Asphalt Shortage – Flip flopping your sealer? again, what to do now?

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    Hi pavemanpro’s, i just returned from a 10 day western business trip. I was surprised to learn that Sem materials, one of the largest asphalt producers/suppliers in the USA filed chapter 11 a few weeks ago. What does that mean to you pavemanpro’s? Well first, who is Sem Materials? Sem is one of the largest producers of paving grade asphalt with millions of barrels of storage that serviced all the united states, Canada, Mexico. They refine from sour crude which makes a vast array of paving grade asphalts. Everyone is feeling this pinch from the supply shortage to non available! I have at least a dozen emails asking me what is going to happen to the asphalt industry. Well here is my take on the situation. Sem sent out letters on the day they filed chapter 11 stating the situation they were in and what they foresee as the direction for the future. Sem tells of a for-sure interruption in supply and that they will try to fulfill existing supply contracts for a limited period of time. So i figure we in the mid-west should start feeling the pinch about now. Asphalt producers have already felt the shortages of paving grade asphalt, and the pavement sealer manufacturers are next in line. The escalation of the pricing structure is first, then the shortages, then the non available happens. This happened a couple years ago for you who weathered that storm. refined coal-tar price drove the contractor to asphalt based sealers and when the coal-tar allotments went dry, everyone had to use asphalt based sealers. Remember! Well guess what, flip flop that scenario now. If you can find asphalt based sealer, you will probably will be paying .35 cents a gallon more than coal-tar sealer. That is if you can find asphalt based sealer! Yes, CTPE is back in full force. It is becoming cheaper than asphalt based sealers and is now in good supply! Go figure that one out??? now you have to again change all your sales pitches, literature, and go back to the good ol days pushing coal-tar. It isn’t so bad, you probably cut your teeth on coal-tar as i did and am just glad it is available. I would not change a thing but finish out the year with coal-tar as you did with asphalt based two years ago. Do all you pavemanpro’s see how resilient you are? Do you know of any-other industry that services its customers with asphalt, blended, and coal-tar sealers. We always had a choice up until now. We in manufacturing spend much time assisting contractors in these type of changes. First, if you are back to applying coal-tar, you for sure want to incorporate an additive as my Targel-plus, Fsa, or Fass Dri psa. These additives are formulated to beef up the sealer film and as always dry and cure the sealer film fast! Will make your sealer dry blacker also. Yes, we all must make it to the end of the season. Most sealer manufacturers that i service have just coal-tar available now at a somewhat reasonable price. Few have asphalt based sealer available, but at a premium cost. For those of you that have a blended sealer you may incorporate my Fsa-ae, or Targel-plus. We will all weather this flip flop in products and have a good fall rush and finish it out with coal-tar sealer. The crack in the door for all the western manufacturers that snuck in the eastern back door markets due to the coal-tar shortage two years ago, have slowly and will resend into the woodwork due to the lack of asphalt for manufacturing or product failures that occurred during this time in our industry. There is no doubt the asphalt based sealer has made it into the mix nationwide, and will continue to do so, however history is repeating its self and will as long as the worlds volitile oil markets continue to be unstable. You must adapt or be part of the “shrinking of the pavement maintenance industry” as i wrote about earlier. Its OK to flip flop your sealer to finish out the season, we did it two years ago, and we can do it again. So hang in there and remember to incorporate additives now more than ever to maximize the performance of your pavement sealer, no matter what kind or type. Additives are a must.

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