We had the opportunity to speak with Mark Musselman, who just recently became President of the Asphalt Contractors Association of Florida. He shared a bit about his background, how the asphalt industry in Florida is responding to COVID-19 and insight on the future of road construction in the state.
How did you begin your career?
I was born into the asphalt industry. My father worked for the Florida Department of Transportation for 30 years. I attended the University of Florida to study civil engineering, and then pursued a master’s degree in civil engineering at Auburn to enhance my career growth opportunities. During dinner one evening with the director of the National Center for Asphalt Technology (NCAT), he encouraged me to help work on a project as a graduate research assistant. This enabled me to complete my research thesis on “Life Cycle Cost Analysis for Pavement Type Selection”. I also researched the performance of high RAP mixes, and transportation funding.
What led you to a career in the asphalt industry?
While at Auburn, I was really into mountain biking. I would ride the trails of Chewacla State Park and on the backside of the park was an aggregate mine. I found the whole operation fascinating. As part of my studies, I had an opportunity to tour that facility. Upon graduation, I worked for two different aggregate companies. The first was CEMEX in Fort Myers, Florida. After that, I worked for Vulcan Materials in Atlanta. At both organizations, I was the asphalt guy who worked with asphalt companies.
What made you pursue your current role as President of ACAF?
Working at Vulcan by day, I attended night school and obtained my MBA from the University of Georgia at their satellite campus in Atlanta. After finishing, I wanted to see what other opportunities were out there and that’s when the job of President of the Asphalt Contractors Association of Florida came open. Honestly, this was my dream job and I felt my background was suitable, so I went for it. This is a very exciting position to be in.
What is your vision for ACAF and the asphalt industry in Florida?
The association in Florida has been exceptionally successful for the last 63 years and I see a bright future for the asphalt industry – one full of innovations, especially in our state. The way people are using transportation is fundamentally changing with rapid advancements in self-driving vehicles. This will necessitate new engineering challenges for road construction due to the fact that they tend to drive in straight lines and use cameras and processors, which operate best with enhanced road graphics and markers. We also need to increase participation in the association because meeting the state’s needs moving forward will require all of us in the industry to work together to address the coming challenges.
How do you think the industry as a whole is responding to the COVID-19 crisis?
I’m proud of the way the Florida asphalt industry has responded. Not only have we kept working, in many cases we have accelerated project timelines to take advantage of the decreased traffic on the road. We implemented social distancing, sanitization and even eliminated all paper on job sites. I think it’s a real testament to the talent of the contractors in Florida.
With infrastructure funding coming from tolls and gasoline taxes, how will road construction in Florida be affected?
We’re currently hearing that revenues are down anywhere from 30 to 50 percent. Now granted, it’s only been a few months since the pandemic started and we are really hopeful that we’ll be able to bounce back and just see a slight dip. But, we are also realistic that it may be longer. To me, this seems like a fantastic time to get America back to work and fix our bridges and roads with a sizable investment from the federal government. If things get worse for the country, economically speaking, I think it’s just going to become more and more clear how this is the investment that can restart our economy and it can be done safely, as Florida has shown.
Despite the many uncertainties and challenges we are facing, I look forward to leading our state in finding road-building solutions that will keep driving us forward.