Tough situations are inevitable, but learning how to adapt is easier said than done. Learn how Premier Pavement Solutions prospered through thick and thin.
Larry Lazzerini sees opportunity where others would crumble in defeat.
As the owner of Premier Pavement Solutions, 5059 Contractors Drive in Loves Park, he has been in business for more than 30 years and knows how to reinvent himself and adapt to circumstances beyond his control.
That recently included painting one of his trucks pink and giving a percentage of his earnings to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. In 2015, his wife, Teresa, was diagnosed with breast cancer. She has successfully completed treatment and is cancer-free.
“It’s a horrible thing to go through and it’s so hard on the family,” says Lazzerini. “You feel helpless. All you can do is ‘be there’ and be supportive. This is my way of giving back and showing my gratitude for the help my wife received from everyone.”
It’s not the first time Lazzerini has picked himself up, dusted himself off, and faced challenges head-on. He’s a person who looks for solutions rather than giving in and giving up. He attributes his strong work ethic and determination to time spent working alongside his father, who was in the homebuilding business for many years. Even before Lazzerini was old enough to earn a paycheck, he tagged along with his dad, helping in whatever ways he could.
“I’ve always been a ‘hands-on’ kind of person,” he says. He enjoys learning by doing. Although he felt his choices in life were limited, because he didn’t have a college education, his drive to succeed propelled him into places others only dream of going.
He went from helping his dad build houses to trying his hand at the automotive business. He started out changing oil and rust-proofing cars, and quickly rose to the level of an assistant manager for a Chrysler dealership. After that, he lived in Hawaii for a year, working as a service manager for a Dodge dealership, before returning to the Rockford area to start his own lawn care business.
Just a year into working for himself, a hot and dry summer caused lawns – and his business – to wither. So, he made what seemed like a natural move, from lawns to driveways, installing, repairing, and sealcoating driveways and parking lots. The pressure of starting two new businesses so close together, though, took its toll on him.
He says he felt “burned out and needing a break,” when he accepted an offer in Chicago to work for a small family paving and sealcoating business. It was his “dream job,” as he was putting his management skills to work, helping to build the company, and earning big bonuses. But then, family dynamics inside the business forced him out.
He came back to Rockford to build on what he had started in the asphalt business. As he reached out to former customers, they quickly responded and encouraged him. In business for himself as Premier Pavement Solutions, since 2012, he has experienced steady annual growth. Every year, he attends the National Pavement Association convention and trade show, for training and certification, and to update his knowledge on products, techniques and equipment.
Premier Pavement Solutions is a full-service asphalt company, specializing in sealcoating, infrared repairs, striping and markings, asphalt maintenance, crack filling, pothole repair, collapsed drains and snowplowing/salting, during the winter, for the City of Rockford and its residents.
A specially formulated Seal Master Brand sealcoat is made exclusively for his company by a manufacturer in Streamwood, Ill., and comes with a letter of authenticity. Latex and sand are added to the product to make it stronger, more flexible and durable, and to give it a grainy texture.
Sealcoating also improves the appearance of a driveway and protects it from the damaging effects of sun, water, salt and chemical spills like oil and gasoline from cars. The non-porous coating makes cleaning easier and provides a smooth surface for rain to wash away dirt and debris. Regular maintenance can double the life of a new driveway, Lazzerini says, and needs to be done between May and November, when the ground temperature is above 50 degrees.
What sets him apart from the competition is a good work ethic, quality workmanship, top quality products, well-maintained equipment and a professional image, says Lazzerini.
He calls it the “Premier Difference,” which consists of going to each home, before and after a job is completed, to make sure a customer is getting what they need and that the job is done right. Repeat customers have priority on the schedule and get discounted pricing. It’s his way of showing gratitude to the people who have helped him succeed.
Today, Lazzerini employs about a dozen people during the peak sealcoating season in summertime, and has a core team of workers for larger commercial jobs outside of Rockford and throughout the Chicago area.
Signs homeowners need to watch out for, in order to know when to replace or repair a driveway, include discoloration, the top of the driveway pulling away from the garage, deep cracks and holes where water can seep in, loose rock and broken edges.
Lazzerini cautions that many scam artists try to take advantage of homeowners, in his industry.
“You don’t know where they’re from, if they will be around, what’s in their product and how watered down it is. Sealer is a water-based product, but some people will add more water to make it go farther. If you’re paying a cheap price, chances are you’re getting a cheap product,” he warns.