Benjamin Dunning is a determined, driven visionary. He defied the predictions of doctors following a devastating 1995 airplane crash when they said that he would never walk again and would never have children. He not only walks, he drives motorcycles and heavy equipment like pay-loaders and dump trucks. And he and his wife, Donna, also have not just one, but two children: a daughter, Nicole, and a son, John.
Likewise, he refuses to accept the idea that the company he purchased from his father, R. Mort Dunning, in 2002, has a finite lifespan because there is a limited amount of sand and gravel left in the company quarries. Instead of figuring his company will close once the sand and gravel is depleted, he looks to the future, transforming Dunning Sand & Gravel into a green company that recycles just about any material that comes through the gate. He develops new products from what others before him considered waste and in the process, he also helps the environment. As a result, Dunning Sand & Gravel will continue to grow and thrive.
Ben, as he is known by his family, friends, employees and customers, began working at the company when he was 15 years old, literally learning from the ground up. Knowing that he would eventually take over Dunning Sand & Gravel, Ben decided to prepare by majoring in business management and minoring in accounting at Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire. He graduated in 1994, summa cum laude, with a bachelor of science degree.
Within months after graduation he asked his girlfriend, Donna Bartkus, to marry him. She said yes, but then just six days later, while taking off at Johnny Cake Airport in Burlington, Ben’s small, private plane crashed. The doctors were pessimistic, but with the help of his new fiancé, Ben willed himself to rehabilitate his broken body that included two shattered legs and a shattered spine. His left leg is still partially paralyzed and he walks with a limp, but he refuses to let that slow him down. He has even devised a method of driving heavy equipment with manual transmissions, using his damaged left leg to operate a clutch. His never give up attitude has served him well in life and in business.
In addition to being the owner and president of Dunning Sand & Gravel, Ben and his family live on a small farm in nearby Burlington, where they raise goats and other small livestock just for fun.
The motto Ben lives by is the quote by Henry Ford, “If you think you can … or can’t … you’re absolutely right.”