Peter Harris has spent his entire life in the town of Southold — and a good majority of those years involve doing highway work.
He worked for the NYSDOT for 28 years, with 24 of those years as a highway maintenance supervisor. After this period he went to work for the town of Southold and ultimately became the highway superintendent in 2001. He continues to serve in the position today.
The town of Southold consists primarily of the northern fork of the tip of Long Island and the chain of islands that continue on stretching out toward Connecticut ending with Fisher Island.
Surprisingly, to nearly everyone else who lives in New York State, this region of Long Island’s land mass is almost entirely agricultural, marked by rolling, gentle hills of corn fields, hay, horse farms, grape vineyards, pumpkin picking patches, nurseries and the like. And if that isn’t enough, nearly the entire township is surrounded by some of the most beautiful beaches anywhere in the northeast.
With all this rural space, the changing seasons can be a challenging and hectic time for a highway superintendent.
Every spring, Harris does town-wide leaf and brush cleanup. Residents put their leaves, wood and other organics to the curb and he uses grapple buckets to grab and load. From that material Harris makes mulch and sells it back to the residents.
And like many superintendents, Harris is always on the lookout for new equipment to help him and his crew get the job done.
Recently, Harris added a new Hyundai loader to his fleet.
“Like any other township, we do load a lot of material,” he said. “We make heavy use of attachments for the loader such as grapple buckets. We have found that for this application, the grapple bucket is far more effective than a 4-in-1 bucket. We purchased the Hyundai loader off of state contract. Our local supporting dealer is All Island Equipment.”
Over the years, Harris has purchased Takeuchi loaders, LeeBoy pavers, Interstate trailers, and Dynapac rollers — all from All Island Equipment.
“We have been very comfortable with the support that we have received from Gary Wade, the owner, and his staff. That has made us very comfortable purchasing state contract items when they are available through All Island,” he said.
Many years ago, before his first Hyundai purchase, Harris took a trip up to Syracuse, N.Y., to see the machines in action and was impressed with what he saw; a well designed heavy-duty loader that would meet his needs for $40,000 less than other loaders.
“I knew that buying a brand with a name that at the time our board members would not necessarily recognize could be a risky decision,” he said. “But, my feeling is that business is business and I can be voted out of here tomorrow. I need to do what’s best for our local taxpayers regardless of whether or not it is a popular decision.”
Trying to make the best decision in purchasing equipment for the township is not always an easy process with the board, according to Harris.
When making the decision to purchase the original Hyundai loader, ConExpo-ConAGG was coming up and Harris knew it was the perfect opportunity to closely examine every make and model of machine.
“It’s an unusual opportunity to discuss directly with factory representatives the features and benefits of every feasible piece of equipment that our department uses,” he said. “I spent three days at ConExpo looking at equipment from the time the show opened until the time the show closed.
“When it was all said and done, I decided that the Hyundai machines were the best buy for our dollar for our township. Overall, I found ConExpo to be very helpful over the years. The computer does not tell you what you need to know. You can’t sit in the cab; you can’t look the representative in the eyes; ConExpo gives you that opportunity,” said Harris.
For more information, call 631/643-2605, or visit http://www.allislandequipment.com/.
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