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R.H. White Named Winner of 2023 Vision Award

Posted on March 30, 2023

R.H. White Companies of Auburn epitomizes the kind of successful family businesses that are the heart of the American economy.

It started in 1923 with “friends doing work for friends.” Auburn Fire Chief Ralph H. White found a need for a company that could install water and sewer piping. The company grew over the decades as customers asked for pumps to move water uphill, buildings to protect the infrastructure, a partner to manage municipal water systems and a contractor to support the growth of the region’s manufacturing base.

R.H. White today employs nearly 500 people providing design/build construction services, as well as repair and maintenance services for the energy, water, wastewater, industrial, corporate and institutional markets throughout the Northeast. The company has not only helped to build iconic Massachusetts structures ranging from the Sumner Tunnel in Boston to the former Digital Equipment Corporation headquarters in Maynard but has also installed a good chunk of the critical infrastructure that makes the commonwealth’s economy run – water treatment and sewer systems, natural-gas pipelines and steam energy installations.

It has done all this work with a relentless attention to safety, sustainability and employee engagement that has been honored multiple times by the construction industry.

Associated Industries of Massachusetts recognizes all these accomplishments in awarding the 2023 AIM Vision Award to R.H. White Companies.

The AIM Vision Award recognizes companies, organizations and individuals who have made unique contributions to the cause of economic opportunity in Massachusetts. The award reflects AIM’s mission to stand for jobs, economic prosperity, innovation and a government that acknowledges that the private sector has the unique responsibility to create the “common wealth” for the people of Massachusetts.

The largest employer association in Massachusetts will present the awards as part of its annual meeting on May 4 at the Seaport Hotel in Boston.

“AIM is proud to give its 2023 Vision Award to a company that for 100 years has built the infrastructure that forms the foundation of the Massachusetts economy,” said John Regan, President and Chief Executive Officer at AIM.

“The story of R.H. White Companies is a uniquely American story with equal measures of determination, innovation and the ability to respond to change. The result is an extraordinarily diversified company that continues to reflect the roots and values of its history in central Massachusetts.”

James E. McCarthy, President and Chief Executive Officer of R.H. White, said the company’s diverse operations reflect the fact that it is, at its base, a service company.

“It’s not really about what we do, it’s about what our customers need,” said McCarthy, a 36-year R.H. White veteran who serves as a member of the AIM Board of Directors.

Customers of R.H. White have needed a variety of things over the years, especially clean water and sanitation. The company responded to that need in the 1950s by acquiring a controlling interest in a private water utility called Milford Water Company. White purchased a second private utility, the Whitinsville Water Company, in 1962, and later ventured into the public water business with the purchase of the Southbridge Water Company.

R.H. White ultimately created a full water utility subsidiary called WhiteWater that remains a major part of the company.

The footprint of R.H. White construction projects is found throughout New England – from Wachusett Mountain Ski Area; to Cordis Mills Millbury which transformed a historic mill to 112 luxury apartments; to a $48 million water-treatment plant in Groton, Connecticut; and “critical clean” labs for Waters Corporation in Milford.

The company defines itself by a strong emphasis on safety in the workplace. R.H. White invests more than $1.5 million annually on safety and skills development and opened its own center for safety training in 2016. McCarthy said the company believes that forming safe behaviors that carry over into every aspect of employees’ lives through stringent work-safety requirements can dramatically reduce personnel injuries, prevent unnecessary damage or delays, and ensure the integrity of each project.

The company is also woven into the communities where it works. The R.H. White Charitable Foundation donates thousands of dollars each year to organizations throughout the region. The company is celebrating its centennial by setting a fundraising goal of $100,000 to each of three charities selected by the company’s employees – The Alzheimer’s Association, The Greg Hill Foundation and Easterseals.

“R.H. White is really a grass-roots company,” McCarthy said.

“We have really great people who do amazing work solving our customers problems so that these companies can focus on growing, thriving and creating economic opportunity for the people of Massachusetts and beyond.”