Meet The Farm Equipment Expert: Willard and Nettie White
“White’s was here then, We’re here now, and We’ll be here tomorrow!”
Willard and Nettie White started White’s in 1946 as the Oneida Valley Garage. White’s has been growing strong ever since with over 65 years in business. Much of our success we owe our customers without them we would never have made White’s what it is today. Let’s take a look back at the growth, progress and accomplishments envisioned, but never really imagined, by those young newlyweds.
When Willard and Nettie returned to Central NY at the end of World War II it wasn’t long before they saw an opportunity to have the American dream! Willard was born and raised in the Verona NY area, which prompted his return to his family farm. Nettie was from Shandro, Alberta near Edmonton, a farm girl and was used to a good days work. They opened the Oneida Valley Garage at the intersections of Route 31 and 316 where they took up pumping gas and repairing automobiles and farm machinery. They were just starting their own family, with a son and a daughter, Dale and Patricia. The business grew and in 1948 they hired Roger Gerwig. Roger could fix anything. After 48 years of dedicated service, Roger retired from Whites Farm Supply, but not before experiencing the evolution of White’s Farm Supply, and the Agricultural and Lawn & Garden Industry. In 1949 International Harvester Company (Did you know they also made refrigerators, freezers and air conditioners?) gained a dealer in White’s and that relationship has endured through both Companies’ changes, as White’s continues to sell and service the Case-IH brand. With the support of our customers-the growth was quite fast and by 1951 the Quonset building was added. The White family also continued to expand, adding Arthur and Arlene to the clan. In 1952 more room was needed at the store, and an addition was made on the parts room. It was in 1956 that Douglas, the youngest, was born. Nettie was a good planner and organizer; she never did need to take much time off work as all the children were born on holidays! The grounds of the original post-war purchase were soon fully utilized, the farm behind was secured, and in 1957 the first part of the pole barn was built. In 1953 Whites became a distributor of Nicholson Hay tedders. They were imported from England and sold all over New England and required deliveries and an extensive parts supply and support. It was in 1960 that Route 31 was rebuilt, the old building could not be considered for modification, and a progressive new building was built. In the early sixties things were moving quite fast, and Gehl, a company well known for their forage equipment, contracted with White’s for warehousing of their parts distribution throughout the Northeast. In the mid sixties the new warehouse building was built to handle the growth, as it was still growing with our taking on distribution and sales of Van Dusen, Silo-matic and Brillion. The sixties also was the start of a new direction with the sales of the Cub Cadet! The original order was for ten and they wondered who would buy them!
Sales in the agricultural area were growing and in the early seventies there was an opportunity to open another store in Sangerfield, just outside of Waterville, NY. The “Waterville” store opened in 1972 with five employees, and has since tripled in size! Growth was continuous and the equipment needs of the farmer were changing. More opportunities to serve our customers came when the Sperry-New Holland brand of hay and forage equipment was taken on, and the Same tractor brand was introduced. White’s was the first dealer in New York for Martin Manufacturing – a Company that was later purchased by Gehl – that pioneered a V-style spreader. Our product line offering branched into a new area with cow stalls and gates. We carry an extensive inventory of barn and farm lot needs with strong relationships with Manufacturer’s, Paul B. Zimmerman, Inc. and J. Houle & Fils, Inc.
With the start of the 80′s, a new shop, parts department, and offices were added to the Canastota store. By the mid eighties the Waterville store was also adding on to their parts room with a 3600 sq. ft. addition. Then came the opportunity in the Lowville area to acquire a third store location on Route 26. Our Lowville store, and its dedicated staff is celebrating twenty years of serving the North Country this year, 1986-2006. Meyers Manufacturing was added to the equipment offering line up in 1986 and White’s was recently awarded their top dealer award for 2005. With the eighties the lawn mower business was growing fast and White’s became the first dealer for the Ferris mowers, a local manufacturer of innovative lawn care products for the homeowner and the commercial mower specialist. Another strong relationship with a top industry leader – Kubota – has propelled White’s through the next decade in sales of quality lawn & garden equipment, commercial mowers, and estate and farm tractors.
The 90′s were a bittersweet time; in 1993 the employees of all three White’s Farm Supply stores presented Willard and Nettie White with a special plaque and stone marker in recognition and appreciation for and to them as founders. White’s saw their retirement, Roger’s retirement, and the retirement or passing of several long-time, faithful employees. The tradition of service to the Agricultural and Lawn & Garden industries continues with Dale, Doug, & Art leading the company and responding to the needs of their customers and new demands of the market. A loss in Lowville due to an unfortunate fire was turned into a fresh start with the building of a brand new store facility with a much larger shop to accommodate the Case-IH Combines and the New Holland Forage Harvesters.
As the Company moves into the 21st century, we are in yet another growth spurt. The Waterville store has again doubled its building size with the addition of a fully modernized repair shop and expanded Lawn & Garden showroom. White’s Farm Supply today employees over 65 Central New Yorkers and has a cumulative total of well over 600 years of experience within its staff. It has awards from many of the companies that it represents for tops honors in sales, as well as the quality of the sales and service from lawn mowers to the largest of farm machinery tractors and implements.