Heavy/Highway All-Star

Leigh Tapani, President, Tapani, Inc.

Leigh Tapani, President, Tapani, Inc. (Battle Ground, WA)

By Cal Byer

Tapani, Inc. is a heavy/highway contractor based in Battle Ground, WA near the city of Vancouver, in the shadows of Portland, OR. The company works in Washington and Oregon. The company’s scope of work includes excavation and grading, utilities, water/wastewater, transportation, and environmental restoration. The company owns over 200 trucks and pieces of heavy equipment.

Tapani, Inc. was founded in 1983 by Iner and Beverly Tapani. The Tapanis’ six sons worked in the business with their son, Kevin, eventually following his father as president. Their younger son, Leigh, then succeeded Kevin as president in 2009.

Leigh Tapani stood out to the 2017 Heavy/Highway Dawn Peer Group as a special kind of leader. He is humble yet bold, soft spoken but intense, and visionary yet detail-oriented. He is a leader who has a presence, listens, and believes in continuous learning.
During the Dawn Peer Group discussions, Leigh described three hallmarks of Tapani, Inc. that fellow CFMA members identified as best practices. He shared his thoughts on these three topics:

  1. How is your family managing succession planning to build a strong, sustainable future?
    Currently, we have completed the transition of first generation to second generation in 2015. A third-generation family member works in the business and based on their capabilities, will determine their position and involvement in leadership of the business. The primary focus of our succession planning is doing what the best thing is for the business and the employees who have committed themselves to its success!
  2. Describe your company’s fleet management model for determining cost of ownership and optimizing replacement cycle?

    There are three interrelated aspects of driving efficiency and effectiveness in our fleet management program:

    • Cost of Ownership Formula = (Purchase price – Residual value) / (expected lifetime hours) plus 6% of rate for overhead allocation. We use an hourly depreciation that aligns with the ownership cost.
    • Replacement Decisions: As the machine approaches its expected lifecycle time, we do a full machine evaluation and determine to either extend ownership (rebuild or recondition) or move the asset out of the fleet.
    • Ownership vs. Rental Ratio: We balance our utilization of our core fleet by setting a target of 15% rental to offset the seasonal aspect of our industry, so we don’t have a larger fleet than we need.
  3. How does Tapani leverage technology in your fleet management operations? Are you using telematics in your fleet program?
    Currently, we are using Fleetwatcher telematics for fleet management. We have installed it on all of our fleet we own. We use Viewpoint for our fleet management software and HCSS Dispatcher for coordination of our fleet. We also use the telematics from the manufacturers that come with the machine.

Leigh Tapani describes his leadership style simply coming down to “find[ing] the best people I can, paint[ing] the vision, and empower[ing] them to achieve it.” Likewise, he describes the essence of the company’s accountability culture as “get[ting] the right people to begin with and keep[ing] them engaged. Committed employees hold themselves accountable for their own actions.” Leigh Tapani is a leader with a purpose, vision, strategy, and commitment to execution. He is focused on leading his company to a sustainable future and honoring the tradition of the Tapani family name. 

Cal Beyer is the Director of Risk Management for Lakeside Industries, Inc. in Issaquah, WA. Cal has more than 25 years of professional experience in safety, insurance and risk management serving the construction industry in various capacities. He has extensive experience in strategic risk improvement and risk management best practices for the construction industry.  Cal also serves on the Executive Committee for National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention.

Cal is a former member of CFMA’s Executive Committee and served as National Secretary for 2009-2010. He co-developed CFMA’s Emergency Management Planning CPE course. He speaks regularly at CFMA’s Annual Conference & Exhibition, frequently presents at CFMA regional conferences, and is an established author for CFMA Building Profits.