I’m Allan Henderson. This is my story, in-part. But it’s entirely the story of the creation of American Asphalt Repair & Resurfacing Company, Inc.
After working for seven years at Bay Area Sealers, I was out of a job when the company went belly up in 1982. I had worked there since I was nineteen when they were resurfacing streets for the City of Santa Rosa. The company owed me $20,000 in back pay and reimbursements. The owner agreed to give me an old broken slurry seal machine as repayment. It had no truck, no gears, no engines, and no parts – pretty much a useless shell. Even so, it was enough for me to start a business. All I needed was a bit of money and a lot of luck.
I incorporated in 1983 in Ukiah, issuing stock to my brother Rick as my attorney and my Mom for letting me stay at her house. Then I sold $4,000 more in stock to my friend Jon Carter and agreed to pay him 100% return for each year until I paid him back. I used my $268 weekly unemployment to buy tools, sprockets, gears, chains, welding supplies, and parts. At an auction, I bought a big tractor for $3,600. I mounted my slurry machine on it and then assembled the final pieces. But things weren’t easy…
In It For The Long Haul
The only way I could reload the slurry machine was to drive the truck 157 miles south to Redwood City. I would be the first truck of the morning at the gate of the Granite Rock Company to pick up oil. Once loaded with the emulsion in my slurry truck for asphalt repairs, it was a 110-mile drive back to Healdsburg for the rock. The last leg of the trip to Ukiah was a little dicey with a heavily loaded truck on the narrow, rough, dangerous roads.
My first job that summer was my Mom’s condominium parking lot in Ukiah. I worked day and night to get the machine ready to lay slurry. But I had no crew to help me – well, no experienced crew. Sort of like a pickup band, I had my brother Matt drive the truck, my brother Paul squeegeed, my friend John Carter worked the shovel, and I led as the operator. After some small breakdowns, a few bad mixes, embarrassing moments, and lots of sweat and tears, we got my first job laid. Mom beamed proudly. I heaved a sigh of relief. Best of all, that parking lot still has the original slurry on it after thirty years.
This Is How I Roll
Back in Ukiah, I got more driveway work. But the problem was, I had to assemble a new crew each day, depending on who would or wouldn’t show up. This went on until I was able to purchase a tanker with no wheels. I set it up in a vacant field. My days of driving back and forth to Redwood City were forever over. I had rock delivered and rented a loader to recharge the truck. Business was rolling!
Not The Taj Mahal
After that first year in Ukiah, I found a yard in Redwood City used by contractors, including Daren Young of DRYCO, another paving company. I begged them for a small space. My first office was a camper that would fit the back of a pickup. It was also where I lived. I would put the table/desk down at night, and my dog and I would sleep there in the yard. In the morning, I would put the table/desk up, hook up the phone, and grab my filing box. I showered at the local health club.
Nothing Better Than The Real Thing
Pretty soon, I was selling enough work to hire a real crew. I got Kim Henschel from Canada, who I worked with at Bay Area Sealers, and smooth-talked him into returning. I cut a deal with Bruce Yokum, the best line driver in the business. I agreed to fly him back and forth from Oregon once a month. I included a generous signing bonus if he would work with me for one year. I also rounded up a few other guys that I had worked with in the past. I’d put together the best crew in the business, and it showed!
Living The Dream
Soon we were doing large driveways in Atherton, Woodside, and Hillsborough. Parking lots and small streets were next. Up and down the peninsula, we were paving everything from shopping centers to 7-11s. Our big break came when we got the contract for Candlestick Park, then the Cow Palace, then parks and playgrounds. Before long, we had full city street projects. At that point, we had outgrown our yard. Best of all, I was able to buy a larger property in Redwood City that would be our home for the next eight years. I paid John Carter back for his investment 300%, and I bought back all the outstanding stock from my brothers and mother. At last, I was on my own.
Around 1995, I was approached to take part in an environmentally friendly paving recycling experiment. The idea was to put ground-up tires into the slurry seal and apply it to the city streets for Los Angeles County. We did our first job at an airport in the San Fernando Valley, then our first project for the City of LA. Soon we were doing pilot programs all over Southern California. We were the successful bidder for the first City of San Diego project and were awarded the next year’s contract without even going to bid. We now had a small office trailer set up in a field in San Diego and had established American Asphalt South. We worked out of there for three years before moving to Fontana, our current location. We were the low bidder for projects for the City of San Diego 20 out of the next 22 years, recycling millions and millions of tires!
Laying The Groundwork For Success
Since the first day we ventured out, it has been very important for us to do the best job we could. We have never been after the dollar. We strive to give the very best product and service we can at a fair price. This philosophy has helped us become a leader in the pavement maintenance industry. We now specialize in all aspects of concrete and asphalt repairs and paving solutions, sealcoating, slurry surfacing, and striping. Our capabilities align us to be a one-stop resource for all your parking lot, walkway and roadway needs. We work with clients across a multitude of industries, including commercial, industrial, homeowners’ associations, manufactured housing communities, schools, wineries, special event centers, and more.
As our capabilities have grown, so has our team, and they are the true key to our success! We are a very people-oriented company, and because of that, our team performs their jobs with an enormous sense of pride and loyalty! We now have over 150 dedicated employees at our American Asphalt company office in Hayward and 80 at American Asphalt South in Fontana. Many have been with us for 10, 20, and even 30 years and counting! I find if we take care of our customers, they will take care of us. In turn, we take care of our employees, and they will take care of our company. In 2020, I made the decision to sell part of the company to the employees. As of this year, all employees received shares so they too can benefit from the success of American Asphalt. Now, when you talk to an American Asphalt employee, you are also speaking to the owner!