Mike began his career in the asphalt industry in 1975 in Terra Haute, Indiana, working for Bituminous Materials Company, Inc. In 1980, Mike became the vice-president of Southwest Emulsion, where his passion became the commercialization of what-at-the-time were innovative, polymer-modified emulsions. When the French company, Elf Aquitaine purchased Southwest Emulsions, Mike was appointed their Western Region vice-president. In that role, Mike built and expanded the company’s polymer-modified bitumen market across the western U.S. His work helped usher in a new era of polymer-modified bitumen use across North America, as did his leadership in the AASHTO-AGC-ARTBA Joint Cooperation Task Force 31, which created the first specifications for polymer-modified bitumen in 1991. This was an immediate predecessor to the SHRP program.
In 1993, Mike became Koch’s Western Region Leader, where he continued his mission to expand polymer modified bitumen usage. In 1998, Mike oversaw the construction of one of our nation’s first design, build, and 20-year warranty projects: the $420 million U.S. Highway 550 project in New Mexico. Mike was influential in building consensus in the New Mexico DOT that the “life-cycle approach,” as it was called then, to road construction was a superior alternative to “low-bid” approach.
In 2004, Mike retired from Koch Materials and was invited by MeadWestvaco (now Ingevity) to come onboard to develop a global commercialization strategy for the company’s newly-patented chemical warm mix asphalt technology. He continues today as Ingevity’s ambassador for new product and new technology commercialization programs.
Mike has contributed his unique expertise to identifying and achieving strategic goals of numerous industry association boards and committees. Mike served on the NAPA-AI Asphalt Pavement Alliance board for eight years, was the AEMA board president for two years, and served on the board of TRIP as well as many state APA’s. A few of the state associations in which Mike continues to be an engaged advisor include CAPA, NMAPA, ACNM, Colorado AGC, Texas AGC and TXAPA. The Asphalt Institute has benefited from his participation since 2007 on the Marketing, Affiliate and Public Policy/Relationships committees. For the Asphalt Institute Foundation(AIF), Mike has served on the AIF Marketing and Communications Committee, the AIF Development Committee and the AIF Board of Directors.
Throughout his career, Mike O’Leary has tirelessly dedicated his time and energy across all industry sectors (industry, academia, and government) and along every step of the asphalt supply chain to build the critical mass necessary to introduce new technological advancements, to push them through initial deployments in field trials, and to achieve their wide-spread commercial adoption.