Abbey Paving Co. business succeeds with firm’s advice | Sikich Client Spotlight

Abbey Paving Co. business succeeds with firm’s advice | Sikich Client Spotlight

My name is John Gillian, I’m the Vice
President of Abbey Paving and I’ve been working with Sikich for six years. We
are a full service site construction company and we’ll do projects from repairs in
parking lots to resurfacing parking lots to multi-million-dollar site developments. We self-perform asphalt paving. We self perform concrete work including
curbs, sidewalks, concrete pavements. We also do our own in-house excavation. I believe we are the largest non-plant owning asphalt paving contractor in the Chicago area. So we do more asphalt than anybody else
who doesn’t own their own plant. That is part of our business plan because it allows us to travel all over
the geographic Chicago land area, whereas if we had a plant, we’d be tied to
the location of that plant and we’d have to service that plant so that limits our size and range quite a bit. I think the thing that we offer that a
lot of our customers don’t know about is the ability to help value engineer a project. Many of our customers, I think, we get a set of drawings and we’re expected to price them and perform the work exactly according to the specifications of the plan. 80 percent of the time that works
well. What we can offer is years of experience doing construction projects and often have solutions that can either save money or increase the quality or meet the customer’s needs in a way they might not of thought. In the height of the season, we have a
little over a hundred employees until 2005, we were a Subchapter S Corporation, family-owned and in 2005, we transitioned from a Subchapter S to 100 percent S Corp ESOP which is how we are currently organized. One of the real drivers to forming the ESOP was what happens to a construction company when the original owners don’t want to do it anymore? We had observed several companies that just pretty much closed their doors and sold their equipment at an auction. For employees coming here, the succession
plan is defined, it’s in employee stock ownership plan. They have the comfort of knowing that as long as there’s enough work in the state of Illinois and Abbey has done a good job
to demonstrate that it can get that work and perform it successfully. They know that
it’s likely that they’ll have continued employment. The ESOP not only handles the question of succession, but it also gives us the opportunity to manage the company tax-free in its current environment. It allows for some growth that we hadn’t anticipated originally. The strategy that we’ve employed surrounding that is to take the money that we otherwise would have paid in taxes and try to enhance the value of the
company through acquisitions and investments in other companies. We view the ESOP as a retention tool. Employees who come here have a vested interest in making this company profitable every single day. I think our first introduction to Sikich was at the time of the ESOP transaction. David Akermann who was the attorney who did our ESOP transaction, he referred us to Rick Thompson because as selling shareholder,s we had
some significant tax issues at the time of the transaction. And my personal experience with Rick was outstanding. He was able to save me truly significant dollars. From there, the relationship really blossomed, we met Greg McKnight who has lead us down the path of starting with reviews of our financials and now to the audit status. That process has
enabled us to get better grades for our bonding company. It’s enhanced our relationship with the bank, and probably most importantly, is it’s allowed us to compete on projects with the state of Illinois, and Illinois department of transportation. They are certain projects that you have to have audited financials to participate on. He offered really sound advice and I think what impressed me most is it was not theoretical, it was practical, good, experienced advice. I personally, really do value organizations, retail organizations, anything that I come in contact with. I personally value those organizations that do things very well. And our experience at Sikich, we’ve dealt with professionals throughout, from architects to engineers to accountants, attorneys and the quality thread that runs through that organization is very impressive to me. They are at the top of a very short list of professionals for us, that when we have an issue, we have something we’re thinking about, it’s likely we’re going to call them first and if they can’t help us, they’ll point us in the right direction.

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About the Author: Oren Garnes

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