Rockin' A Hardscape
Author: Michael Paskevich | Photographer: Mark Staff Photography
American Paving Design owner Tim Niemiec remains cool about being called “your paver guy,” a nickname reflecting the power of a savvy media marketing campaign that’s made his moniker familiar to countless readers, radio listeners and TV watchers throughout the Lowcountry. But the public voice and visage of the Bluffton-based company believes it’s time to share increased credit with his select squad of artful associates who do the real heavy lifting, often in the steamy days of summer.
“They’re the guys who really make it happen, and they’ve been doing such great work,” said Niemiec, citing the tireless labor of established project managers Marcello Locatelli, Mark Skonieczny and Raimundo Aguilar, who work directly with company project superintendent Adam Durrell. “People are amazed at the amount of physical labor involved,” Niemiec continued, “and it’s now even harder, because we’ve cut out the use of heavy machines in backyards that can create so much damage. Each of our project managers is a specialist in different areas, so we can customize the crews that go out and do the actual hard work on paving a driveway or creating a new outdoor living space… I know I’m the ‘paver guy’ but that’s not what I really do.”
Gas-fueled fire pits and complete outdoor kitchens, often installed in stepped and tiered surroundings to enhance depth and dimension, are among today’s hottest trends geared toward increasing the joys of relaxing al fresco with friends in the backyard—a far cry from the days when a barren concrete slab and collection of lawn chairs scattered around the grill passed for patio luxury. Durable cool-touch travertine imported from Turkey and other natural stone elements, including handmade clay brick, have moved to the design forefront for revamped pool decks and new patio extensions. Likewise, more enduring and attractive materials are now available to replace cracked and weathered concrete or asphalt driveways that provide visitors with crucial first impressions.
The personal process begins with a free consultation, arranged by company communications manager Nicolle Burnett, which always includes face time with Niemiec, who founded the firm in 2001 and has completed thousands of so-called hardscape projects from Savannah to Beaufort. “The meetings give us some ideas about what they want to achieve in an outdoor living space,” he said. “Then we’ll discuss options for design and materials, take measurements and photos and put it through a computer that processes a 3-D rendering that gives them all aspects of how it’s going to look.”
Projects that move ahead are overseen by project superintendent Durrell, who continues direct consultations with clients while coordinating specialized crews headed by American Paving’s trio of project managers, who do the on-site construction with support labor. And customers who’ve had projects completed recently offer plenty of high praise for the quality of their craftsmanship and the easy working relationships that provided an added bonus.
“They were very cooperative and pleasant to work, and they were always so well coordinated and knew exactly what their co-workers were doing,” said Marleen Peritz, “in love” with a new driveway at her Palmetto Dunes home that became the envy of her neighborhood. “Now other people are going ahead with new driveways because of what we did.”
American Paving Design owner Tim Niemiec
Richard Barrett of Moss Creek watched construction begin on a new circular driveway and outdoor kitchen addition, then felt comfortable enough to take a European vacation and let the crew just do its thing. He came home eight days later to be “delighted” with an already finished product from craftsmen he called “dedicated and hard-working.”
Then there’s Bobby Pope who says his only regret about having American Paving build him a patio extension with complete outdoor kitchen behind his Indigo Run home is that he didn’t do it sooner. “Tim is such a great guy, and we didn’t think of the crew as workmen but as real artisans who were creating something unique just for us,” Pope said. The interactive process incorporated design elements suggested by his spouse and left the couple with a wonderful new outdoor living and entertaining space that only seems to be changing their lives. “We’re now thinking that this is going to be our last home… that’s how much difference it’s made.”
Indeed, enjoying the area’s mostly accommodating weather is a major reason why many folks moved to the Lowcountry to begin with, so the prospect of doing so with added enjoyment space and full outdoor amenities combine to create a strong lure. “We’re always working with Northerners who moved here for the great weather and lifestyle, said Niemiec, himself a Michigan native who helped put American Paving on the commercial map with his ongoing advertising campaigns and ensuing dual identity as the “paver guy.”
“We really enjoy the whole process, from developing the initial plans to seeing the project taking shape and then completed, and a lot of our business comes from referrals from customers who’ve had work done by us,” Niemiec said. That’s further testament to the on-site skills of his project managers along with the coordination abilities of the co-workers who don’t work out of a quartet of black-and-yellow company trucks that bear logos reading: “Concrete cracks, pavers don’t.”
Coming off a winter in which everyone learned the term “polar vortex,” Niemiec and company are currently gearing up for another busy season ahead as more homeowners start thinking about enhancing the quality of the outdoor lifestyle that probably helped lure them here in the first place. “Winter is when we do most of our maintenance and get ready for the season ahead,” Niemiec noted, “and it always starts the day after we have our first 70-degree day at the end of February.”
For more information, call (843) 706-PAVE (7293) or visit online at americanpavingdesign.com.