Like many successful contractors over the past 20 years, Ian White started off as a one-man band offering drainage and earthworks services using a wheeled backhoe loader. Today, he runs a multi-coloured fleet of different machines and employs seven staff engaged on a variety of landscaping and sportsground contracts. AME caught up with Ian on site near Dudley in the West Midlands.
Ask Ian White where he acquired his interest in landscaping and the machines that are needed to create and maintain green spaces and he’ll point back to his childhood growing up on the family farm near Rugby.
Although the farm was sold when Ian was 13, his love of the land remained strong, despite the fact that the family had moved from the countryside into the nearby town of Nuneaton where Ian joined a carpentry firm when he left school.
“The company’s owner soon discovered that 1 was more adept at moving soil than making door frames and he found plenty of work for me to do in his garden at home,” recalled Ian. “Although I worked for the carpentry business for more than 10 years, I spent far more time reconstructing, shaping and landscaping that garden than working on wood. Looking back, the experience I gained during that period was invaluable.”
With the business established on sound footings on a farm near Nuneaton, Ian continued building his contracts using word of mouth and customer references as his principal salesmen.
“Our workload is now spread fairly evenly between local authorities and private companies,” he explained.
“I have managed to secure regular contracts with around 10 councils to carry out verge and barrier mowing, hedge trimming, end-of-season pitch renovation and recycling of green waste using mobile composting and screening machines.
“As the business has grown, so has the need for more staff and I now have seven men working for me, four of them being qualified greenkeepers or groundsman enabling a wide range of seasonal turf maintenance services to be offered,” he added.
Not to be outdone by his staff, Ian regularly attends specialist courses in grounds and turf management and is a qualified sprayer operator.
The abilities of Ian and his team have stood the business in good stead over the past two years as it has expanded and grasped new opportunities in the private sector, gaining regular landscaping and construction work for national companies such as the Blakedown Group and Camps Limited.
Other contracts include looking after sports fields at three colleges and watering summer bedding and trees on behalf of Coventry City Council.
To maintain growth, Ian has invested not only in experienced people but in the specialist machines designed to make the job easier, quicker and more cost-effective.
His fleet currently includes five tractors from 46hp to l3Ohp, self-propelled and trailed five-gang mowers, ride-on triple mowers, over-seeders, stone buriers and cultivations equipment plus a host of turf maintenance equipment ranging from shallow and deep tine aerators, rotary decompactors and scarifiers to top dressers, laser graders, trenchers and a variety of trailers from low loaders to roll-on, roll-off skip trailers. And, of course, a backhoe-loader for those all-important ground works.
Ian recalls giving one of his brochures recently to an existing client who, having looked at the contents for a minute or two, said: “I had no idea you offered so many different services. How do you manage such a diverse operation?”
The answer to that question is that Ian loves the job and thrives on delivering a first-class service to his customers and clients. Although most contracts are located within 50 miles of base, he is more than happy to work further afield if need be.
As to the future, Ian is delighted that his 13-year-old son Joshua is showing a similar interest in matter mechanical as he did when he was growing up on the farm. The continuing growth and success of Whitehall Landscapes and Groundcare Contractors looks to be assured.
Ian White can be contacted by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org
‘The work was completed to the timescale agreed and was delivered on budget.’
– Coventry City Council
‘Whitehall Landscapes delivered excellent quality work within time scales. The price, workmanship and health and safety was all outstanding. We would have no problem with recommending them to anyone.’
– Priory Tennis Centre
‘Whitehall Landscapes renovated eight of our flats bringing them back to a quality condition. The workmanship was excellent, timescales were good and they were clean, tidy and reliable.’
– Radnor Court Property Services