Going Sky High in New Hampshire
Family-owned Louis P. Cote Inc. stays focused on raising the roof—and everything else
In times of uncertainty, the steadfast bring comfort. People long for the old times, the good times, the stable times. They rely on businesses that have been there seemingly forever, day in and day out, with the same faces, the same experience.
Louis P. Cote Inc. is one of those time-honored, dependable companies. Louis P. Cote himself founded the company in 1945. The Goffstown, New Hampshire, rigging company relies on the old-school values of the Cote family to remain a consistent part of the region’s construction industry. Besides rigging and trucking, the company offers crating, machinery moving, millwright and laser alignment services wherever needed, with projects taking them to Greece and Hawaii.
“We are a true family business,” says John Cote Jr., President of Louis P. Cote Inc. “For the past 75 years, generations of Cotes have worked in the business.” John Cote Sr. is semi-retired and is the Chairman of the Board and Senior Advisor; and John Jr.’s uncle, Don Cote, is the Vice President. Other relatives—sons, daughters, wives—are currently working or have worked with the business.
“My youngest son will be starting with us this summer working with his older brother,” John says. “They will be doing assorted tasks and learning new skills in the yard, the warehouse and in the office, all while learning the business from the bottom up. I tell them that nowadays we have a cleaning service, but when I was their age, I was the cleaning service!”
Legacy of Innovation
They carry a legacy of innovation that began with the company’s namesake. Louis began his business career by collecting paper and cardboard from the various businesses and textile mills in Manchester, New Hampshire, for recycling. “His activities made him well known to many of the business owners and company supervisors throughout the city,” Don says.
As he grew his company and bought more equipment, he began moving stoves and other small machinery at the mills and gained the reputation as “the go-to guy to get things done,” explains John Jr. This caused his business to develop into the basis of what the company is today.
Louis died in 1965, leaving behind his wife, Jeanne, and seven children. “My grandmother managed the business, which was unusual at the time,” John says. “When salesmen came, she rather enjoyed telling them she was the cleaning lady, then she would watch them go on their way. No one thought she was the boss, but believe me, she was the boss.”
Around that time, people outside of the family were brought on to run the business. It worked for a while, but then the business began to suffer. John Sr. stepped in while in college and took charge of the company. After college Donald came aboard to help manage the company. A few years later their mother gave ownership of the company to them.
The company outgrew its Manchester home and in 1984 moved to its current facility on Cote Avenue in Goffstown.
75 Years Later
A lot has changed in the past 75 years, but its focus on relationships has not changed. “Any business is only as good as the men in the field, and we have good men,” Don says. “We are not a large company but the people who work in the field, our maintenance shop and office staff tend to stay with us a long time. Our retention rate is extremely good. Four of our people have been with the business for over 25 years,” John says.
Don agrees. “A lot of our guys come from our competitors. We tend to have the best field equipment, high safety standards and a good work atmosphere. We attract people who are the top of the field because they want to play with the bigger toys. They know we’ll treat them right and will work to build a relationship with them. They become family.”
Don and John both describe an open-door policy at the company. “Our doors are open to all of our employees and clients,” John says. “If anyone has an issue or thinks they can make a process better or has a health and safety concern, they can come to us. We’re open to suggestions because we want everyone to be successful. We also want everyone to be safe and go home to their families every day.”
Health and safety are extremely important, not only because it has to be, but because the company wants it to be. “We have a fleet of forklifts ranging from 2,000-pound capacity to 60,000-pound capacity Versa-Lifts,” says John. “The specialized Versa-Lift forklifts, hydraulic trailers and other specialized equipment that revolutionized the rigging industry need to be operated with safety always in mind.”
The company also has gantry systems ranging from 1-ton to 200-ton capacity. “These are used when you need to move large industrial machinery in tight areas,” John says. “With a clear height of 27 feet under the beam, our 200-ton hydraulic gantry is used in spaces where a crane or high capacity forklifts won’t fit.”
Keep It Simple
Working with Louis P. Cote is an intentionally straightforward process. “We keep things simple,” John says. “Typically, we get a request, write a proposal and send an invoice. It’s that easy.”
After being contacted by a customer, one of the company’s project managers will meet the customer on-site. “Our goal during the initial meeting is to see the site conditions, try to understand what they want to do and how they want to do it,” says John, adding, “A lot of the time, we come up with suggestions on how to complete the task in a more economical or efficient way. We’re in the business of making our clients’ lives easier.”
After agreeing on terms and the scope of work to be done, the company’s riggers arrive on-site and complete the project, many times, to the delight of the customer, quicker than planned. “Most of our jobs are one-day projects, but there are projects where we stay on-site for multiple weeks or months,” says John, who notes that the majority of projects come from repeat clients. “Eighty to 85% of our clients are repeat business,” Don says. “When people contact us, they know they are getting consistent, straightforward, professional riggers who can overcome any challenges.”
One such challenge was at McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center in Concord, New Hampshire. The museum found itself the new owner of a 1965 XF8U-2 Crusader supersonic jet, the same type of jet that Alan Shepard Jr. flew before he went to the moon. “Our job was to get the jet inside the building,” John says. “To bring the jet inside, we had to remove one of the museum’s walls. And then we used a 110-ton crane to hoist the plane off the transport, tail first, and we gently maneuvered it into the building using a forklift.” The plane was then hoisted into place. “We were proud of that project because Alan Shepard is a New Hampshire native. Because he was a Crusader test pilot, we felt like we were honoring his memory.”
Honoring memories, family connections, business connections and employees are key to Louis P. Cote’s past and future success. “We are relationship builders, just like my father was,” Don says. “From the installation of one piece of equipment to relocating an entire company, we can design a project plan to meet your needs. We’ve been doing this for 75 years, and we’ll be doing it for another 75 years. We’re a stable company—we aren’t going anywhere.”