Paving Company Gets Guidance from Illinois Tollway Technical Assistance Program As It Repairs Roads and Continues Growing
Dan Rojas feels at home when he drives on the Illinois Tollway system because his asphalt paving company has done so much work as a subcontractor on Tollway reconstruction projects over the last few years.
His small business, Metromex Contractors Inc., worked on the interchange that will link the new I-490 Tollway with the Jane Addams Tollway (I-90) in the Northwest suburbs. It’s working on the final stage of a new interchange that will connect the Tri-State Tollway (I-294) with I-57 in the Southwest suburbs. Metromex also is working on project to rebuild Ogden Avenue over I-294 as part of the Tollway’s Central Tri-State Tollway Project.
“We’re all over the place on the Tollway system,” said Rojas, president of Metromex, a company based in southwest suburban McCook that was started by his father, Fred, who remains at the helm of the growing family business and whom his son credits for their continuing success. “But we don’t mind—we like to do Tollway work. It’s helped us to become more financially stable.”
The firm has worked as a subcontractor on more than a dozen Tollway contracts since 2018, while also working on road projects for other transportation agencies in Illinois. It’s grown rapidly, graduating in 2021 from the Tollway’s Small Business Initiative because it exceed the maximum amount of annual revenue that allowed it to qualify for that program.
His company notched a new achievement last year when for the first time it won a bid to become the prime contractor on a resurfacing project related to the construction of a new interchange that will link I-490 to the Illinois Route 390 Tollway near O’Hare International Airport.
Metromex, which specializes in doing road-related asphalt paving work, is expected to begin work this summer on the project to resurface and repair York Road at Thorndale Avenue adjacent to the location of the new interchange.
Some of his success in working on Tollway projects, Rojas said, is a result of his participation in the Tollway’s Technical Assistance Program, which is designed to help small, diverse firms like his gain the knowledge and support needed to better compete for work on agency construction projects. His business joined the program in 2019.
All emerging firms are eligible to join the program, including disadvantaged, minority- and women-owned business enterprises (D/M/WBE) veteran-owned small businesses (VOSB) and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses (SDVOSB).
The program helped Metromex obtain the bonding and insurance required to handle larger projects.
“Bonding was something fairly new to us, so assistance with that helped us a lot,” he said. “The help we received with obtaining insurance was one of the biggest benefits we received from the program.”
Rojas also participated in the Tollway’s Rolling Owner Controlled Insurance Program, or ROCIP, which provides up to $25 million in liability coverage for on-site work to contractors working in the agency’s Small Business Initiative.
While contractors are still required to maintain their own liability coverage for off-site activities, participating in ROCIP helped his company save money on insurance coverage and use that savings to invest in other vital parts of his business, Rojas said.
“We’ve been able to put more money towards upgrading our equipment. That has been helpful, for sure,” said Rojas, whose business has grown to about 25 employees.
Now, when he’s driving with his family on the Tollway system, he frequently mentions to his three children the work his company has done on the roads they’re using.
“I point out to my kids the work we’ve done. I say, ‘we built this road,’” Rojas said. “There’s definitely a sense of pride. We’re an important part of a bigger picture that a lot of people use every day and depend on.”