CLEVELAND - Repairing potholes during northeast Ohio's cold, damp winter months is tricky business. The variables alone for pothole repair success when road crews attack streets with city-purchased patching materials, shovels in hand, are sometimes insurmountable. Any water or debris left in a pothole can quickly turn a quickie repair into never-ending pothole of tire doom.
Filling deep road crevices that have been attacked by motorists' tires during months of alternating thawing and freezing weather is a fulltime job in the Cleveland area for many crews, but temporary cold patch-type fixes are often a waste of time.
That pothole-repairing-waste-of-time mentality is what drove Clevelander Tom Letizia to seek a fix that would change how the world looked at fixing potholes. Founding Unique Paving Materials in 1959, Letizia had begun experimenting with a coffee can and a welding rod in search of creating a high-performance cold mix that would be a permanent repair. The market had yet to find anyone with success when it came to calling a pothole repair permanent. It was always considered temporary.
Letizia's dream was followed by decades of chemical versus aggregate experimenting with a successful family-owned business that lives today even after his death. Unique Paving Products now boast such success that the federal government named it as an overseeing company for its control material through the Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP) during the largest study on pothole patching materials, according to Unique Paving Materials representatives.
The cold mix's success has been due to company's quality control and constant testing. Nothing goes out of the building on E. 93rd St. without final approval from the main office.
Current Unique Paving Materials president Michael Pemberton says their product's workabilty in all climates when properly applied has been an easy sell to area municipalities not wanting to repair the same pothole several times.
"Potholes are important to us. It's probably the basic core of our business is to patch potholes and patch them permanently. We've developed a product called UPM. We sell it all over the United States of America. We also sell some overseas, we do some private labels. We also have some other private paving products as well, but the UPM is our flagship product," said Pemberton.
As soon as the extreme cold temperatures break, trucks filling up with completely mixed material, or filling up with Unique's chemical mix to use with their customer's own aggregate material, line the company's parking lot on the city's east side near Harvard Ave.
Unique Paving Material Marketing Coordinator Lauren Jacenty says the UPM product is like a marketing dream. A dream that seemingly never ended from Letizia's in 1959.
"It's homegrown right here in Cleveland and luckily enough people caught on, word-of-mouth travels faster than anything else and they went right on to nationwide now," said Jacenty.
Filling potholes from Maine to Alaska to Hawaii is not something UPM is daunted by now that its formula has withstood the true test of time: Time under tires.
For information go to www.uniquepavingmaterials.com or call 1-800-441-4880