Costa Rican Company’s Plan for Prosperity
Pavicen’s growth initially was slow and steady. “We grew, little by little, and growth meant hard work,” said Javier Apéstegui Arias, owner of the company.
Pavicen, based in Alajuela, Costa Rica, was founded in 1978. For nearly two decades the business was built around small-scale paving projects. But in 1995 Pavicen took a risk and invested in a quarry so it could provide its own aggregates. “Another venture was the purchase of a new asphalt plant,” Arias said.
The growth plan accelerated quickly from there. Five years later an even larger plant, with a capacity of 70 tonnes per hour, was purchased.
Recently, it became time to once again double capacity. That led the company to acquire an Ammann Prime 140 Asphalt-Mixing Plant with a capacity of 140 tonnes per hour. “Expectations and even the work volume now are almost forcing us to double production from the 70 tonnes per hour,” said Arias.
The plant is only part of the story because Pavicen handles all aspects of roadbuilding. “The plant provided much more asphalt mix capacity, and we needed to ensure the rest of the fleet could keep up,” Arias said. That meant finding paving and compaction equipment that could match the productivity pace of 140 tonnes per hour.
Pavicen turned to Ammann, which has products for every phase of road construction. The growth is continuing, with the Ammann asphalt plant and paving equipment helping the company meet its goals.
What are the keys to managing successful growth? Arias shared the observations that follow.
Slow growth is a great entrance to an industry. While growth was admittedly slow in the early years, it also gave Pavicen a chance to thoroughly learn the business. “Working on projects that were small in scale, such as paving and residential driveways, gave us an understanding of the business,” Arias said.
Many of those same lessons can be applied across a broader scale. Among them: the necessity for superior equipment that helps meet deadlines and quality goals.
Find a supplier that supports the entire product line. Pavicen’s growth meant taking on more projects – including some challenging jobs where quality and versatility were essential. “We had the plant, and then we needed better machines that provided great performance,” Arias said. “That’s when we thought about standardising the product line we used and going with a single brand.”
Pavicen chose Ammann to supply light compaction equipment, rollers, pavers – and even the asphalt plant.
A single brand helped operators apply experience gained from one machine to quickly learn how to operate another. Machines are also similar in terms of maintenance, creating further efficiencies. And the improved quality and productivity of the products ensured the crew in the field could keep pace with the plant.
Reliability was a key reason behind the purchase of the plant and the machines.
“Ammann provided very good quality machines that are easy to maintain, and the operators are very happy with them,” Arias said.
The machines also cover all phases of roadbuilding – even down to the light equipment level.
“The light machines also are very important to us,” Arias said. “We have plate compactors that we use daily in our jobs. We sometimes place thin layers of asphalt in tight spaces, and cover piping as well. In those places, we don’t want to use a large roller because of its size and weight. The vibratory plates are very helpful and of the highest quality.”
Maximise useful technology. Pavicen’s experience – including lessons learned during the early years of slow growth – taught Arias that technology is essential to productivity and quality.
“There are machines that have too much technology,” Arias said. “All Ammann machines have advanced technology, but also are simple. The operators feel at ease.”
Pavicen’s jobs typically require density testing, and the technology available in Ammann equipment ensures targets are met. That has led Pavicen to utilise the optional compactometer. “This allows the operator to constantly monitor the compaction of the base and sub-base. It has been very helpful.”
Workers don’t waste company time or fuel making more passes than are necessary. They also leave jobsites knowing that targets have been met. “The workers have more confidence in the results because of the technology,” Arias said. “The workflow has been much quicker and more efficient since we went to the Ammann fleet.”
Pavicen also utilises the Ammann AFW 350 Wheeled Asphalt Paver. “It has been a major upgrade in terms of quality for our company, because we didn’t have a finisher with a tamper or sensors. The technology in this machine has set us apart in the market.”
Pursue proper training. Even the most intuitive technology requires training time. “Ammann gave us the chance to train our staff in Europe and also sent people from Europe to show the operators how the pavers work,” Arias said. “This support was key in making the technology useful.”
These four important observations can help businesses in similar situations manage growth as they, too, create a plan for prosperity.
ACR 68 Rammer
Operators of all experience levels can have success with this Ammann rammer, a key Ammann customer explains.
AP 240 Pneumatic Roller
This roller properly seals asphalt lifts. It’s also manoeuvrable, despite its large size and amazing compaction output.
APF 1850 Vibratory Plate
Ammann customer Pavicen turns to forward-moving plates when space is tight but production is essential.
ARX 40 Compact Roller
For such a compact machine, this roller has plenty of weight to provide proper compaction, according to an engineer on this Costa Rican jobsite.
ASC 100 Soil Compactor
Does this soil compactor have visibility needed on all types of jobsites? This operator says, “yes.”
AV 70X Roller
This 7-tonne compactor packs the punch necessary to compact the thick lifts on this Costa Rican jobsite.
While other machines might struggle, this 10-tonne roller makes quick work of a 10-cm lift.