|Karvo Paving Company
Paves Road To Success
For many small business owners, a little bit of help from a dealer or supplier can provide the leg up that allows their company to prosper. In George Karvounides' view, Columbus Equipment Company played just such an
important role in the early days of Karvo Paving Company.
In 1988, Karvounides left Lerkis Asphalt, where he'd worked for 11 years, to start his own paving company. Initially working with “just a shovel and wheelbarrow,” he started doing the smallest of jobs—patchwork and driveways. Because he had contacts in the industry and had built a good reputation, he quickly moved to larger jobs like commercial parking lots. After a few months, he purchased a used paver from another contractor, but the track system was in bad shape and continually in need of repair.
In fall 1988, in the middle of a parking lot job, the track system went down again. “I knew it would be expensive to replace, and I couldn't afford it,” Karvounides said. He called the Columbus Equipment store in Richfield and asked about setting up a payment plan to replace the track system. “They were great. They put in a new track system, and I made installments through the winter to pay it off. It was a great thing Columbus Equipment did for me in my early stages. It's something I will never forget and a story I've told many people.”
Since those early days, Stow-based Karvo Paving has become a major paver in the state, employing up to 130 people in the busy season. Focusing on northeastern Ohio, the company does mainly ODOT and municipal highway work. Karvo handles both asphalt and concrete paving as well as any underground and dirt work required on road projects. Projects have included sections of Interstates 480, 271 and 77 near Cleveland. Recently, the company received a Smooth Pavement Award for work it has done for Cleveland Metroparks.
Last fall, Karvo Paving became the first company in Ohio to purchase the new Dynapac F1000T paver from Columbus Equipment Company. The biggest factor in the purchase decision was confidence in Columbus Equipment, Karvounides said. While the Carlson screed and other proven components on the machine were a selling point, “we also look at the dealer who is going to stand behind the machine. With our history with Columbus Equipment, we put a lot of emphasis on who will be representing Dynapac. After all, we have no history with Dynapac, but we know Columbus Equipment will honor and back up the equipment. It wasn't a hard decision to try the Dynapac.”
Karvo Paving actually purchased the F1000T without even giving it a test drive in the field. “We checked it
out in the yard, and met with people from Dynapac.” Additionally, Karvounides and his brother Gus talked to Columbus Equipment's GM of Service Ray Frase, formerly service manager at the Richfield store, to get his input. “We've had many dealings with Ray when he was a field mechanic—he was the one who changed the tracks on that first paver—and we put a lot of value on his knowledge.”
In fact, Karvounides has found Columbus Equipment's service department to be very knowledgeable about all the brands the contractor owns, including brands the dealership doesn't even carry. “Last summer I had them working on a Dresser grader. They found the problem after numerous other people were not able to. We trust the service department for all brands,” he said. The company also receives excellent service from the parts and rental departments.
Karvo Paving has been using a broad range of Komatsu equipment for the past dozen years. The first Komatsu machines the company used came to Karvo as part of an acquisition of another paving company, but they have performed so well that the contractor is sticking with Komatsu as machinery is replaced.
“Most of our excavators are Komatsus, and we have some wheel loaders made by Komatsu as well. We have found the Komtasu products are very reliable. They do a good job with very little maintenance. They experience very few breakdowns. We will continue to use the Komatsu brand products for those reasons,” Karvounides said.
“We love the zero-clearance 228 excavator and we also have some of the mini excavators, the 78. The guys are always requesting the zero-clearance machines in the field,” he added.
Tim Kresowaty has been Karvo's sales rep at Columbus Equipment for several years, and he actually called on Karvo previously for another dealership. “We were happy to see Tim go to work for Columbus Equipment,” Karvounides said. “He is very responsive. In fact, I say he has ESP because he seems to show up whenever I need him. I like Tim because he doesn't sugarcoat things. If he knows the answer, he'll tell you. If not, he'll find out. He doesn't make things up, and he never downgrades the competition.”
While Karvo Paving has grown in size and gained the respect of the Ohio paving community in the last two decades, some things haven't changed. Since the start, George's brother, Gus, has remained his right-hand man. “He came with me when I started Karvo Paving, and he has been with
me through thick and thin,” Karvounides said. “He has been a laborer, supervisor, mechanic, you name it.”
George's wife Anna has handled payroll and accounting since the beginning, as well. Recently a second generation joined the company when their son Yianni started working after graduating from college.
“The Karvounides have been around this business for a long
time and are very well respected,” Kresowaty said. “I believe they
truly enjoy doing business with Columbus Equipment, and that
feeling is mutual.”