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Archive for September, 2015

ATSSA – Why Stripers Should Charge for Surface Preparation

Tuesday, September 15th, 2015

better than waterblasting

Open Letter for Stripers to Attend ATSSA Workshop

James S. Baron, Director of Communications for ATSSA, contacted me after reading the article Why Stripers Should Charge for Surface Preparation.”

Jim said, “Steven, our industry needs to do more to convince DOTs to consider this important surface-prep phase of the job with the same level of importance as the pavement marking itself.”   He then asked if I would help put together a workshop regarding roadway surface preparation prior to applying the pavement marking, to be given the upcoming ATSSA Convention/Traffic Expo in New Orleans.

After careful consideration, I volunteered for the workshop, as both moderator and panel expert, together with Mark W. Bott., P.E., Michigan DOT; Juan Arvizu, Pavement Marking, Inc.; Raymond Somich, Dow Chemical; and Michael Boeger, Potters Industries.

Title of the workshop: “Before the Striping: Roadway Surface Preparation: A time-consuming service that’s worth a charge because it extends the life of the pavement marking.”

Workshop description: Many times, a pavement-marking company will be awarded a contract, only to find out the surface preparation phase was an afterthought, if it had been given any consideration at all. As a result, time, money, and manpower are utilized – often times without financial compensation – to adequately prepare the surface for the pavement-marking application. This panel of experts will discuss the time and effort that goes into properly preparing a roadway surface before the pavement marking is applied, and why it should be a critical first phase of any pavement-marking job. The panel will also discuss ways to ensure that surface preparation is included in the contract.

As moderator, I will be contacting leading pavement marking contractors and DOT specifiers to share their “Prep-Before-Stripe” experiences for use in the program

Years ago, everyone thought my father was crazy when he first introduced durable thermoplastic markings as founder of Pave-Mark. This was a time when everyone was paying up to 20X less for traffic paint. Fifty years later, wider, brighter, and more-durable markings are now the standard, and are specified on most roadway marking projects.

Today, our industry should add the word deeper to the conversation. Deeper is the logical next step to elevate stay-in-place pavement-marking standards. Applying markings deeper assures a mechanical bond, rather than a more-unsure surface bond. Wider, brighter and deeper durable markings benefit everyone – the striper, the specifier, and the driving public.

As a former striper, I know that a properly applied stripe only lasted as long as the surface to which it was applied. When the stripe failed due to the structural integrity of the surface, I felt it was unfair to penalize the striper (me) due to the poor road-surface conditions that are out of the striper’s (my) control. Until the surface-preparation portion from the striping contract is a separate paid consideration, it is the belief of many that the prep work will not be done properly, and the stripe will continue to prematurely fail. Proper surface preparation is not just with a brush or a blower, but is obtained by changing the concrete or asphalt surface characteristics to a state that is properly clean, dry, sound, and profiled.

Getting surfaces properly prepared takes time, hard work, and money. Where will the money come from? What will be the work-zone opening delays? What tools are required to properly accomplish the work? What are the true costs and benefits when proper surface prep is (or is not) done? These are the tough questions that will be tackled during the workshop, and the results will help elevate standards that are long overdue for our industry.

A lot of times, stripers think they’re crazy, but in that craziness I see a true hero, and it’s the reason I volunteered for this workshop. Please also read my tribute to the Striper, “Heros of the Highways.

Thank you and best removal,

Steven Smith

SMITH Manufacturing | SSPS,Inc.
1610 S. Dixie Hwy | Pompano Beach, FL 33060+8913 USA
P: 954-941-9744 | F: 954-545-0348  | E:

Our Mission:
SMITH is the world’s leading brand of high-performance removal tools.
SMITH Ultra-Premium-Life Cutters perform best on all machines.
SMITH employees are dedicated to help make our customer’s hard work faster and easier.

Organizational Checkup Removal Survey

Monday, September 14th, 2015

Are you getting paid for the surface-prep (rem10 question organizational checkup surveyoval) work you are now giving away?

Please share your experiences by answering these 4 questions, then completing the short survey.

  1. How are you getting paid for the work, not specified, on your contracts?

  2. What type of surface-prep work are you now giving away?

  3. Do you ask for a change order when the surface is not in the same condition as described in your bid documents?

  4. What steps do you take, to prevent bond failures, when the surface is too porous or too smooth?

If you are looking to improve your surface preparation work, taking this 10-question organizational checkup survey is the first step.

Find out how your organization compares with others who perform surface-preparation work on concrete or asphalt by taking this short Organizational Check-up Survey:


Welcome to your Organizational Removal Checkup Survey

This checklist assures operations are at the highest level of readiness to complete their current and upcoming removal (surface-prep) projects.


Please share your experiences by answering these 4 questions, then completing the short 10 question survey.


Are you getting paid for your surface-prep work using scarifiers, grinders, erasers, blasters or stripe removers?

Are you getting paid for your surface cleaning work using brooms, blowers or pressure washers?

Do you ask for a change order (to prevent bond failures) when the surface is not in the same condition as described in your contracts (surfaces are unsound, very porous or very smooth)?

Please answer these 10 questions about your removal (surface-prep) operations on a scale from 1 to 5


1 = Strongly Disagree • 2 = Disagree  • 3 = Neither Agree or Disagree • 4 = Agree • 5 = Strongly Agree

We have a clear vision in writing of our removal (surface-prep) operations that has been properly communicated and is shared by everyone.

Our removal (surface-prep) specifications are clear, and written as a separate line item in our contracts, and we are reviewing, planning and operating around them.

Our removal (surface-prep) process is clear, and our systems and procedures to complete the work reflect that.

We have the right removal (surface-prep) equipment and the right consumables to consistently deliver the desired surface finishes (profiles) for all our jobs.

Our removal (surface-prep) equipment and consumables are properly serviced, and our efforts are focused on maintaining it.

Our personnel are properly trained to prepare for any concrete or asphalt surface or marking material inconsistencies by using the correct equipment and consumables to achieve the correct surface finishes (profiles).

We have a proven removal (surface-prep) process for doing the right removal (surface-prep) work without damaging the surface or changing the surface characteristics that our customers expect. It has been named and visually illustrated, and everyone is adhering to it.

All of the people involved in our removal (surface-prep) operations are the right people who are properly trained and want to do the job correctly.

We keep daily records of our removal (surface-prep) operations using a daily job log to record all variables, and to track our performance metrics.

Everyone practices safety first on the job by using the right PPE (personal protection equipment) and dust collection equipment to protect the operator, job site, and the environment.

If you would like to receive the results from this survey, please complete your contact information below. Thank you for participating in our survey!

NameCompanyEmailPhone Number

SMITH Wins APWA “Best in Show and Best Booth Award”

Monday, September 14th, 2015

SMITH wins APWA Best in Show 2015

APWA Names SMITH “Best in Show and Best Booth”

At the 2015 American Public Works Expo, SMITH Manufacturing received the prestigious  “Best in Show” and “Best Booth” Award.

It was the first time that one exhibitor has won both awards. Pictured (R-L) at APWA 2015 are SMITH Manufacturing representatives Isaac Wilson and Steven Smith.

SMITH offers fast and easy removal solutions to help hard working contractors achieve safer and longer lasting concrete and asphalt surfaces.

© 2017 SMITH Surface-Prep Solutions - 1610 S. Dixie Highway, Pompano Beach, FL 33060-8913
Toll Free: 1-800-653-9311 | Ph: 954-941-9744 | Fax: 954-545-0348
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