The four newest Kenworth T800s at Valley Paving in in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area feature patriotic paint schemes promoting the four military branches: Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines.
Rich Carron, a Vietnam veteran, owns the company. He said about a dozen of his company’s 100 employees and owner operators have also served in the military.
“When we’re hiring, we absolutely look for military applications,” Carron said. “We’re one of 117 veteran-owned businesses in our state — Valley Paving is recognized for road and highway projects. It’s wonderful that the state has a commitment to working with veterans.”
The state’s DOT is making definite efforts to support veterans. The Minnesota Department of Transportation gives veteran-owned prime contractors up to a 6 percent preference on state-funded highway projects, with a maximum of $60,000.
Carron said he got into the paving industry in 1969, shortly after he returned to the United States from an 18-month tour in Vietnam.
“After I came back… I worked at a supermarket — the same one I had prior to my military service. But after a short stint, I decided I wanted to do something different,” Carron recalled. “While driving home one day I stopped at a highway construction site and asked if they had any job openings. They did and I started the very next day.”
Now Carron owns Valley Paving, a business he began when he was 28 years old. He attributes the success of his company to windrow elevators, which he discovered in California.
“They weren’t being used much in Minnesota, not at all within the metro area,” Carron said. “I saw how fast they allowed roads to be built. So I started using this technology and our productivity went way up. We figured it out before others in this area, however soon after, the rest followed. But, it helped launch our business and increased our ability to tackle larger projects.”
Valley Paving’s military-themed trucks aren’t just for show. Now that road building season has begun, the new trucks will be put to work on upcoming projects like a 13-mile repaving stretch on Highway 95 that is estimated to use 100,000 tons of asphalt and take 3 months to complete.
“We’re very excited to be putting these T800s to work and our drivers are chomping at the bit to get behind the wheel,” Carron said, adding that the trucks “really showcase who we are and our values.”