Spin Screed

Contractor Stories


Techniseal’s ColorBoost sealer transforms this long driveway. For projects like this Andrew recommends you use serious spraying equipment. "One of the keys to the system is the long hose. I know this sounds kind of crazy. But, it’s easier if you can keep the equipment in one place and just bring your long, long hose all the way out to where you need to spray."

Working with strippers in Reno
(cleaners & sealers too)
Contractor Andrew Vear starts a paver maintenance company as a business opportunity for his son, and as a retirement vehicle for himself.
By Tom Hatlen

When it comes to the hardscape industry, you could say that Andrew Vear has been around the block. He first began installing hardscape in his native UK before emigrating to the US in 1988. In a short time he was working for a Florida-based contracting company called National Paving Systems and opening paver installation offices in Pompano Beach, Clearwater, Largo and Destin, FL, in addition to New Orleans, LA.

He became a member of CPI before it became ICPI and attended the first ICPI Certification Instructors Course in the early 1990s. Today, Andrew is a member of several ICPI committees, and is a judge for the HNA Project Awards and Installer Championships.

Since National Paving, Andrew has started up several different hardscape contracting companies in Florida and Nevada, he served as the General Manager for Las Vegas block manufacturer Paver Module and worked as a Regional Manager for Techniseal – which brings us to his current enterprise: PaverBright, a cleaning, sealing and paver restoration company.

“We've been doing cleaning and sealing right from the get-go because it stopped the mold and mildew from growing – very important especially in Florida.”

By the 1990s Andrew’s contracting company was running a cleaning and sealing crew as a separate division. Then, 3 years ago he and his son Alex moved from doing paver maintenance as a separate division to offering it as a standalone company. They sold off their hardscape installation company.


Andrew says repairs are part of maintenance, but a full pickup and re-lay like this PaverBright project is rare.

Why switch to maintenance?
Andrew says they started PaverBright as a business opportunity for Alex and as a retirement vehicle for himself. For starters, Andrew says with paver maintenance they can generate almost the same amount of net profit as they could as an installation contractor.

But Andrew says the key is residual income. “Paver maintenance is a really good residual income business. It’s something that I could easily hand down to my son. Every 2 or 3 years, it's time to revisit the same customers. Give them a call and tell them it's time to give their pavers a wash and maybe a coat of sealer.”

Profile
PaverBright NV LLC
Reno, NV
Founded 2017
Andrew Vear Managing Director
Gina Mattoon Director
Alex Vear General Manager

Customer base
80% residential
20% commercial

Services
100% hardscape maintenance

Average residential job
$3,500

Average commercial job
$20,000

Largest project
$85,000

Annual sales
$800,000

Employees
5 - 8 depending on time of year and projects
Residual income is a big deal in adding value to a company’s worth because income from that type of business continues after the original owner is gone. Andrew says, “When I sold my installation business in 2001, the guy who bought it said he looked at other companies. He bought ours because it was the only one with a residual income component built into it. We had a separate cleaning and sealing division, and he could see it was making money.”

Andrew says there’s a huge market for hardscape maintenance and not nearly enough companies offering the service. “With 700 million sf of pavers per year going into the ground in America, that’s all going to need to be maintained. In my town, in the city of Reno, there's lots of people installing and nobody doing maintenance. So it was an easy decision.”

Installers should do maintenance too
Andrew says paver maintenance is critical for your company’s reputation, and for the industry’s reputation. “We used to sell pavers like there was no maintenance. I was guilty of doing that myself. That's just really turned out to not be true. Pavers do need to be maintained, just like any flat surface.

“The last thing you want is a bunch of projects out there that look like hell with people saying, ‘The guy next door's got concrete. His job looks fine but these pavers here look terrible.

“It’s like buying a new car. You have to offer service after the sale. Someone who spends 30, 40, or $50,000 on a beautiful paver backyard space or driveway should not have to go to someone else for maintenance.”


A PaverBright surface washer cleans pavers thoroughly and efficiently.

Doing maintenance also leads to future install work. Andrew says, “If you don’t do maintenance, a lot of the times you'll never see that client again after your install is done. You've worked so hard to get that customer and then just to let someone else come in and do the maintenance.

“With a paver maintenance business, you're always in front of your customer. Then 2 or 3 years down the road they're ready to add a patio or a driveway you’re the one they call. You're their paver person.”

Getting into maintenance
Andrew had been scheduled to do a presentation at HNA 2020 on how to start a paver maintenance business. With the show cancelled, his presentation will become a webinar as part of ICPI’s Residential Professional Series.

Among his primary recommendations for getting started in maintenance work is to talk to suppliers. “Get a hold of the manufacturers. Go have lunch with the sales reps. That's the best way to learn what’s involved.

“Make sure that they've got a really good contractor training program to go with their products because that can make or break your company. And that's an internal thing as well. You need to have a really robust training system going on within your company.

“You can't just give maintenance chemicals to guys and wave goodbye and hope that they don’t make any expensive mistakes. They're for professional use and you need a really good program to train your guys how to use them.”

Getting business
Once you learn maintenance, Andrew says the best place to look for work is from past installation clients. “If you've been in the contracting business over 5 years, you have a file cabinet full of gold, is the way I look at that. Especially if you don't do cleaning and sealing right now, what you need to do is hire a salesperson and have them start by calling your very first installation. ‘Hey, can we come by and take a look at the project?’”

After 3 years into PaverBright, Andrew says they now get the majority of their business through paver dealers. “We have our brochures at every paver dealer in town. People show up at their store complaining, ‘You sold me the sealer 5 years ago. And it's gone bad.’ That dealer is happy to pass that hot potato on to us. ‘Hey listen, here's a company that can pretty much do anything to these pavers that you need.’

“We put our price list right on the brochures because there's sticker shock when we go to the site and give pricing. If they have our prices and still call us, the process goes a lot smoother. It pre-qualifies people.”

Run as a separate division
Andrew believes in running a maintenance operation a separate division. He says having separate divisions allows you to more easily tell whether each operation is making money. It also allows you to assign employees to jobs they are most suited for.

“Cleaning and sealing is a different skill set. It requires different training. You have to be a lot more detail orientated, making sure there's no extra sand in the corners, making sure that everything's just perfect before you apply the sealer.

“The installation guys complain about doing maintenance because they want to lay pavers, right? You've got guys that install pavers very well, but they may not be that be cut out for cleaning and sealing.”


PaverBright often receives calls to strip film-forming sealers that have turned white due to over-application and due to Reno’s heavy freeze/thaw climate.

Spreading the word
Andrew had looked into franchising hardscape maintenance but found it to be a fairly arduous and highly regulated process. So he’s helping contractors startup paver maintenance businesses through the ICPI class and through consulting services. Visit AndrewVear.com

As of this fall Andrew is in semi-retirement in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico while Alex is running PaverBright day-to-day operations. “I'm really proud of him. The business is doing really, really well. We are so busy right now, we can't keep up.”

“Right now, I would love to tell the whole world, everybody, that paving stone maintenance is something that's not going away. People are installing more pavers every day that are going to need to be maintained.”


Andrew says they get a lot of calls for polymeric sand hazing. He attributes this to lack of training and the use of cheap polymeric sand. He says, “Quality polymeric sands are more expensive but they’re much harder to haze.”