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On the job with Jay Perry and Brian Keesee, pothole entrepreneurs

Joint venture: Two established Waldorf entrepreneurs have teamed up to launch a new business, still a one-truck operation, to fix potholes in a way they say is faster and cheaper than traditional methods.

Jay Perry, president of paving company Seal Pros, and Brian Keesee, president of Crown Trophy, founded Pothole Pros a year ago, with Perry learning about a new pothole repair system and convincing Keesee to join him in the venture.

“I get that question a lot,” Keesee said, asked why he had invested in an industry having little to do with trophies. “Jay and I were very like-minded. In the last couple of years we got together, talked shop, kicked around ideas for a new business. This is an idea he pitched to me. It’s obviously in his industry.”

New fix, old problem: Traditionally, fixing a pothole entailed removing the old asphalt, hauling it to an asphalt plant and filling the space left behind with fresh material, both men said. But Pothole Pros uses a new method, pioneered in the past decade or so, of using infrared light to melt the asphalt at the pothole and work it again. With fresh asphalt added, the road is left with a smooth patch, lacking edges that could let water back in to crack it again.

Because using infrared light allows workers to reuse existing asphalt, the system is faster and more resourceful than the old method, they said. It requires only one truck per job, compared to about three in the past, Perry said.

Declining budgets boon for company: Perry and Keesee look at shrinking state and local transportation budgets as an opportunity for corporate expansion. Penny-pinching governments are eschewing new projects in favor of keeping up existing roads and looking for the cheapest way to do it. Both tendencies are promising for Pothole Pros, they said.

“Due to the financial constrains that they’ve had, money is meant for maintenance, repaving and upgrading. Every year now, since the money is not much, the biggest hurdle is making sure maintenance is done. There’s really no room for repaving. They say, ‘We really need to make sure the potholes are fixed,’” Perry said.

The men are meeting with representatives of county governments and the state of Maryland, including the Maryland State Highway Administration, to tout their technology, they said.

“It seemed to be the perfect time to get into the business from a business standpoint,” Perry said.

They already have a second truck on order, and expect to buy another four in the next two years.

ERICA MITRANOGot an idea for someone to profile in On the job? Send your suggestions to Angela Breck at abreck@somdnews.com or 7 Industrial Park Drive, Waldorf, MD 20602. Call 301-764-2847.