Work pours in after concrete cutting firm joins Illinois Tollways Technical Assistance Program
When he started Allstate Concrete Cutting more than 10 years ago, Mike Seay operated out of a cramped, 3,500-square-foot shop and relied on a workforce of about 8 employees, who primarily removed old concrete from roads and bridges so they could be rebuilt or replaced.
This year, he’s employing about 45 workers who are involved in a number of projects on the Illinois Tollway system, including removing old concrete on a portion of the Central Tri-State Tollway (I-294), taking down the Hinsdale Oasis pavilion and sealing new asphalt being laid on a six-mile stretch of I-94 in Lake County.
His company, which also working on projects outside of the transportation industry, recently moved into a 10,000-square-foot headquarters--although Seay already is considering another move to a bigger building to house his growing company.
“Little by little, I’ve grown,” said Seay, the president and chief executive officer of the firm, now headquartered in Elk Grove Village. “And this year, with these bigger jobs, I’ve really taken off.”
Part of his success, he said, is a result of his decision in 2017 to join 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. 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 Seay, who is Polynesian-American, by giving him a better understanding of the business operations he needed to master so his firm could take on larger projects.
“The Technical Assistance (Program) has really grown me tenfold in the last 3 or 4 years,” Seay said. “The back office support I get helped me on my bidding process tremendously. The tech support has been huge in backing me.”
That assistance with the business side of his operation, he said, allows him to concentrate on what he does best.
“I can focus 100 percent on the roadwork,” Seay said. “That’s all I do.”
As his business expands, Seay said when he runs into new issues to resolve, he still can obtain advice and guidance from the service providers in the program.
“The more I grow, the more I depend on the Technical Assistance (Program) for answers for the growth I’m going through,” he said. “I constantly use Technical Assistance to help me grow and go forward.”
He’s started to expand his business beyond concrete cutting and removal, working this year as a subcontractor on a $900,000 contract to seal the joints on newly paved asphalt on I-94 in Lake County.
“I wanted to diversify a little bit,” Seay said.
He worked to develop a new method of applying the sealant, which adds years of life to the roadway, and said he received significant support and encouragement from his Technical Assistance service provider as well as some customers, including Plote Construction and Walsh Construction.
“Without the Technical Assistance Program, I would’ve never been able to get such a high-profile job and then do the work in a timely fashion,” Seay noted.
He’s already looking ahead to expanding that side of his business “so I can take on all of the Tollway work.”
Down the road, he’d like to grow his business to the point where he can serve as a prime contractor on a project—preferably a Tollway project.
“That’s my goal, to get to the point where I can take on a project and bid it from start to finish, do all of it,” he said.