History the road to success


Road construction was far from Samuel E. Barrett’s mind when he began a small roofing business in Chicago, Illinois, in 1854. As his operation expanded, Barrett realized that America’s growing cities were literally stuck in the mud, and he saw the need for innovative solutions for the country’s burgeoning road system.

The demand for paved streets and sidewalks led Barrett to experiment with roofing tar as a treatment for brick, stone and wooden block pavements. The concept was a success – and Barrett Paving Materials was born.

‘Good roads at low cost’

In 1903, the Barrett Manufacturing Company initiated experiments in Jackson, Tennessee, which eventually led to the development of Tarvia™. Tarviated roads were a cost-effective solution for creating and repairing the roads that Americans and their Model Ts so desperately needed. Barrett’s advertising campaign – “good roads at low cost” – targeted American consumers and told them how Tarvia™ could improve not only their roads but their lives, too. Improvements to the nation’s rural highways contributed to the success of the automobile, and generated unprecedented commerce between rural communities and distant cities.

During World War I, Germany controlled much of the world’s chemical industry, causing a worldwide shortage of such commodities as dyes and drugs. To combat this problem, Barrett and four other American chemical companies merged to form the Allied Chemical & Dye Corporation in 1920. Allied instantly became one of the largest companies in the world and was poised to lend its industrial might to America’s national defense, if necessary. Paving materials were handled by the Barrett Division of Allied Chemical & Dye Corp.

Paving and road construction

In 1927, Barrett constructed a stationary mix plant in Jamesville, New York, marking the beginning of the company’s evolution into the modern asphalt paving and road construction business. Over the next 50 years, the Barrett paving organization built a network of manufacturing plants throughout New York, New Jersey, Ohio and Illinois.

Rapid expansion

In 1979, Barrett joined Colas, Inc., ushering in a new era of productivity. With the backing of the largest road building company in the world, Barrett began a series of major acquisitions, including:

  • The Brewer Company (1987)
  • Midland Asphalt Materials (2000)
  • Spring Creek Corporation (2000)
  • Penn Can Asphalt Materials (2002)
  • IA Construction Corporation (2003)
  • Southern Ohio Paving (2004)
  • Oswego Asphalt (2005)
  • Adirondack Asphalt (2005)
  • Terry Asphalt Materials (2006)
  • Strawser Construction Inc. (2008)
  • Base Construction Technologies Inc. (2008)

The addition of these valuable assets, along with several smaller acquisitions, transformed Barrett Paving Materials Inc. into the company it is today.