Customers in Action

Lawton Adams Materials, Supplies & Recycling

THIS WESTCHESTER COUNTY FIRM EMPHASIZES RECYCLING, DIVERSIFICATION AND CUSTOMER SERVICE

December 12, 2014

“They’re productive, reliable and last a long time... That’s why we want to stick with Komatsu.”

Lawton Adams Materials, Supplies & Recycling

You have to be willing to change with the times if you’re going to stay in business for 75 years. In 1939, just as the country was beginning to come out of the Great Depression, and two years before the United States entered into WWII, Lawton Adams Sr. started a business in northern Westchester County, selling firewood and coal to residents in and around Somers, N.Y. He then expanded into sand and gravel and later into site work. Eventually, the material-supply end of the business was able to sustain itself.

“My dad was never afraid to try something new and go in different directions in order to keep the business going,” recalled Lawton Adams Jr., who today serves as President of Lawton Adams Materials, Supplies & Recycling. “I’ve tried to keep that same attitude – diversify and be willing to adapt to changing times.”

Diversification has led the company to become a leader in recycling in Westchester County.

“For about 20 years, we’ve focused on recycling because we could see it was going to be important in the future – for conservation, for the environment and for the economy,” said Adams. “We started crushing blacktop, concrete and block to turn it into aggregate. During the past five years or so, we’ve ramped up recycling, which is now probably 50 to 60 percent of our volume. Today, we also recycle wood into mulch; take in rock and crush it to produce a natural aggregate; and separate natural fill, turning it into different products. That’s basically what recycling is – taking waste products, and rather than sending them to a landfill, turning them into useful products.”

Beyond the waste-prevention benefit of recycling is the fact that it also reduces the need to mine so many natural resources.

“There are few, if any, new quarries opening, so virgin aggregate has become hard to get, and it’s pricey,” he noted. “There used to be a stigma attached to recycled material. Some people thought it wasn’t as good as natural stone. I think that attitude is largely gone now. The vast majority of people involved in construction recognize that the recycling industry has come a long way in terms of quality. Recycling is now the quality equal of natural-rock products, and I believe most professionals recognize that.”

Supplies, site work and equestrian facilities

Lawton Adams Materials, Supplies & Recycling

Lawton Adams Materials, Supplies & Recycling makes a one-inch, New York State DOT-approved recycled product for highway work, but Adams says most of the company’s recycled products are used in the private sector – for driveways, drainage, backfill, athletic facilities and landscaping.

The company, in conjunction with another Adams business called Footing First, also makes a specialty mix for horse-riding surfaces. It designs and installs riding rings, paddocks and equestrian courses and tracks. “While that’s a separate business, the riding-surface mix is made by Lawton Adams Materials, Supplies & Recycling, so it’s all part of our diversification strategy,” said Adams.

In addition to recycling and recycled products, Lawton Adams Materials, Supplies & Recycling also sells construction-industry supplies and still does a small amount of site work. “We used to do a lot of site work, but we’ve cut back, in part because of the economy, but mostly because I don’t want to bid against and compete with my customers,” said Adams.

Family business

Lawton Adams Materials, Supplies & Recycling remains very much the family business it was when Lawton Sr. started it. Lawton Jr.’s brother Kenny, now deceased, worked there, as did his sister Lee, who recently retired.

Today, the company has about two dozen employees, including many who’ve been with Adams for a long time. Key personnel include Mechanic James Gonzales, Bookkeeper Trish Price, Recycling Manager Steve Salatino, Yard Manager Elmer Aakjar, Loader Operator Greg Caruso and Equipment Mover Robert DeLeon.

“We don’t have a lot of turnover in our work force,” said Adams. “People come and tend to stay, which we appreciate. Having a stable group of employees means we have people who understand our operation and share our work ethic. The longer they’re here, the more they learn about our customers and how to better help them. Exemplary customer service is one way we try to differentiate ourselves from competitors.”

The Lawton Adams facility in Somers, about 50 miles from Manhattan, is open year-round. The company also does snow removal in the winter.

Productive, reliable Komatsu wheel loaders

Lawton Adams Materials, Supplies & Recycling

To do its recycling, mixing and yard work, Lawton Adams Materials, Supplies & Recycling has numerous Komatsu machines, including six Komatsu wheel loaders (a WA430, two WA380s and three WA200s), Komatsu PC200 and PC78 excavators, a D32 dozer and a Komatsu CD110R compact track truck. The company also has a Rogers 3500 lowbed trailer and a LaBounty concrete processor from Edward Ehrbar, Inc. and Sales Rep Bill Tucker.

“The WA430 and WA380s are strictly for loading,” said Adams. “The WA200s are tool-carriers, so we have forks for them to carry palletized material and pipe, as well as do other jobs. Of course, all the wheel loaders also get used for snow removal.

“We’ve been very happy with our Komatsu machines,” he added. “They’re productive, reliable and last a long time. I used to buy what I’ll call ‘off brands.’ They were cheap, but they didn’t last very long. Since then, we’ve changed our philosophy. We want to buy something good that will last longer and hold its value. That’s why we want to stick with Komatsu.”

Lawton Adams Materials, Supplies & Recycling employees also prefer the Komatsu units.

Recycling Manager Steve Salatino commented on the WA430: “It’s a comfortable ride. It has good visibility and good fuel economy. The ride control is fantastic compared to other wheel loaders.” Yard Manager Elmer Aakjar added: “Our Komatsu wheel loaders are very reliable and user-friendly. They have plenty of power, so they are great for digging. They are all-around good loaders.” Operator Greg Caruso noted: “The comfort factor is big for me, but I also appreciate the visibility. We have a lot of retail customers who come into the yard, and they may not always be where we expect them to be, so we need to be able to see them. Our Komatsus allow us to see what’s going on around us.”

From a maintenance and repair standpoint, Mechanic James Gonzales said, “We’ve had good luck with all of our Komatsu machines. They don’t break down very often. When I do have to work on them, they’re fairly easy to work on, and Ehrbar is good about providing us with service and parts.”

“Dealer support is crucial as far as I’m concerned,” said Adams. “We want parts and service available when we need them, and just overall, we want to know that our dealer will stand behind us and help us. Ehrbar and Bill meet these needs, and that’s as big of a reason as any as to why we like working with them.”

Recycling continues to grow

Looking to the future, Adams says he sees recycling continuing to be a growth industry.

“We think recycled products will continue to grow in importance, and at Lawton Adams Materials, Supplies & Recycling, we’ll continue to emphasize that aspect of our business. For example, we do a little bit of composting now, and we want to get more into that. We’re already developing a niche market of taking in invasive species and destroying them with a ‘complete kill’ so they don’t harm the environment. We essentially turn it into compost to make sure it’s not going to revegetate.

“We also want to do everything possible to operate efficiently. One area of emphasis for us is trucking. We offer trucking to be able to deliver the materials we make. Now we’re also focusing on the backhaul. We want to get double duty out of our trucks – deliver a product, then load up on another product that the customer needs to get rid of, bring it back here and turn it back into a new, marketable product. The recycle beat goes on.”