Hashem has been in the asphalt industry for 28 years, the last eight here at Polyco. He brings his wealth of knowledge and experience in chemistry, recycled tire rubber and polymer modified asphalt to his role as our Director of Technical Services — and we’re lucky to have him on our leadership team. We spoke to Hashem about his career, interests outside of work and what he likes to eat!
How would you describe your job at Polyco?
I primarily work on improving the performance of Sigmabond. Making a product that customers are satisfied with allows us to build good, long-term relationships. I’m very proud of that.
What do you like most about working at Polyco?
The opportunity to be creative and get support for my ideas.
Where do you call home?
I live in Dallas, Texas and have lived here for the past eight years.
What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
Lately, I’ve been very motivated to do some gardening in my backyard. It gets extremely hot here in the summer, so I’m trying to do more now.
What’s your favorite food?
I like a good prime steak cooked medium. I’m a meat lover!
Here at Polyco, we believe providing a culture of safety directly impacts the quality of the products we produce. The practices and standards we follow truly set us apart. I’ll explain further how we implement these principles to drive operational excellence every day.
Safety is of the utmost importance. I’m so proud of our record — no major safety incidents! We ensure this by doing a root cause analysis of safety issues or near misses. All of our employees are empowered to report near misses in order to prevent an actual safety incident from even happening. For example, if we don’t address a slow leak of hot oil, it could turn into a big problem and burn someone. Once a safety hazard is identified, we document it and, as a team, decide how best to address it — assigning a due date and responsible party who is accountable.
Our next focus is fostering our culture. We ensure our team has the resources they need to do a great job and feel safe and happy doing it. When employees feel engaged, they will perform better. While each of our plants has its own personality, they all value community. Covid slowed some of our community events, but we are getting back to it. We are hosting a BBQ cook-off this month and have other events that build connections. It’s not just our plant workers; Our leadership shows up! It’s not uncommon for our President & CEO to fly in from our corporate office in Reno at least once a month to check-in on our Texas locations. And, with the magic of video conferences, we get a lot more face time which keeps the lines of communication flowing.
Quality is of utmost importance to us. Not only do we do quality testing as part of production, we also have an entire quality assurance department that continuously tests raw materials and product retains, watching for data trends so we can react before anything is an issue. Our trending models show us if there is special cause variation or drifts in our processing. This allows us to pinpoint potential issues quickly and react before anything goes out of specification — all in service of delivering a quality product.
While we are constantly looking at ways to improve our operations, our four pillars of safety, culture, quality and customer service are always top of mind. A focus on high performance — from both our employees and products — is what drives us. And we’ll never stop.
Michael is a rising star at Polyco. After being with the company for just a year, he’s already being promoted — and will transition to his new role as Research Engineering Manager soon! We spoke with Michael about his most recent position as our Operations Manager, his interests and what he likes about working at Polyco.
How would you describe your job at Polyco?
I work at our Ennis, Texas plant to safely produce products to our customer’s specifications in a cost-efficient manner. I coordinate with all the cross functional teams — whether it’s R&D, logistics, maintenance or safety.
What do you like most about working at Polyco?
What I enjoy doing most is working with a team to solve the most challenging problems a business faces. Seeing something that was seemingly impossible and then come out victorious is a great feeling. Luckily at Polyco we’ve got a great team and I love working with them.
What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
I love to learn, so I am always reading or in school. I’m working on my MBA through West Texas A&M right now. For fun, I love playing sports. Polyco has a local softball team and we play pretty much year round, so that’s a lot of fun. And I like cycling, so a lot of times I can be found cruising the roads.
Where do you call home?
I live in Fort Worth right now, but I’ve been in Texas for five years. I’m originally from Connecticut, born and raised. I even went to college at the University of Connecticut.
What’s your favorite food?
Everything! But if I had to pick just one thing, it would be pizza. It’s just amazing. I love all toppings but the best, for me, is probably buffalo chicken.
As Women’s History Month winds down, we’re reminded of the importance of empowering women at our company and in our industry. This month, we celebrated this occasion by increasing our support of Women of Asphalt. As the year goes on, our commitment to empowering women will continue and we are proud to share what that looks like for Polyco.
Women of Asphalt Platinum Partner
This year, we became a Platinum Partner for the Women of Asphalt. With our contribution, we are supporting WofA’s mission to help promote, educate and empower women within the asphalt industry.
Additionally, an opportunity presented itself recently to further support the organization at the TXAPA MAPS Conference. We auctioned our basketball hoop display to attendees earlier this month to benefit the new Texas chapter of WofA. This raffle raised $2,400 for the organization and WofA Texas was able to keep the display, so keep an eye out for it at future events.
Polyco continued to uplift WofA’s presence at World of Asphalt through sponsorship of their video and social media content. And, leading up to the event, we helped them produce a series of sponsor highlights. Stay tuned to our Linkedin for updates from the conference. If you missed any of WofA’s sponsored events at World of Asphalt, you can catch replays on Facebook.
Empowering Women at Polyco
Closer to home, we’ve opened up our blog to more diverse voices at our company. This month, our Customer Service & Logistics Leader, Kaylea LaBee, discussed her role in maintaining successful customer relationships. Next month, we’ll hear from our Director of Operations, Shelley Locker, about how she keeps our company functioning like a well-oiled machine. We’ll hear from more of our female leaders throughout the year and look forward to seeing all women of asphalt excel.
In an industry that is hyper-focused on the product, maintaining solid customer relationships is vital to our success. Meeting and exceeding the expectations of every customer at every location is extremely important to our business. It takes all of us — from our sales and technical teams to operations — to ensure our material is delivered on time and in spec. How do we do it? It starts with trust.
Being transparent with our customers helps foster that accountability. When a customer service email is sent to Polyco, it not only goes to my department but also logistics, operations and the spec team. There’s a whole team to back me up to ensure our customers are taken care of. Once an order is placed, I follow up with our internal teams before confirming the order with our customer. Whether customers need a rush order or are stockpiling a month out, it’s our responsibility to be mindful of their unique ordering processes.
We are flexible and amenable to meet our customers’ needs, so there aren’t any surprises when we send a BOL or invoice. Being small (but mighty) has its advantages. We can more easily modify hours and personnel availability to accommodate receipt, offload and load times.
We also have great relationships with our carriers — some of them have worked with us since the company’s inception. Once we get a carrier nailed down, we follow up with our customer orders to confirm logistics. Weekly check-ins are vital to ensure orders stay on track. Once orders are shipped out, we stay in open communication with our carriers daily in an effort to avoid delays. The entire process is monitored all the way through delivery and invoicing.
It’s an honor to work alongside a great team to deliver amazing customer service. I look forward to helping Polyco continue to foster our customer relationships as we move the needle on sustainable performance asphalt products.
Here at Polyco, we consider everyone we align ourselves with a partner, including the organizations we support. In the past year, we’re proud to have expanded our affiliations to include organizations that are working to improve the asphalt industry for all. We’re excited to share how these relationships will take shape throughout the year.
Women of Asphalt
In 2022, we’re proud to support the Women of Asphalt as one of their Platinum Partners. With our contribution, we are supporting WofA’s mission to help promote, educate and empower women within the asphalt industry. Additionally, we’re excited to uplift WofA’s presence at next month’s World of Asphalt through sponsorship of their video and social media content. If you’re planning to attend the conference, we hope to see you there! If you can’t make it, stay tuned to our Linkedin for updates from the event.
Asphalt Institute Foundation
I am proud to be the Vice Chair of the Asphalt Institute Foundation and Chair of its Education Committee, which funds asphalt research, internships and scholarships through a variety of programs. In addition to my tenure, Polyco supports AIF’s distribution of educational materials to universities across the U.S. and Canada. In fact, this week we will deliver modules and support manuals to engineering students at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas. Engaging students with such close proximity to our Texas locations will hopefully spark an interest in the industry for soon-to-be graduates.
Asphalt Institute and Asphalt Pavement Alliance
Polyco is also deeply connected to AIF’s parent organization, the Asphalt Institute. Our Chief Operating Officer, Daniel DeJarnette, is part of AI’s Roofing Technical Committee — which is an important part of our business. I had the honor of serving one term as AI’s Vice President and continue my service to the organization as one of AI’s representatives at the Asphalt Pavement Alliance. Because APA is a coalition of the Asphalt Institute, National Asphalt Pavement Association and State Asphalt Pavement Associations, it’s a great way to keep a pulse on the most pressing needs of the industry.
National and State Asphalt Pavement Associations
As our footprint grows on the paving side of the asphalt industry, we’re proud to be members of NAPA, TXAPA, OAPA in Oklahoma and CalAPA. Aligning ourselves with these organizations in key markets helps to advance the science and use of asphalt on our roads. We look forward to engaging more with industry insiders throughout the year at members-only meetings.
I can’t wait to see what lies ahead for Polyco and look forward to strengthening our partnerships. It’s going to be a great year!
As we settle into the new year, I’m reminded of the challenges the asphalt industry faced in 2021 and how we’ve worked (and continue to work) to rise above them. From pandemic-related shutdowns and extreme weather in several of our markets to workforce retention and supply chain setbacks, we’ve watched our customers and partners pivot on a dime to adapt. And, we’ve adapted along with them. Last year gave us some valuable lessons that we will continue to carry with us as we look ahead.
Green Isn’t Going Away
Being sustainable is no longer a “nice to have.” More and more states are adopting sustainable practices, which has impacted both our roofing and paving customers. Many refineries have converted to renewable sources of energy in order to reduce their carbon output. And, on the paving side, states and municipalities are increasingly enthusiastic about adding more recycled materials (including recycled asphalt shingles) to their asphalt mix as a way to stretch their budgets. Additionally, as supply chain woes continue to impact raw materials sourcing, organizations throughout the industry are looking for more ways to draw down their reliance on imported resources.
Longer-lasting is the Way to Go
Extending the life cycle of pavements and shingles makes sense from both financial and sustainability standpoints. The longer they last, the longer before they need to be replaced, reducing waste. As roofing manufacturers are pushed to offer near-lifetime guarantees, they will inevitably look for ways that make them more resilient. In road construction, the industry has experimented with several ways to extend a pavement’s life — from additives and higher-quality mix formulations to the practice of “Perpetual Pavements.” The Asphalt Pavement Association has written at length about “Perpetual Pavements” and more local agencies have latched on to the concept. Perpetual pavements can resist structural fatigue distress for at least 50 years, which is significantly longer than traditional asphalt.
Polyco is Positioned to Perform
As the asphalt industry continues to adapt to meet the needs of the market, Polyco is poised to meet customers where they need to be. We understand that everyone’s needs are different. This is why everyone here — from our lab personnel to our operations team — pride themselves on customizing and delivering asphalt formulations that exceed customer expectations. Our Sigmabond product is an example of this innovative mindset. Sigmabond is a rubber modified asphalt that enhances the performance of asphalt products using end-of-life tires. In addition to our products and practices, the most important element we bring to the table is our people. Each and every one of us values a job well done and ensures that we take care of each other so that we can take care of our customers.
With our commitment to sustainability and innovation firmly in place, I’m looking forward to seeing what exciting developments lie ahead of us this year and beyond.
I’ve been traveling a lot lately — taking our new Sigmabond product on the road from Texas to Tennessee. I’ve loved talking to folks about the sustainable and high performance properties of Sigmabond — and how it can lead to longer lasting roads when added to a hot mix formulation. The trade shows have also given me an opportunity to learn and keep a pulse on what’s happening in the industry. Here are a few highlights from my recent travels.
In September, I attended TXAPA’s Annual Meeting in San Antonio. This year’s theme was ELEVATE!, as in elevate your expectations for communication, performance and most importantly — QUALITY. Sigmabond definitely fit the bill of this year’s theme, and Polyco was able to communicate this with DOT engineers and contractors who attended. The former were especially interested in understanding how Sigmabond can repair, replace or improve their current process. Since Texas is usually on the leading edge of pavement innovation, balanced mix design and how that fits into performance specifications was a hot topic among this group.
In October, I attended the TML conference in Houston. The vendors varied from Christmas decorations for Main Street and street lighting to industrial playgrounds and garbage trucks — anything you could imagine cities, counties and municipalities needing to procure. While this was not a traditional asphalt convening, the experience allowed Polyco to get in front of decision-makers across the state. We met government officials from communities big and small — folks who are not familiar with the paving process but are invested in the benefits. It was a great learning experience as we had to pivot our elevator pitch to explain Sigmabond in layman’s terms.
In November, I took a break from Texas and attended the SEAUPG Annual Meeting in Knoxville, Tennessee. The event featured presentations such as “Balanced Mix Design for High RAP Mixture with Rejuvenator” and “Examples of Successful Practices with State Implementation of Balanced Design of Asphalt Mix”, which provided great insight into growth opportunities and updates to DOT specifications in the region. Additionally, we were able to position Sigmabond in a way that aligns with specs and responds to needs and trends at the local level.
Just this week, I had the opportunity to visit with colleagues from the Asphalt Institute in Tucson, Arizona. Sustainability and life cycle assessment of asphalt and asphalt pavements were big topics of conversation at this year’s annual meeting. In addition to standard committee meetings — such as technical asphalt, finance and marketing — the Asphalt Institute Foundation approved nominations for its 2022 committee and board members. I’m honored to have been selected as the Vice Chair of the Asphalt Institute Foundation and the Asphalt Institute’s representative for the Asphalt Paving Alliance. Even though much was accomplished, I was still able to squeeze in a round of golf and soak up some desert sun.
As the year winds down and industry events are put on pause until the new year, I’m proud of the presence we’ve built and thankful for everything we’ve learned along the way. It’s been a great experience and I’m looking forward to reconnecting with folks and continuing to introduce Sigmabond to new audiences. See you in 2022!
A few years ago, a city in the Dallas, Texas area had some concrete pavements that were in rough shape. The city was looking for an interim paving solution for these pavements and turned to one of Polyco’s customers, which was using an asphalt binder in their hot mix powered by our Sigmabond concentrate. The pavement lasted well past the city’s expected timeline, proving to be a long-lasting solution to a short-term fix.
Since the performance of this pavement surpassed expectations, the city’s engineering department wanted to see if it could be repeated on additional roads. In June of 2021, that opportunity presented itself in the form of another four lane road construction project. The main travel lanes of the roadway used the same hot mix designed with the Sigmabond binder, while the turn lanes and crossovers were paved with a standard mix using common grade asphalt.
Three months later, I revisited the site of the June project and was blown away! The photos below show the apparent color difference between the different pavement sections. Each section of the road used the same hot mix design, however, the sections paved with the Sigmabond binder outperformed the others paved with the standard paving grade asphalt.
As the photos reveal, asphalt made with a Sigmabond binder stays darker, longer. The darker roads not only look better but also provide a safety enhancement due to the contrast of the striping against the black surface. This hotmix is also more stable, crack resistant and durable because of Sigmabond.
Seeing this big of a difference in three months’ time is an important reminder that our products are engineered to perform. The proof is in the pictures!
More than 25 years ago, I started Polyco with $400 and a napkin with the name inscribed on it in my pocket. I went from lab technician at a large corporation to CEO at a company of one (I was also chief janitor, R&D, customer service and sales). I’ve been very deliberate with our growth — taking it one step at a time, one person at a time, one customer at a time, one product at a time. As the company grew, it became clear to me that in order to compete in the highly commoditized asphalt industry, Polyco’s products had to perform.
But in order to create high-performance products from an extremely variable material, such as asphalt, you must get creative. There was a huge opportunity in the marriage of asphalt and tire rubber that had yet to be realized. Tire rubber and asphalt in roads is nothing new (the concept has been around since the 1950s) but creating a high-performance product from that union was never a reality. Until recently. Through deep scientific expertise, Polyco’s Rapid Digestion Process (RDP) was born.
RDP is the only process in the market that completely digests end-of-life tire rubber into a homogeneous, liquefied state. Since most tires consumed in the United States are burnt for fuel value, depleting the ozone, our process presents an opportunity to reduce our carbon footprint. RDP is unique because it extracts all of the beneficial properties out of tire waste using a clean method.
Utilizing RDP, we’ve created a truly sustainable product that performs well on roads and rooftops. Sigmabond is a revolutionary asphalt concentrate that can be used in binders, tack coats or chip seal applications. Most importantly, it’s Engineered to Perform.
By upcycling end-of-life tires into high-performing asphalt binders and coatings, we’re actually powering a circular economy. The future of our environment depends on the ability to reuse resources over and over again. And, we know that tackling tire waste is just the beginning.
At Polyco, we are committed to ending global waste. We are focused on advancing our process, product mix and geographic presence. With operational capacity growing each year, we are looking at emerging markets in Europe and focused on how we can eliminate tire waste overseas while creating longer-lasting roads and more durable rooftops. With the circular economy as our moral compass and the best team in the industry leading the charge, I am confident that Polyco will continue to evolve to meet the world’s demand for sustainable, high-performance products.