Based in Milford, New Hampshire, Leighton A. White started as a part-time custom farming business that maintained acreages in 1978. It’s grown to a large, well-respected site-excavation contractor that provides commercial, industrial and municipal site work, and runs five gravel and sand pits.
Today, Leighton A. White has 50 employees and an expansive equipment fleet that includes 80 pieces of equipment and trucks. The company purchases four to five pieces of equipment each year as it upgrades its fleet and continues to grow.
Leighton A. White provides a full range of small to large equipment and services to contractors and customers in New Hampshire and Northern Massachusetts. They also supply a wide selection of stone, round stone, erosion stone and crushed stone base in a range of sizes. Sand, screened sand, presby sand, septic sand, stone dust, crushed aggregate, RAP and more are also offered.
Building on a reputation
This site work contractor built a loyal customer base by emphasizing quality over cost in an industry traditionally built on the lowest-cost bid.
But you cannot argue with results. Repeat customers and their acquaintances account for 80% of the company’s current business, all because of their solid reputation. The company’s philosophy is best summed up by one of President Dale White’s favorite quotes, “A competition for cheapness and a competition for excellence will always be strangers.”
In our industry, we’re known not to be the lowest price,” said White. “Competitors may be able to undercut the price, but they cannot compete against the quality. You want to set the bar high.”
This thought process carries through every aspect of the business and Leighton A. White seeks out equipment partners that adhere to the same business philosophies. This site work contractor places a high value on reputation and has turned to Chappell Tractor Sales for sales, service and support.
“Since 1978, we have bought a tremendous amount of equipment from Chappell Tractor Sales,” noted White. “They have a tremendous reputation in this industry. It’s not just the equipment, it is the service that is key. That is as important to me as the piece of equipment. I don’t think there is any other dealer in New Hampshire that has as many service vehicles on the road as Chappell Tractor Sales does.”
Due to the short construction season, uptime is a top priority for the company and it needs a dealer who can rapidly respond.
“In New Hampshire, we have eight months a year to make a living because four months is cold and snow,” White shared. “It is such a short season. That’s why it is important to buy the right piece of equipment.”
A recent partnership between Chappell Tractor Sales and Hitachi Construction Machinery Americas presented Leighton A. White the opportunity to upgrade their equipment fleet while maintaining top-quality dealer service.
“I always felt Hitachi Construction Machinery had a premium product, especially in the mining industry,” said White. “If your equipment can stand up in the mining industry, you cannot get a higher bar than that. There is nothing more abrasive than stone.”
White emphasizes that employees are the most important asset to the company. This view drives the equipment selection process with ease of use and comfort particularly important.
“If you buy good equipment, it takes care of the employees,” explained White. “Quality is going to cost more money. I am willing to pay a little more for that quality.”
The site work contractor recently purchased two Hitachi Construction Machinery Americas models — a ZW370-6 wheel loader and a ZX350LC-6 HP excavator. Both machines have impressed with the available power ratio — this includes the power to the wheels for the loader and the power to the hydraulics for the excavator.
“I just can’t find anything wrong with those two machines,” said White. “I have a wheel loader operator who runs another brand. That operator has made it very clear that the next one I own must be Hitachi Construction Machinery Americas and it has to have stick steering. That’s what the operators like.”
Even the most discerning operators find few faults in Hitachi Construction Machinery Americas equipment.
“My son Bronson is very picky with equipment. On a new piece of equipment, he picks it apart. The ZX350LC-6 was the first piece of equipment that he has ever run that checked off all the boxes the first time.”
– Dave White, Leighton A. White president
“The ZX350LC-6 was balanced right. It had tremendous hydraulic power. To us, imbalance is a huge thing, especially when you are lifting heavy loads,” added White.
Technology that makes sense
While technology is rapidly advancing in the construction equipment sector, operators at Leighton A. White prefer machines that avoid unnecessary complexity. The technology should increase machine efficiency, not make it more complicated to operate.
“Hitachi Construction Machinery Americas engineers have kept the product simple,” explained White. “Some competitors make their product so complex. Hitachi Construction Machinery Americas has found a balance between technology and the simplicity of buttons and knobs. Keep it simple for the employees. A loader is a loader and an excavator is an excavator.”
The Hitachi Construction Machinery Americas customer-first approach to design also helps drive uptime.
“Some manufacturers create so much additional cost to the end user because everything is so technical. It costs money because a sensor fails, so you have downtime,” said White.
Standing behind the product
Leighton A. White takes a very proactive approach to maintenance.
“We do all our own preventive maintenance,” White explained. “When we sell a piece of equipment, we provide the maintenance log. It helps sell the equipment because buyers see how well we maintain it.”
But this proactive maintenance does not diminish the need for dealer support.
“It’s one thing to buy a new piece of equipment, but sooner or later you need parts and service. We have three mechanics in our organization. But you need the technical backing. You need the dealer’s technical skill set that sometimes we just don’t have.”
Parts availability is also a priority for this site work contractor.
“It’s one thing to have a new product and a good product, but like everything else, it wears. There’s nothing worse than not having parts. This past year it has been very frustrating just overall finding parts. Chappell Tractor Sales does a tremendous job in stocking parts. They understand the cost of being down.”
Looking to the future
Leighton A. White looks to further expand its partnership with Hitachi Construction Machinery Americas and Chappell Tractor Sales. In addition to being a site work contractor and running five sand and gravel pits, the company is considering a return to the quarry market. This will require equipment, like the ZW370-6 wheel loader, that can endure the brutal rock conditions.
“I bought a Hitachi Construction Machinery Americas excavator and a wheel loader because they are quality pieces of equipment,” said White. “They had proven themselves in the mining industry and the aggregate industry for years. They were also priced in an area that I felt was very fair. For the longevity of owning the piece of equipment, I felt it would be a good purchase for our company and our people.”