The GuardTop Story

In 1983 GuardTop was founded by Industrial Asphalt which was owned by the Hunt family. They were the premier supplier of asphalt hot mix in all of Southern California. In 1986 Calmat acquired Industrial Asphalt and in 1999, Vulcan Materials Company, who eventually sold GuardTop to Western Emulsions, acquired Calmat.

The Koleas family has a long-standing history in the asphalt industry. Richard and Ramah Koleas began the Koleas asphalt legacy by establishing Western Emulsions in 1977 in Tucson, Arizona. The company started as a small player in the industry, competing against large corporations, but Western Emulsions found its niche with an emphasis on branded, specialty products and superior customer service.

In 1982, Western Emulsions expanded into the San Diego market and supplied GuardTop® with asphalt emulsions from the Escondido, Calif. plant. In California, Western Emulsions’ largest customer was GuardTop, while the Arizona market of Western Emulsions focused on specialty work. In fact, the Koleas’ built Western Emulsions Irwindale with GuardTop in mind. Richard Koleas worked on the original formulation for GuardTop sealcoat by incorporating Western Emulsion asphalt emulsion.

Robert Koleas, current CEO of GuardTop, grew up in the industry. After graduating from the University of Arizona in 1987, he began in the industry by mixing and applying sealcoat. At a young age, Robert was Vice President of California and the west coast operations and then named President and CEO in the early 2000’s. Robert exponentially expanded Western Emulsions, while still continuing to provide the best quality asphalt products, services and superior customer service. This is the same philosophy that GuardTop prides itself on today.

In 2008 Koleas was approached by Vulcan Materials Company to purchase the GuardTop division. Vulcan chose to only approach Robert and Western Emulsions. Due to Vulcan’s long-term working relationship with the Koleas Family, the company knew Robert’s team would take care of the existing GuardTop and Vulcan materials customers. Koleas recognized that GuardTop was still the best product in the industry and was thrilled at the opportunity. After assuring the board of the company’s incredible potential, Western Emulsions partnered with Advantage and acquired GuardTop in 2009. Western Emulsions was able to transform GuardTop through continual product improvement, brand protection and exceptional customer service.

Robert and his private equity partners eventually sold Western Emulsions and he briefly retired from industry. However, he came out of retirement to acquire GuardTop due to his passion for the product and his family legacy in the industry. “I love that through GuardTop we are able to become a part of the community and help individuals preserve and protect their asphalt in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way. We love the relationships that we are able to build with cities, contractors, property managers and business owners,” said Robert.

Through the private sector, GuardTop is able to continue innovations to not only help improve products, but the environment as well. This innovation helped to drive the creation of CoolSeal by GuardTop®, a high-performance cool pavement, designed to cool surfaces temperatures while extending the life of the underlying asphalt twice as long as conventional sealcoat products. In continuing with Guard Top’s sustainability efforts, the company’s newest venture is Tire Rubber Modified Surface Seal which contains recycled tire rubber for superior U.V. protection, color, durability and adhesion.

In the future, GuardTop aims to expand to a national presence so that customers can experience the same high quality of products and service from anywhere in the country. “I’m excited to continue to improve and revolutionize our products so that we continue to be the premier, best quality product in the industry,” said Robert.