I have been following Michael Willhite and his rapidly expanding business in California for some time on social media and I’m delighted to say he’s been in touch to tell us more about his company and the work they do.
Michael never really gave much thought about machines before high school, but he has always been mechanically minded and interested in construction in general. His father owned a roofing business and as such he spent much of his childhood on or around building sites.
Michael takes up the story, “I grew up in the right time and place, in a small town in central California. A few of the kids I grew up with had parents with grading & excavation companies. Over my years in high school I started getting into agriculture classes and shop classes. I knew college wasn’t on the cards for me. I had one friend who was especially talented in the equipment area and eventually I was taken under the wing of the father who started teaching me the trade. That was my beginning. I never really looked back after that and every job I took from that point on was always geared towards making me better at my craft”.
Michael set up his business Willhite Grading & Excavation Inc in 2011 having worked for his previous employer for 6 years. His old employer was very supportive of the move and they still talk on a regular basis and even work together on some projects.
The company take on many aspects of construction in the Santa Barbara to Santa Maria area of California covering around a 100 mile area from his central location in Carpinteria. The range of work includes regular grading & excavation projects but they also take on road encroachment work as well for companies who would like to install utilities but aren’t licensed to actually dig in the right of ways. They will also tackle drainage, storm water retention systems, demo, tree relocation, land clearing, footings and new road construction.
Talking about his involvement with machines Michael said, “I have been running equipment for 22 years on the books now and I’m 38 years old. When it comes to machines I have a philosophy of blade and bucket dynamics. If you understand how a bucket or blade moves through any type of material you can be somewhat competent on any machine within a few hrs. At this point I’ve run just about everything that moves earth. I started as a backhoe operator and will always be a backhoe operator. I run excavator, bulldozer from D4 to D10, skip & drag, wheel loader, track loader, skidsteer, compact track loader and all the compaction equipment. I have also spent seat time on a Cat 140M motor grader but have yet to completely master the machine”.
Michael has been fortunate enough to work on some very interesting jobs over the years, including one that they did for a former Vice President of the United States, with another that involved flights back and forth to Utah in a private jet!
“It really is an interesting and exciting area we are lucky enough to work in” said Michael, “Working in the hills of Montecito California you see views that are worth 10s of millions of dollars. We also get events like huge rain falls followed by large landslides and unfortunately, we also have large fires and all this contributes to a very fluid and exciting work environment”.