2019 Inductees to Pavement Magazines Hall of Fame
John Hood, co-owner of MultiFit LLC is one of three 2019 inductees to Pavement's Hall of Fame.
“My wheelhouse is commercial class pavers, it always has been,” says John Hood, owner of Hood Capital. “I’ve always tried to help commercial contractors pave with automation in a very precise but very simple way.”
Which, in a nutshell, is why John Hood is one of the 2019 inductees into the Pavement Hall of Fame. A lifelong supporter of paving contractors, Hood has worked in the industry from crew laborer to director of North American sales for Bomag, he was instrumental in developing and marketing the cutting-edge Gilcrest ProPaver in the 1990s, he was a regular presenter at National Pavement Expo – and today he’s running three businesses that provide automated support for pavers and warranty support for all equipment owners.
“I’m a driven individual,” Hood says. “I’m not driven by money but I’m driven by the hunt. I’m always looking for the next deal and I love success. I love the feeling of success.”
Born and raised in rural Missouri, Hood had two choices for work as a teenager: farming or paving. Lucky for the industry that he selected paving, starting as a laborer for American Asphalt in south-central Missouri.
“Little did I know that would start me on a path that would continue for the rest of my life,” he says.
Following high school Hood passed on college and took a job at Gilcrest Equipment, Holden, MO, which at the time manufactured harvesting equipment. His job was to install four-wheel-drive systems for dealers and for farmers in the field. In 1985 he moved to inside sales and in 1987 he became sales manager.
Developing the ProPaver
“I took a look at the company and told the owners we really needed to diversify, that we needed to add something to the business because farming was a very narrow and seasonal niche,” he says.
As it happened, another Missouri company, Stewart Equipment, was trying to design a self-propelled commercial asphalt paver to compete with Mauldin and LeeBoy. Tim Hoover, Jim Gilcrest and Hood took a look at the paver and thought it had potential, so Gilcrest acquired Stewart and began working on the paver.
“We spent the next year redesigning that paver. They had a good concept, but it really couldn’t be manufactured the way it was designed so we spent a year redesigning it,” Hood says.
During that year Hood visited and talked with contractors, learning what they needed in a commercial paver. “We asked them what they liked in the pavers they had, what they didn’t like, what didn’t work the way it should or could, and what they needed that no paver had. Then we took everything we learned and designed it into the Gilcrest ProPaver.”
So what made the ProPaver different?
“We brought current technology to the field, that was the bottom line,” Hood says. “It was a quick jump to state of the art and it set that paver apart.”
Hood says the platform was entirely different from other pavers in the market, and because the paver was only 12 feet long, it fit easily on a truck and was easy to transport. It utilized rubber track pads, new at the time, relied on heavy electronics switching and it featured the paving industry’s first load-sensing hydraulics system that shifted hydraulic power to where it was needed. “That machine wasted no hydraulic power,” Hood says.
“It was faster, highly productive, sleek and compact -- something other pavers weren’t,” he says. “And we painted it a urethane orange and gave it a lot of flash. But most important, the damn thing worked. The operators loved them and their production was unmatched.”
As was their customer service.
“We had a huge desire to succeed and that was reflected in our customer service, which no one could match. If a contractor called with a problem one of us answered the phone and if we couldn’t solve the problem on the phone one of us would be on a plane.”
Gilcrest introduced the ProPaver to the market and sold 12 units in 1991. In 1992 they sold 20 pavers, 40 in 1993 and in 1999 they sold 156 ProPavers. “It was a very rapid ascent,” Hood says. “Tim ran the manufacturing and I handled the day-to-day operations and sales,” he says. “I can’t tell you how much fun that all was,” he says.
Bomag Buys Gilcrest
Partly because the ProPaver was so successful, Bomag acquired it and Gilcrest in 2003. Hood left and took a job selling milling machines for Marini America, part of the Fayat Group. The Fayat Group soon bought BOMAG and Hood found himself in 2004 working for BOMAG, where though he worked in a number of positions, he was basically responsible for selling pavers and milling machines.
In 2011 Hood became involved in Bomag’s acquisition of Cederapids, evaluating the product line and distribution network. He was then tapped as director of sales for North America, a position he held until 2016 when he left Bomag to start his own company.
“BOMAG was a great experience,” Hood says. “I learned a lot there but it was a stretch for me to work in the corporate world. I’m more a guy who wants to do things. I like to look at situation, make a decision and go do it. If I make a mistake, I make a mistake and I’ll own it and learn from it and move on from there. I was ready to work that way again.”
Out on His Own
So in 2016 he (with wife Tina), formed Hood Capital, under which are three companies:
· Epic Assurance provides extended warranty protection for a broad range of equipment. His sons James and Jason work part-time for the company. “It’s going well and I hope Epic continues to grow and becomes the cornerstone that can carry us into the future,” Hood says.
· Multifit LLC provides paving and compaction automation for the site prep and road building industries. “I saw a need for a simple solution to a complex issue and that’s what Multifit provides,” Hood says. “I felt this was going to just be a little company to keep me in touch with the paving industry, but we’ve just expanded our facility to accommodate our growth.” The company offers the Compaction Optimizer, which retrofits on any roller and provides real-time compaction information for the operator; the Mini-Line Paving Automation System, an automatic grade control system; and recently entered into an agreement with Tf Technologies out of Denmark to become the exclusive U.S distributor of Mat Manager, a yield control system that enables a paver operator to eliminate or reduce excess material usage in real time.
· Romar Manufacturing, still in the early stage, develops and markets mobile power stations for industry and for farmers and “weekend warriors.”
“I never go into anything up to my ankles to test the water,” Hood says. “I jump in up to my neck and that’s what I’ve done here and I’m having a blast. Probably as much fun in my professional life as I’ve ever had.”
While he’s been the driving force for his own career – “You can’t outwork me” – Hood credits the people he’s worked with for much of his success.
“I’ve surrounded myself with just fantastic people,” he says. “I’ve always been lucky to be surrounded by people who aren’t afraid to roll up their sleeves and go to work. Any success I’ve enjoyed is a result of my relationships with them. I’m not done yet, still hunting every day.”
Story written by Allan Heydorn originally published on www.forconstructionpros.com
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