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Man promotes sealcoating work with beer-bottle lot

WEST FARGO — A North Dakota man who is trying to get his eco-friendly sealcoating business off the ground recently gave customers of a West Fargo bar a two-for-one deal.

Every bottle of beer they drank went toward a new parking lot.

Ron LaCoe is the owner of A1 Sealcoating and Asphalt Maintenance Inc., a West Fargo company that has begun using a mixture that includes recycled glass to refurbish parking lots and other paved surfaces. He has been sealcoating lots for many years but only recently decided to go green by using crushed glass instead of silica sand, which can be harmful to workers’ health. The glass and silica cost about the same.

He gives new life to beer bottles, liquor bottles, wine bottles, milk bottles ... you name it, he said.

“I don’t consider myself an environmentalist,” LaCoe said. “I just don’t like waste. If I can find a way to use something, I’m going to use it.”

LaCoe does not drink alcohol but is a regular performer on the karaoke stage at Bordertown Bar and Grill, aptly named because it sits on the border between Fargo and West Fargo. One night he came up with the parking lot sealcoating idea while watching beer bottles being hauled out to the trash on a parking lot in dire need of repair.

“I do marketing a lot different than most people,” LaCoe said, smiling. “I told the owner of the bar one night that I had a deal for him.”

LaCoe said the parking lot turned out well, but he isn’t in a hurry to do it again. He said hauling the used beer bottles from the bar to a glass-crushing facility nearly made him pass out.

“It was really rancid. Holy cow,” LaCoe said. “A pickup load of stale month-old beer bottles? That was horrible.”

And he jokes, “I was hoping I wouldn’t get pulled over for open container.”

LaCoe is hoping his “drive on what you drink” promotion will get more people interested in his business. He currently has a patent pending on the formula, which he says dries faster than the silica sand mixture, so parking lots don’t have to be shut down for a day or two. The glass also glistens at night.

LaCoe buys his product from a West Fargo company that crushes glass to use in pool and industrial filters, landscaping, flooring and countertops and sandblasting, among other things. Duane Kramlich, owner of glassAdvantage, said he and LaCoe experimented to find the right texture for a nonstick surface.

“Some of the other things were just benefits we didn’t know about. Neither one of us knew it was going to dry faster,” Kramlich said. “Next thing you know, he’s running with this thing. We want to see it work.”

Gary Johnson, a certified public accountant and one of LaCoe’s partners, said the green initiative appealed to him and other investors.

“We’ll see where it goes,” Johnson said. “It might be wonderful and it might not be. Who knows? It’s like any new thing. You never know until you get it in the market and you see what there is to see.”