RER: What is involved in correctly marketing traffic safety equipment? What kind of equipment is required?
Milne: If you want to do it right, the barriers to entry are high. While the cost of traffic safety makes up a small part of the overall job, the potential exposure to the prime contractor is high. A prime contractor has to rely on you getting the job done right, and that requires extensive experience and training. The job is not as simple as it looks, as many newcomers quickly and painfully learned. Our employees are well trained, which is one of the key reasons we win repeat business.
Why are fatalities in and around construction sites increasing? Are not enough precautions being taken?
There are several reasons for the increase in fatalities in work zones. For one, much of the construction work in recent years has shifted from the daytime to nighttime, when visibility is diminished as well as a higher number of impaired drivers on the road after sundown. In addition, the increase in highway construction spending in the past few years has led to several marginal traffic safety companies entering the market to take advantage of the higher market demand, sometimes at the expense of safety.
Take us through the steps to properly set up a traffic safety company.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that our customers come to us because of our expertise, not our equipment. The equipment we rent are the tools that we need to do the job. Our traffic control systems serve the function of providing the traveling public with advanced notice of a work zone.
The major government agencies that oversee highway constructions, such as the Federal Highway Administration and the states' Department of Transportation, have adopted standardized and uniform traffic control systems and device specifications. On many projects, a certified traffic control specialist is required to set up these systems. Traffic control is usually the first piece of work to occur on a highway project and the last to come down. Getting it right is a serious and demanding business.
How do you see the future of the traffic safety rental market?
In general, I would expect the level of professionalism in the industry to increase and those companies that are truly committed to excellence most likely to succeed. At the same time, we can expect to see continued growth in nationwide infrastructure projects.
The fact is that highway capacity has not kept pace with automobile growth. Since 1970, the number of licensed vehicles has grown by 87 percent, while highway capacity has increased by only 6 percent. Our highway system is the lifeblood of our nation and to assure economic growth we need to continue to maintain and improve our roads.