Case Studies

Doug Dolinar – Guidemark & LimnTech Scientific

Paving a new road to safety with technology

A bright orange traffic cone measures a measly 28 inches tall and weighs just pounds. Yet, a row of these can be all that stands between workers and large 18-wheelers and other vehicles barreling down highways at speeds often exceeding 80 miles per hour.

“Sometimes trucks are going so fast that they can actually blow the helmets right off workers’ heads,” Doug Dolinar says. “It’s been this way in the industry for so long that people have sort of become complacent, but I always thought it was stupid to just hope we don’t die out on the roads.”

Doug Dolinar | President | Guidemark & LimnTech Scientific

Doug Dolinar | President | Guidemark & LimnTech Scientific

So, ever since he and his wife opened Guidemark in June 1980, he sought to protect workers as they lay traffic lines on new pavement, the company’s specialty.

In the old system, workers would stretch long strings to layout dots on the pavement, which painting trucks would use to paint lines back on road. By 2012, after years of trial and error, however, Dolinar discovered a safer way to perform the work. Instead of having workers manually plot the lines, he mounted cameras to a pickup truck and recorded the location of the old lines using GPS. In theory, workers could lay the new lines using these coordinates.

“We were still testing it out in the field at that point, but it held a lot of promise—and we were certainly excited about the possibilities,” Dolinar says.

Drawing the digital line

Dolinar wasn’t the only one who saw the potential of this new system. Guidemark’s accountants and attorney told him that this wasn’t really a construction invention but a technological one. So, in 2012, he created a new company, LimnTech Scientific.

Now, before a road is paved anywhere in Pennsylvania, a truck geared with Dolinar’s equipment goes out and drives at the speed limit down the highway, street or even side roads to record the position of the old lines. After paving is done, that data is transferred into a system on a paint truck that adds back the lines.

Most recently, Dolinar says his company was contracted to perform this process for the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Not only did the equipment literally keep boots off the ground, but it reduced the time needed to paint lines on the new road by 75 percent, an additional bonus, Dolinar says.

Doug Dolinar | President | Guidemark & LimnTech Scientific

His main focus, however, has always been protecting workers rather than saving time. According to him, while the industry is doing a great job of alerting drivers with flashing signs and other forms of advance warning, it doesn’t do enough to protect workers from drunk or distracted drivers.

“A lot of time, motorists are on their phones or otherwise distracted and accidentally enter into construction zones,” he says. “I can’t do much to stop that, but I can do everything possible to protect my workers, and what better way than to get them off the road and out of such a vulnerable position?”

Six years after he opened LimnTech, he sold his first system to a company other than Guidemark. Currently, LimnTech sells its systems across the U.S., Canada and, most recently, Europe. “It’s been a long effort, decades in the making, but it’s more than worth it because it saves time—and, more importantly, lives,” Dolinar says.

A smooth landing

Guidemark and LimnTech Scientific have been a major part of Dolinar’s life, but the original company, Guidemark, started as a hobby. After graduation from the University of Detroit with a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering, Dolinar spent several years working in aerospace, designing bearings for jet engines and helicopter transmissions.

On a whim, he and his wife decided they could use some extra money and started a striping business on the side. At first, they employed the neighborhood teenagers and worked on parking lots. Soon enough that side business became Guidemark.

Doug Dolinar | President | Guidemark & LimnTech Scientific

“I’m proud not just of how far Guidemark and LimnTech Scientific have come, but also that many of those neighborhood kids are still with us today,” Dolinar says.

One of the ways that Guidemark and LimnTech help employees is through the employee mentor program, the brainchild of the general manager who is a coach, teacher and parent. According to Dolinar, this program ensures that when new people come in, they’re comfortable and can learn the equipment from veterans on the job. It’s also beneficial as it helps retain employees, who Dolinar says are difficult to come by and train in this field.

“We’ve changed the industry, setting the bar very high, so competitors have a difficult time matching us in the market,” Dolinar says. “In the end though, it comes down to introducing safer ways to do traditional things like line striping, so motorists and workers all get home safely.”

View this feature in the Blueprint Vol. II 2023 Edition here.

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