I was born into the road construction industry. My great grandfather supplied road materials for the original construction of Highway 90 Beach Blvd in Mississippi, and my grandfather and father were both in the construction business after that.
As a child, I was around asphalt all the time. One memory that has stuck with me is how sticky asphalt can be. As a chore, I scraped asphalt off the floors of the emulsion plant, and it would stick to everything, including my clothes. Mom would make me strip down outside before I could come in the house after working! Even though it was a tedious and rough job, I learned a lot about asphalt adhesion in the process.
At that time, it seemed kind of crazy to combine the words “asphalt” and “innovation” in one sentence. No one seemed to be thinking about something as plain, generic – and sticky! – as asphalt, and making it into something better.
That memory of being covered in black, sticky material never left me. In the late 1990s, the Florida DOT stepped up and became the first in the country to challenge companies to make better products for their roads. Blacklidge answered the call. About a decade ago, after much experimenting, we created the original trackless tack, a premium product we now call UltraTack™. This product is the highest performing and fastest drying asphalt emulsion product on the market. No tracking means no sticky mess and less clean up – exactly what my childhood dreams were made of!
This process of innovating not just asphalt, but the asphalt industry, amazes me to this day. Blacklidge’s culture of innovation changes everything, including our employee satisfaction. I remember a time when people who made commodity asphalt weren’t excited about their jobs. It’s not hard to understand why not. However, when we started transforming our formulas and these same employees knew what we were trying to accomplish, they became much more enthusiastic about the work. The whole Blacklidge team now functions around the common desire to improve our products and create more value for our customers.
You may be curious what’s next on the horizon. I have a hunch: recycled products. Asphalt is the #1 recycled product in the United States, and my prediction is that all roads will soon be made out of even more recycled materials. This path is one of the best ways to build better roads for less money.
The evolution of asphalt has really just begun. We look forward to taking you along for the ride through this blog and our new products.