After 35+ years, Maryland company finds liberation in changes brought by stringless solution
Conducted properly, any business can be a positive, evolving, continually learning experience. Resisting the call for improvement can often lead to failure; heeding it can help ensure success and growth. No one knows that better than Jerry Bowman who, after more than three decades in business, and sensing impending change within the industry, chose to dramatically upgrade his paving process. The addition of a stringless, millimeter-grade GPS solution from Topcon Positioning Systems to his existing stringline machines opened his eyes to a world of new possibilities. Not only has it freed his operation from the metaphoric shackles of stringline and its man-hour-intensive tasks, it has also reduced his reliance on the schedules of others, a dependence that has cost him productivity in the past. Saying: “in with the new,” even in a limited fashion, never felt so good.
First Time’s a Charm
For most of us, our earliest jobs were little more than a way to make spending money, to assert our independent nature and to serve as steppingstones into the adult world. For Jerry Bowman, it was a different feeling entirely; for him the curb and gutter business grabbed hold at an early age and literally never let go.
“When I was a teenager, a guy from our neighborhood went into the curbing business,” he said. “Because he also rented space from my dad to store his paving machine, I found out that he needed help and, even though I knew nothing about curb and gutter, I went to work for him. I really took to it and stayed with him for a number of years.”
During that time, Bowman learned the paving business but, more importantly, saw the opportunity there was for curb and gutter work in and around the north-central Maryland area and beyond. In 1986, with that as a basis and his sister, Kim Driver, as a co-partner, Gerald D. Bowman Contractors, Inc. was formed.
As is most often the case, Bowman’s entry into the paving world was low-key and measured. Armed with a single Power Curber machine, he set out to make his mark on the Maryland paving scene.
“We started out small and continued that way for a number of years,” he said. “Then, when growth in the area took off, so too did the business. To meet the demand, we had to staff up and make additional equipment purchases. I never envisioned being a larger company — truth is, we grew without even trying.”
Today, Bowman runs three Power Curber paving machines and generally maintains a staff of about 50 people — not as huge as some, but admittedly bigger than he thought he’d ever be.