Just this past month, White Mountain Chain moved to its new location on David Thompson Road behind Mead's.
According to Ed Leach, owner of White Mountain Chain, Inc., the new building will better serve his customers. He said there is a lot more usable space and the building is more set up to use as a shipping center. Besides the main warehouse, plans are in the works for a shipping room and show room. In the show room, Ed plans to have a variety of truck tires wrapped in the different kinds of chain so that customers can get a visual picture of how each different type of chain functions on the tires.
Ed has been in the chain business since 1989. He started working in the chain factory that was then located on the North Bench and was owned by the Norway-based Trygg Chain Company. His first job in the factory was untangling bundles of chain as they came out of the tumbler. Over the next couple of years, he worked at different jobs in the factory, adding to his experience and knowledge of chains. The factory filed bankruptcy two years later and a Canadian outfit bought the company, changing the name to Chains, Inc. Four years later, Chains, Inc. also closed down.
"I realized there was an opportunity for me in keeping that relationship with the Norwegians and marketing tire chains," explained Ed. "I opened my own business in 1995. We have grown 20 percent every year since then. We are the only chain distributor that covers all the western half of the United States and Alaska. I bring the chain in from Norway and do both wholesale and retail."
White Mountain Chain does much of its business outside of Boundary County. Ed said that he sells chain to many other industries such as the oil industry in Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico and Alaska. He also sells a great deal of chain to the trucking industry. With 33 million trucks on the road, Ed said that there is an incredible potential to work with that market.
"I'm trying to educate people on the differences in chain," he said. "The difference is in the combination of steel that is used to fabricate the chain. Trygg is an expensive chain, but because of the mix of the steel, it is well worth the price. When you go to use it, you know it's going to work. There are also different types of chain for different applications. I recommend what I think will work the best for the application."
Ed explained that his business philosophy is simple. It takes a lot of hard work and that he likes to treat people the way he would want to be treated. If something goes wrong with the chain, which it hardly ever does, he will rectify the situation.
"I know what the chain will do," emphasized Ed. "It makes good business sense to take care of any problems the customer has. If there is something wrong with the chain, I'll make it right."
White Mountain Chain is busy all year long. Ed said that they ship to pre-season customers from August to March. If there is a real muddy spring, they'll have a little spurt of business to get trucks through the mud. In the off-season, Ed visits his customers to add the personal touch and see if there have been any problems with the chain.
"I've been very fortunate here in Boundary County," he said. "The people here are good. If there's something I don't know, I can find someone who does know and I'm not afraid to ask. That's what it's all about: helping people out. Fortunately for me, I was in the right place at the right time. I believe that you learn from failure. If you didn't fail, you'd never learn and expand. That's the way I've always been. I like what I do and I try to have fun with it. "