Utility Contractor

MAY-JUN 2018

As the official magazine of NUCA, Utility Contractor presents the latest information affecting every aspect of the utility construction industry, including technological advancements, safety issues, legislative developments and instructional advice.

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May/June 2018 | Utility Contractor 33 talent to the booming oil and gas industry. These loses have driven a serious demand for continued training in all the utility construction sectors. To advocate industry training, Akkerman has decided to host a free two-day educational forum in conjunction with our 45th anniversary celebration that will include both hands-on technical equipment training as well as a second classroom track geared for owners, engineers and contractors. The training sessions will be led by in-house experts at Ak- kerman as well as other notable industry professionals. Barbco – We believe there are plenty of resources to train new and even experienced contractors with offered train- ing upon purchase of new equipment. There are also other resources such as the Auger Boring School at Louisiana Tech so the younger, up-and-coming generation of auger borers can learn the fundamentals in a classroom environment. Michael Byrne Mfg. – We provide our customers with train- ing and manuals for each machine, the best and sometimes the worst training is with experienced bore operators and crews as they have encountered all kinds of different obstacles on au- ger bores. We have used experienced operators to assist with new to auger boring customers. The caveat is sometimes the experienced boring contractor has bad habits as well that they translate to the new operators. What current challenges are you facing as a manufactur- er? Finding skilled workers? Material costs/availability? Regulations? Akkerman – Equipment manufacturers face the same chal- lenges as our contractors. As the trenchless industry advances and companies seek to grow larger, acquiring new and skilled labor talent is a serious investment. Lead times of purchase components for equipment builds have increased significantly due to a surge in demand from other markets. Many vendors and suppliers of these compo- nents maintain a LEAN stocking principle which puts pressure on the manufacturers to carry excessive inventory to meet the tight deadlines of the construction industry. There are several challenges that all businesses such as Akkerman face on a weekly basis but with strong leaders, dedicated employees and hard work we keep moving for- ward so that we can do our part in working toward the light at the end of the tunnel. Barbco - The most difficult obstacles that we at Barbco run into as a manufacturer are material cost and availability due to restrictions and tensions on the issue of importation of ma- terials such as steel or iron ore causing volatility in the steel market. The other issue of a similar degree would be acquiring skilled labor to keep up with today's ever-changing manufac- turing scene. As machinery becomes more and more advanced, employees are now required to have some higher forms of edu- cation in order to be able to handle new equipment and manu- facturing processes. Michael Byrne Mfg. – The issue of finding new workers to replace existing workers is the challenge that almost every industry is facing in today's environment, the need for trades education is at a critical point. I know some contractors must hire foreign workers to work many of their jobs because the source is dried up for supply required. What is the market like for auger boring and tunneling equipment as an export? Do you sell equipment overseas? What is the market potential? Akkerman – Akkerman is proud to say that we are celebrat- ing our 45th year of business and to this day we manufac- ture each piece of equipment at our factory in Brownsdale, Minnesota. Although we are a global company and have supplied equipment to some of the furthest reaches of the globe, our primary customer base is in the Americas. Unless a specific overseas market is conducive to technol- ogy, quality, safety and performance enhancements of most U.S.-based products, these markets will continue to be dif- ficult to capture due to manufacturing price points. Barbco – Auger boring as an export is very much a large market and is continually growing. As some countries are taking huge steps in modernizing infrastructure and as some are rehabilitating their current infrastructure, they find that auger boring is an efficient and cost-effective way to mod- ernize without many of the repercussions of older methods such as open-cut. Barbco does sell equipment overseas and we also have dealers in many different areas of the world al- though we are always looking to grow in this market sector. Michael Byrne Mfg. – We do sell overseas, and there is a market there. Over the last several years the market has had to deal with a very strong dollar that makes American equip- ment more expensive (Canadians look at this as 30% tax). How long has your company been involved with NUCA? How does your company benefit from being a NUCA member? What activities/committees are you involved with? Akkerman – Belonging to NUCA allows not only provides us with more exposure in the market, it allows me as an in- dividual to grow through advocacy groups. As a part of the Trenchless Committee, I am hoping to assist with the Trench- less Manual that is currently in process, as well participate in the Washington Summit. Barbco – Barbco has been affiliated with NUCA somewhat off and on for over 20 years. We stay involved in many NUCA events and see great benefits from events such as trade shows or forums that allow us to network and further our industry knowledge. We are currently members of NUCA's Ohio chapter and in addition to NUCA's national chapter. Michael Byrne Mfg. – We have been a NUCA member for about 12 years now, and we find it to be a very helpful orga- nization to be associated with. NUCA is a thorough source for education, safety and networking with our industry as a whole. NUCA also provides discounts with various suppliers that of- ten makes the dues cost neutral.

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