L.B. White Co. is a leading global manufacturer of branded industrial heaters and heating equipment. It offers its products around the world through its dealer network, but its headquarters in Onalaska, Wisconsin is its only manufacturing facility.
Though the proudly American manufacturer serves a variety of industries – including for the agricultural, industrial, and special event/party tent rental market – it has recently released a number of products exclusively for the construction market, with more on the way.
Over the last 70 years, L.B. White Co. has made a name for itself through its industry-leading, two-year product warranty, which it is able to offer due to its robust quality assurance program. L.B. White products are manufactured to meet or exceed international standards, and every product in the production line is rigorously tested so customers can have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that the manufacturer stands behind its commercial-grade portable heaters.
“We value our people. We value our interactions with our customers. We believe in the quality of our product. Our name is on our product, and we stand behind it,” states Kevin Gagermeier, President, CEO, and Co-owner of L.B. White Co.
“Some of our competition imports products from other countries, and they don’t even own the factories a lot of the time, whereas we are here, the factory is here, and the engineering and marketing people are here. That makes us a strong company, a company people can relate to and want to do business with,” adds Chris Smith, Vice President of Marketing.
L.B. White Co. was founded in 1948 by Lyall White. Though many of its official records date to 1952, the manufacturer actually began in the heating business four years earlier. According to Feedstuffs, in 1992, it was purchased by Tony Wilson from Warren Quinlisk. Then, Jeff Diermeier, Rick Diermeier, and Kevin Gagermeier acquired the business in December 2010. In September 2017, the ownership interests of Jeff and Rick Diermeier were acquired by Mason Wells Inc. (a Milwaukee-based, billion-dollar private equity firm), and Kevin Gagermeier remained a co-owner.
Last year, the company won the Wisconsin Business Achievement Award, and this spring it was a semifinalist for the Exporting Excellence Award and Governor’s Export Awards. In fact, L.B. White heaters were even used in the hospitality tents at the last Superbowl.
But even with its impressive history, Gagermeier emphasizes that the manufacturer’s longevity in the heating industry isn’t its most noteworthy quality. “We don’t feel that people should buy our products because we’ve been around for a long time. People should buy our products because they’re the best products.”
L.B. White Co. offers several made-in-U.S.A. products for industrial and construction sites, including handheld gas torches, convection heaters, radiant heaters, and portable heaters. These products were designed with fuel efficiency in mind and the ability to withstand harsh working conditions in the field.
Its most recent products are in the Foreman® and Tradesman® portable heater lines. The Foreman® 500 indirect-fired heater was released about two years ago. It is a 500,000 BTU/h (British Thermal Units per hour) temporary portable heater. A few months later, L.B. White Co. released the Foreman® 750, which is like a big (albeit newer) brother to the 500. It is a 750,000 BTU/h portable, indirect-fired heater. The products, which run quietly, feature a fuel-saving high efficiency heat exchanger, and are easily mobile at half the weight of the competition.
The Foreman® products can be bought to run on diesel, or if the customer prefers, a propane and natural gas dual-fuel version that switches with the push of a lever is also available.
Last year, L.B. White Co. released the Tradesman® 400 Ultra, a direct-fired, dual-fuel product that is light, easy to handle, and operates at 99.97 percent fuel efficiency. It is the smallest 400,000 BTU/h portable heater available on the market today.
This September 1st, L.B. White Co. will also release a new, direct-fired 400,000 BTU/h product with impressive ventilation capabilities at a high CFM (cubic feet per minute). The Boss 400TM will be bigger and more robust than what L.B. White has released in the past, and feature a built-in voltage meter, thermostat, diagnostic lights, wheels and handles for easy mobility, and rust resistance for indoor and outdoor use. The Boss 400TM is a dual-fuel (propane and natural gas) product.
In the future, L.B. White Co. also plans to release a 1,000,000 BTU/h product. “We’ve got many more big units lined up for the rental market. We see a need for big, robust, quality-made products, and that is what we will be targeting in the future,” Smith reveals.
L.B. White Co’s focus on quality is a part of the partnership approach it takes with its customers. Smith tells us that the L.B. White team thinks of themselves as their customers’ partners rather than one-off salespeople.
“We sell for the long-term. We’re not just trying to make a sale and move on; if someone has issues, rather than just send a new product, we work through it with them, so that they can understand the product better, and we can also find out if there is a flaw or issue,” he says.
The manufacturer also offers after-sales support through its website, on the phone, and even in person. L.B. White has many troubleshooting videos online and information about how to clean and maintain its products. A list of frequently asked questions received by the technicians is available on the website, and live technicians take calls from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central Standard Time.
“If someone has got an issue out on the field, they can call and talk to someone live. And if we don’t know the answer, we talk to someone who does know the answer and get back to them. We have also got sales personnel throughout the country, so that in extreme cases where we can’t help the dealer or customer on the phone, we have someone who could potentially visit them onsite,” says Smith.
L.B White has salespeople all over the United States and Canada. Because each region is different and the applications are different, the manufacturer feels strongly that having local representatives help local customers puts it in a better position to know what its customers need and want. “We have more feet on the ground dedicated to heat than our competition does,” says Gagermeier.
“Our engineers, technicians, and all the people in the building are the ones who make and test the product. We know heat. We know our products. The people you’ll find troubleshooting with you over the phone are the ones who actually put together the owner’s manual. We are very knowledgeable about the products that we sell,” Smith notes.
To keep up to date, L.B. White Co. actively searches for programs and seminars that employees can attend to continue to learn about the market. Every year, it also sets up some sort of internal training. For example, salespeople are given an opportunity to work on the production line so they can see how the product is made.
The growing company of 200 people is always happy to bring on new recruits who have integrity, honesty, and good work ethic. “We want to hire intelligent people who want to continue to learn and grow. They don’t necessarily have to come from the construction market, but if they are willing to learn as they grow with us and the industry, those are the types of people we are looking for,” says Smith.
Looking forward, Gagermeier and Smith envision that L.B. White Co. will continue to expand its lines with new products, with a focus on rentals but also an eye on the supply side. They are also open to new acquisitions to help strengthen the business’ place in the construction sector.
Each new product the award-winning American manufacturer releases will be tested by its expert staff to meet or exceed global standards, and will come with a two-year warranty for added security. But as Chris Smith says, those who buy from L.B. White Co. receive more than just a world-class heater. “It’s not just the great product that we have that makes us a good company; it’s the people, the support, and the partnerships we form.”
You can learn more about L.B. White’s construction products at www.lbwhite.com/products/construction-heaters.