Last week’s Leader had a front-page photo of Paveit Construction of Slave Lake demonstrating a new pothole-patching product. It’s apparently a more durable fix, and Paveit hopes it will catch on.
What we didn’t mention is that Paveit owns exclusive Canadian rights to use and market and eventually (they hope) produce the stuff right here at home.
How in the world does that happen?
That’s exactly what we asked Paveit manager Rob Loroff. It turns out the connection between the European manufacturer of Plastasphalt and a small company in a small Alberta town came down to a bit of coincidence, plus Paveit responding to an opportunity.
It starts with the owner of the company (Strassenflex) being in Jasper on a skiing holiday. On his way back to Edmonton, Loroff says, he heard people on the radio talking endlessly about potholes. A lightbulb must have gone off in his head, and the next thing you know, the German consulate in Alberta was reaching out, via email, to Alberta companies that might have an interest in the product.
“I didn’t respond for about a month,” says Loroff. When he did, the response was positive and negotiations ensued.
A few months later, Paveit has the product, the equipment to prepare it for application and a bit of practice under its belt. Now it’s a matter of doing more demonstrations, getting the word around and hoping for good results.
If it goes as well as hoped, Loroff says a production plant for Plastasphalt will be set up in Slave Lake. With the whole country to conquer, it could get very big indeed. Other plants would obviously be necessary, “but there would always be one here,” he says.
Paveit’s first paying job with the product was in the Boston Pizza parking lot last week. So far so good on that, although it’s too early to tell.
“We will see what it looks like in the spring,” says general manager Tyler Warman. “But for right now I would say I’m happy with the results.”
Why nobody else ever got hold of this product in Canada all this time is an unanswered question. It could be that the German-based owner of it never thought to expand internationally before. That changed a couple of years ago when it set up shop in China, with apparently good results.
Loroff says there’s another company in Alberta “that’s been trying to duplicate it,” but without a lot of success. There are secret ingredients to the Plastasphalt process that the company keeps close. All we know at this point is that it includes recycled rubber.