice, be out in the field, and it will pay off for you." So, thank you for sharing that, and wanting that to be cool again.

Missy Scherber:

Because I would love to see that. We don't come from that family dynamic. We have multiple brothers in the same industry that feel passionate about doing things separately. And Trevor and I have always wished, "Why can't we do this together? Why can't we work together?" So, I'm grateful that you're going to start setting that tone again. Now, one last thing I really wanted to ask you is the most important thing that you've learned working alongside your parents, because they just sound like just awesome leaders of the family and the business. What have you learned the most from your dad? What have you learned the most from your mom?

Matt Stanley:

Just to start with my dad, everybody wants to be a boss but my dad is the perfect example of he's a true leader. Like you ever see that old painting of George Washington in the boat? I think he's going across the Delaware River, and everyone's rolling in the back, and he's pointing forward. Like that is us in a nutshell. And he's just taught us how to lead, and how to treat people with respect, whether it's the kid on the broom, or your top employee. I mean, you can even go as far as having inspectors on the job. Sometimes it's a 20-year old kid now. And I see how my dad treats people, and he treats that kid with the same respect that he would treat someone who's been in industry for 50 years.

Missy Scherber:

That's awesome.

Matt Stanley:

... Because that's how you improve relationships and really how you build trust.

Missy Scherber:

That's awesome. So, those are the lessons you learned from your dad. What about from your mom? Who's really, it sounds like behind the scenes. What's the most important thing that you've learned from your mom?

Matt Stanley:

Well, I've learned how hard it is to do what she does. It's definitely not easy. The calls, like the invoices, the annual registrations, the insurance, performance bonds, things that maybe you Missy take care of. I've realized like how important that is. How having a strong individual in the office like that can really catapult your business, and allows not only my brothers but my dad to keep their focus on 100% field.

Missy Scherber:

Well, I'm excited to see you carry on your mom and dad's legacies alongside your brother. I think it's just amazing what you guys are doing. So, let's end it with a quick rapid fire round. This is just meant to be fun for your audience to get to know a little bit more about you. So, let's talk about your first job. What was your first job? It sounds like it probably is going to be paving, but maybe you had a lemonade stand. I don't know. Tell me your first job.

Matt Stanley:

I definitely did lemonade stands. I hope every kid wants to do lemonade stands. But definitely the laying blacktop was the first job I've ever had. Just like I started on a broom. Just cleaning up the job, cleaning the tools, keeping the tools on together. I literally started from the bottom.

Missy Scherber:

Okay. Now what about, what was your first car?

Matt Stanley:

Oh, my baby. I had a 2004 F-150, I turned 16. And I think my father owed maybe like $8,000 on the payments. And I saved my money up. My mom always told me at a young age, it's not how much you make, it's how much you save. So, I saved my money, and I bought that truck off him, and that was [inaudible 00:47:30].

Missy Scherber:

Awesome. And if you weren't doing this, which is hard to imagine, what would you be doing?

Matt Stanley:

I've always obviously been interested in the marketing and the branding. I would love to do that, maybe for like a manufacturer, like a LeeBoy, or Wirtgen Group. But if you ask me that question now, maybe go full-time at Raised on Blacktop.

Missy Scherber:

Awesome. I love it. What song gets you pumped up in the morning when you're headed out to run the crew and support everyone in the field?

Matt Stanley:

I am definitely that type that needs music in the morning.

Missy Scherber:

Me too.

Matt Stanley:

But I love some Drake. I like Drake. I like that song Nonstop.

Missy Scherber:

Yup. That's a good one.

Matt Stanley:

Don't ever stop.

Missy Scherber:

Don't ever stop.

Matt Stanley:

That's my jam right now.

Missy Scherber:

Trevor loves that one too. That's a good one. Now, who is one person you wish you could have dinner with?

Matt Stanley:

When you ask that question I automatically think of family members. My grandfather who did so much for us. He passed away a couple days before that NASCAR race. And I just wish I could sit down with him one more time, and just tell him how appreciative we are for what he's done. Even though he didn't start our company, none of this is possible without him. But I'd also say just on a lighter note, Gary Vaynerchuk.

Missy Scherber:

Right? Me too.

Matt Stanley:

I would love to sit down with him and just pick his mind. I feel like, we had a similar childhood. And I grew up working, and he talks about things like that all the time. And his words, they just stick to me.

Missy Scherber:

Yeah. Gary Vaynerchuk is just so awesome. Why don't we just show up at his offices, and camp out, and just wait?

Matt Stanley:

Let's do it.

Missy Scherber:

Now, what is your favorite piece of equipment and why?

Matt Stanley:

Well, we have tons of equipment. I like running at all of them, but I would say our Vogele and paver, just the technology that it has, that's one machine that ... A lot of people have advanced equipment but they might not use every feature. But I feel like over like three, four years, me and my brother Josh have really dug deep in that machine, and we get so much work out of it. And it's so dependable. The thing it's bulletproof.

Missy Scherber:

It's solid. So, that's your favorite. And then what was your favorite part of CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2020?

Matt Stanley:

You know what? I'd say just like the family aspect of it. That like a lot of people are out there with their family members, getting to do a little bit of a boys trip. But my highlight of the trip was probably doing that collab we did with LeeBoy. That was the first time we did a real official collab, and it felt like some hard work being paid off.

Missy Scherber:

Yeah, that sounds like the marketing, and the effort that went behind the scenes was such a huge success for you. So, congratulations. Just next time invite me. I'm coming.

Well, Matt, I can't thank you enough for sharing your time. I know you're out on the field right now, so I don't want to keep you any longer. But thank you so much for just promoting such a positive message, not just in the field, but in marketing and family. I love so much of what you said and I know the audience is going to have a lot of great takeaways. So, thank you again for taking the time to do this with us.

Matt Stanley:

Thank you. And I just want to thank you, specifically, Missy for what you do, for women in the industry. It doesn't have to be all about the men all the time. It's just all of that. And then thank you to CONEXPO for the show that they put on, for actually holding the show. We really made it out of there just in time, and I thought they did a good job with everything.

Missy Scherber:

They did an awesome job and thank you. I got to break up all you dirt and paving dudes with some ladies out there. So, I hope you're grateful for the demographic change up.

Matt Stanley:

I'm ready for a woman truck driver. We want a woman truck driver.

Missy Scherber:

Let's go. well thank you again, Matt. Have an awesome day.

Matt Stanley:

Thank you. You too, Missy.

Missy Scherber:

Yeah. Bye. It was so great talking to Matt today. And as a reminder for our listeners, the leading trade show and conference for the asphalt industry is coming up next year. Save the date for World of Asphalt, March 9th through 11th in Atlanta. For more information, visit worldofasphalt.com, and we hope to see you there.

Outro:

And that's going to wrap up this edition of CONEXPO-CON/AGG Radio. If you liked the show, and think other people should listen too, make sure to subscribe, and leave a review on iTunes. We'll be back next time with another great guest. Until that time, be sure to visit conexpoconagg.com/connect for even more ways to connect with the industry.

 




Related Articles