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O C TO BE R 2 0 0 9 C O N TE NTS

October 2009 | www.utilitycontractoronline.com

18 Mobile Metal Gear


By Jason Morgan
Battling through the troubled truck market.

18 14 22

14 Predicting Your Business


Future DEPARTMENTS
By Brad Dawson
8 Groundbreaking News
The five stages of strategic business planning.
40 Calendar
41 The Pipeline
22 Utility Contractor’s Salute
to the Minnesota Utility 42 Advertisers’ Index
Contractors Association
By Jason Morgan
We tip our hats to one of the hardest working
NUCA
chapters in NUCA. DEPARTMENTS
6 President’s Message

26 Track It Out
By Jason Morgan
28 Utility Construction EXPO ‘10

Mighty tracked trenchers tackle utility installations. 34 Inside Washington


36 Safety Management
38 NUCA News

4 Utility Contractor | October 2009


BENJAMIN MEDIA
Publishing Team
NU CA P R ES I D EN T’ S ME SSAGE Publisher
Bernard P. Krzys — bkrzys@benjaminmedia.com
Associate Publisher
Robert D. Krzys — robk@benjaminmedia.com
Editor
James W. Rush — jrush@benjaminmedia.com

Show Up and Speak Up! Managing Editor


Keith Gribbins — kgribbins@benjaminmedia.com
Associate Editor
Jason Morgan — jmorgan@benjaminmedia.com

“S
eize the day,” wrote Roman lyric poet Horace. It Contributing Editors
was good advice some 2,000 years ago and it’s good Sharon M. Bueno — sbueno@benjaminmedia.com
Bradley Kramer — bkramer@benjaminmedia.com
advice now. It’s advice I long ago decided to take with Pam Stask — pstask@benjaminmedia.com
regard to expressing my views to my representatives Creative Director
W.M. Conley — mconley@benjaminmedia.com
in Washington. As a utility contractor I have a unique perspective Graphic Designer
on the abysmal state of our nation’s underground infrastructure — Elizabeth C. Stull — estull@benjaminmedia.com
literally the view from the trenches — and as a small businessman, Marketing Manager
Pete McNeil — pmcneil@benjaminmedia.com
I know what it takes to keep a company afloat in today’s economy. Regional Sales Representative
To make informed decisions on my behalf, these lawmakers Ryan Sneltzer — rsneltzer@benjaminmedia.com
Circulation Manager
need to hear what I have to say and at every opportunity that Alexis R. Tarbet — atarbet@benjaminmedia.com
presents itself.
As President of NUCA, I’ve had the privilege of speaking before several congressional com- NUCA
mittees on infrastructure and small business issues. As a NUCA member, I’ve visited my Officers
state’s representatives in their Capitol Hill offices during the association’s annual Washington President
Lyle Schellenberg — Salem, Ore.
Summit. Is all that enough? Not in my opinion. There are a multitude of opportunities worth President-Elect
seizing in my own backyard. It’s just a matter of translating concern, and in some cases anger, Dan East — Albuquerque, N.M.
into effective political action. Let me give you an example. Senior Vice President
Ryan Schmitt — Jacksonville, Fla.
Recently, I read that my congressman, Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.), was holding a few Treasurer
public meetings in the district. One was going to be held in the food court of a local Alex Paris — Atlasburg, Penn.
shopping mall on the upcoming Saturday — an ideal opportunity to get a little more Secretary
James Barron — Joppa, Md.
face time with him. We had met previously in his Washington office during the Summit,
and when I testified before the Small Business Committee, he had, at my request, intro- NUCA
Vice Presidents
duced me. I arrived at the mall and discovered that I needed to fill out a sheet of paper
Bill Bocchino Chad Reed
outlining my issues. When the congressman walked into the mall, he immediately rec- Jacksonville, Fla. Dover, Del.
ognized me and I was able to use that opportunity to thank him for the congressional Virginia DiCristofaro
Warwick, R.I.
Dave Rice
Henderson, Nev.
introduction. By talking to his staff, I was able to have my paper moved to the last slot, Chuck Dimick Mark Scoccolo
Las Vegas, Nev. Pacific, Wash.
which I hoped might give me more than the three minutes allowed each constituent.
Glenn Ely Mike Smith
Since everyone else was talking about health care, I purposely avoided that topic and Newtown, Pa. Albuquerque, N.M.
concentrated on making a case for sewer and water infrastructure funding and, using Alan Gravel Keith Steen
Powder Springs, Ga. West Point, Ga.
my own company as an example, explained why changing the current laws governing Florentino Gregorio Bruce Wendorf
Washington, D.C. Punta Gorda, Fla.
the process of unionization was a case of fixing something that wasn’t broken. Ricky Harp Andy Wolf
I understand that due to economic restraints, it is difficult for most people to travel to Fayetteville, Ga. Davenport, Iowa
John Letourneau Kirk Woodward
Washington, D.C., to talk to his/her congressman or senator, but it is possible to personally Duluth, Minn. Phoenix, Ariz.
interact with these folks if one stays vigilant for opportunities at home and then acts on Ron Nunes
West Warwick, R.I.
those opportunities. We can and do make a difference when we show up and speak up. NUCA
Staff
Chief Executive Officer
Bill Hillman — bhillman@nuca.com
Regards,
Chief Operating Officer
Linda Holtz — linda@nuca.com
Director of Communications
Susan Williams — susan@nuca.com

October 2009 Volume 33, Number 10 Utility Contractor


(ISSN 1098-0342) is published monthly for the National
Lyle Schellenberg Utility Contractors Association by Benjamin Media Inc.,
1770 Main Street, PO Box 190, Peninsula, OH 44264.
Periodicals postage paid at Peninsula, OH and additional
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©2009 NUCA. All rights reserved by the National Utility
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6 Utility Contractor | October 2009 of undeliverable copies to Canada Express; 7686 Kimble
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G R O U N D B R EA K I N G N E W S

Construction Equipment Exports Dip


government has been us-
ing various economic
stimulus measures to
jump-start the economy.
The economic stimulus
package has fallen short
for construction ma-
chinery manufacturers.
But, free trade increases
exports and stimulates the
economy. It helps keep
American manufacturers
in business, providing
American jobs and eco-
nomic resources to com-
munities, states and the
nation.”
AEM urges Congress
to pass the free-trade
agreements already
completed and to leave
NAFTA alone, Cervero
noted. “Other nations
These are strange economic times. If the economic fallout has are joining in free trade agreements with each other, and we
showed us anything, it’s that we are a global economy — when are being left behind,” he said.
there’s a drastic change in one nation’s economy, it affects the “We also need to get our roads and bridges and other infra-
others. U.S. construction machinery exports dropped 36 per- structure in good condition so we can move goods to market
cent during the first half of 2009, with $6.4 billion shipped to more efficiently. China and many other nations realize the con-
global markets compared to $10.1 billion at mid-year 2008, ac- nection and are spending much more on infrastructure than we
cording to the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM). are — China’s 9 percent of GDP, for example, compared to 0.93
All world regions recorded double-digit declines in construc- percent for the United States. We need to be sure U.S. manu-
tion equipment exports for the first half of 2009, led by Europe facturers have access to business around the world, as other
and Canada. nations ramp up their infrastructure funding to better compete
on a global scale,” Cervero added.
• Exports declined 53 percent to Europe for a total $777 The top 10 countries buying the most U.S.-made construc-
million and dropped 45 percent to Canada for a total tion machinery during the first half of 2009 were: (1) Canada
$1.8 billion. — $1.8 billion, down 45 percent; (2) Mexico — $510 million,
• Exports to Asia decreased 30 percent to $939 million. down 6 percent; (3) Australia — $473 million, down 43 per-
• Exports to Central America dropped 21 percent to $662 cent; (4) Chile — $425 million, up 5 percent; (5) South Africa
million, with a lesser decline to South America — minus — $231 million, down 38 percent; (6) Belgium — $222 million,
14 percent for a total $1.2 billion. down 39 percent; (7) Brazil — $216 million, down 16 percent;
• Australia/Oceania’s export purchases decreased 42 (8) China — $210 million, down 6 percent; (9) Peru — $177
percent to $497 million, while Africa took delivery million, up 1 percent; and (10) Colombia — $168 million, up
of $528 million worth of construction equipment, a 27 percent.
24-percent drop. India came in at No. 16 with $76 million worth of construc-
tion equipment purchases, a 33-percent gain compared to mid-
“U.S. exports of construction equipment began to erode in year 2008. No.18 was Russia at $67 million, a drastic decline of
third quarter 2008 with the worsening global recession. We’re an 71 percent from the first half of 2008.
export-intensive industry and the continuing decline is especially The AEM off-road equipment manufacturing trade group consoli-
detrimental since we’re also experiencing steep cuts in domestic dates U.S. Commerce Dept. data with other sources into global trend
business,” stated Al Cervero, AEM Senior Vice President. “The U.S. reports for members.

8 Utility Contractor | October 2009


GR OUND B R E A KI NG NEWS

Regulating Emissions Stage III A cooled EGR diesel engines and has “Our field experience has also proven that
John Deere Employs New Engine the highest field population of cooled EGR John Deere cooled EGR engines operate effi-
Technologies to Meet EPA engines currently operating. ciently with traditional low-sulfur diesel fuels
Requirements Extensive testing in key products featuring as well as B5 to B20 biodiesel blends,” Ma-
John Deere will use cooled exhaust gas re- these engines, such as the 350D excavator, standuno said. “We’ve seen optimal perfor-
circulation (EGR) engines with exhaust filters 700J crawler dozer and the new 772G mo- mance with fuel-choice flexibility, and Deere
consisting of a diesel oxidation catalyst/diesel tor grader, has shown a 10-percent or greater dealers will be highly trained to service and
particulate filter in its construction equipment advantage in “material moved per fuel used” support these new engines and optimize total
to meet the 2011 Interim Tier 4 (IT4)/Stage over competitors. vehicle efficiency.”
III B emissions regulations mandated by the
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for
diesel engines 174 hp and above.
“We’re looking to provide the simplest
IT4 solution for equipment users, all while
delivering the productivity, uptime and low
daily operating costs that customers expect
from Deere,” said Joe Mastanduno, Product
Marketing Manager, Engines and Drive-
trains, for John Deere Construction & For-
estry. “We believe cooled EGR with exhaust
filters is the right technology right now.”

The new John Deere Power Systems


engines will utilize EGR to meet the
emissions standards. Testing has
already started on machines like this
350 D excavator.

Deere’s approach to the IT4 solution builds


upon the current clean burning and fuel effi-
cient Tier 3/Stage III A PowerTech Plus engine
platform manufactured by John Deere Power
Systems. The John Deere cooled EGR engine
platform for IT4 compliance is simpler, more
operator friendly and less complex to maintain
compared with selective catalytic reduction
(SCR) systems, said company officials.
“Unlike SCR, this IT4 solution doesn’t re-
quire liquid urea to achieve emissions com-
pliance, so there are no additional fluids to
worry about obtaining, filling or storing on
remote jobsites at proper temperatures,” Ma-
standuno said. “EGR is a single-fluid solution
and that fluid is diesel fuel.”
John Deere was the first manufacturer to
widely commercialize off-highway Tier 3/
October 2009 | Utility Contractor 9
G R O U N D B R EA K I N G N E W S

Constructing the Future


Doosan Infracore’s Sleek Excavator Concept Wins Award
Equipment concepts excite our ideas Doosan Infracore’s futuristic
of how wondrous the machines of the concept excavator was well re-
future could be, and Doosan Infra- ceived by the judges for its Eco-
core’s sleek concept excavator, the “CX,” Transformer concept, which
sparked enough awe to win the Best of reflects four core benefits — ecol-
the Best Award at the 2009 Reddot De- ogy, safety, usability and efficiency.
sign Award Show. The excavator is designed to func-
More than 2,733 designs were en- tion at the highest level at various
tered, from 61 countries, and 206 were working sites, be environmentally
honored at the Reddot Design Award, friendly with energy-efficiency
which awards products that are cre- and exhibit high performance
ative, innovative and superior in qual- even in severe conditions. Devel-
ity. Out of these awarded designs, only opment of this futuristic excava-
15, including Doosan Infracore’s futur- tor is targeted to finish by 2018.
istic concept excavator, were presented The Reddot Design Award was Doosan Infracore’s “CX” design is among the Best
of the Best. However, no word on the inclusion
with the Best of the Best Award. Out of first started in 1955 and is man-
of a flux capacitor or hyperdrive functions.
those 15 Best of the Best Awarded de- aged by Design Zentrum Nord-
signs, only one will be presented with heim Westfalen in Germany. This top three industrial design competitions
the honorary Luminary Award on Nov. award is given after the world’s biggest de- along with the iF Design Award and the
24, 2009, in Singapore. sign competition and is one of the world’s IDEA Design Award.

Tracking Tools When the Powers Combine


When you’re trying to save every penny, you Navistar and Cat Joint Venture Creates New Company
can’t have tools walking off the jobsite. That’s why The joint venture between Navistar International Corp. and Caterpillar Inc.
Dynamic Systems Inc., a Redmond, Wash., software that was announced over a year ago in June 2008 has finally closed, creating
developer specializing in data collection applica- a new company — NC2 Global LLC — to serve the global commercial truck
tions for the construction industry, offers a low-cost market. The leadership team of the new entity will establish its headquarters
tool manager program based on bar code technol- in the Chicago area.
ogy. Bar code data collection has been proven to be “Together, Navistar and Caterpillar have moved this project from concept
the most accurate and efficient method of track- to reality in little more than one year,” said Al Saltiel, President of NC2.
ing or counting tools and equipment. One minute “We now have a dedicated and experienced leadership team that will hit the
checking a tool out or in can save you the cost of a ground running.”
lost or stolen tool. Saltiel brings a wide range of global distribution and marketing experi-
Barcode technology has been actively used for over ence to NC2. As Vice President of Marketing and head of Navistar’s market-
20 years in manufacturing, distribution and retail to ing efforts since 2004, Saltiel was responsible for all brand, product and
track inventory and jobs. The barcode terminals are pricing strategy. Prior to joining Navistar, he held key senior marketing posi-
similar to PDAs and provide imme- tions at Sony Electronics, Jaguar and Ford’s Premier Automotive Group.
diate and accurate information. “NC2 will produce and market a full line of commercial on-highway
There are barcode labels trucks for markets outside of North America,” says Saltiel. “Customers
designed for harsh will benefit from the unparalleled depth and scope of support provided by
environ- Navistar and Caterpillar’s global dealers.”
ments As previously announced, the 50/50 joint venture will develop, manufacture
that are and distribute commercial trucks with an initial focus on markets including
durable Australia, Brazil, China, Russia, South Africa and Turkey. NC2’s product line
enough will feature both conventional and cab-over truck designs and will be sold un-
to with- der both the Cat and International (Navistar) brands.
stand the “The formation of this joint venture represents a long-term strategic decision,”
dirt, grease and said Caterpillar Group President Doug Oberhelman. “Despite the current
rough use that many challenges facing the global economy, both Caterpillar and Navistar are ded-
tools experience. icating the right people and investing significant resources to ensure NC2’s
long-term success in the global on-highway truck market.”

10 Utility Contractor | October 2009


G R O U N D B R EA K I N G N E W S

Robotic Bobcats SJC-equipped loader used in the rough manner the military
Meet a New Kind of Military Machine requires,” said Dr. William Ribich, President of the Technol-
ogy Solutions Group. “The kit gives the war-fighter and bomb
Skid steers — often referred to as the “Swiss Army Knife” disposal teams tremendous flexibility in a cost-effective man-
of construction equipment (much to the chagrin of con- ner, given the low cost of the Bobcat loaders manufactured in
struction equipment magazine editors) — can now tackle a high volumes for civilian uses compared to customized robots
new jobsite task. But this time, it’s not material movement, built in small numbers just for counter-IED activities.”
digging or demolition. It’s finding improvised explosive The robotics kit for Bobcat loaders includes seven cam-
devices (IEDs) on the battlefield. eras, a microphone to enable the remote operator to hear
QinetiQ North America, makers of the TALON robots ambient sound from the cab, three different CREW 2.1
used extensively to defuse roadside bombs in Iraq and Af- compatible radio options, three control options (laptop,
ghanistan, announced a new large-scale robotic technology wearable and table top), green and yellow warning lights to
that it has developed jointly with Bobcat Co., a manufac- signal robotic engagement, an anti-rollover warning system
turer of Bobcat compact loaders. and emergency manual shut off switches on the vehicle and
QinetiQ North America’s Technology Solutions Group has on the control panel that support remote restart.
developed a kit that can be installed in about 15 minutes The kit’s hardened electronics are rated at 156 degrees
on any of 17 models of Bobcat skid steers, all-wheel steers fahrenheit to handle the solar load in places like Iraq and
or compact track loaders that are equipped with the select- Afghanistan and have passed rigorous MIL-STD-810F en-
able joystick controls (SJC) option. This temporarily turns vironmental testing. Cameras include five mounted on the
the loader into a remotely-operated “robot” capable of us- roof, one in the cab and one on the vehicle looking at the
ing more than 37 Bobcat-approved attachments. The loader load. Night vision is provided by IR Illumination and ther-
can be sent down-range to handle large, deep-buried IEDs mal imaging in addition to the white lights on the Bobcat
that require actual excavation to dislodge or a bucket to lift loader itself.
and remove.
In Afghanistan, where
there are reported to be
more than 100 million
mines, Bobcat loaders
could also be used to
remotely render safe
mines on building sites.
Upon completion
of a mission, the kit is
removed and the ma-
chine reverts to “in the
seat” operation. The kit
can be swapped from
one SJC-equipped
Bobcat loader to an-
other by the user, al-
lowing the mission to
dictate what size ma-
chine to use along with
the specific attachment
works best.
“Other companies
have roboticized in-
dividual pieces of
earth-moving equip-
ment, but until now,
no one has created
a universal kit that
can quickly remotely Skid steers can do it all, but now they can do it without an operator in the seat thanks to QinetiQ North America’s
control any Bobcat robot kit. It’s designed to help identify and defuse improvised explosive devices (IEDs) on the battlefield.

12 Utility Contractor | October 2009


The Key to Predicting Your Business Future
BMI Educational Webinar Series

Presenter: Brad Dawson, Managing Director of LTV Dynamics


Date: October 20, 2009
Time: 2 p.m. EST
Registration: www.benjaminmedia.com/webinars
Sponsored by Utility Contractor

Cost: FREE

Strategic planning has become an


annual administrative rite. Every year,
contractors brush off last year’s plans
and doggedly seek to update their
strategies. Once completed, the task, like
filing tax returns and conducting em-
ployee reviews, is checked off for another
year. What value do you really get from
that sort of current planning process?
When done correctly, strategic plan-
ning is a dynamic and invigorating
process. New market opportunities are
explored and competitive threats van-
quished. A true strategic plan however is
not an annual event. It is an activity that
is tied to your business cycle – a period
for contractors that extends for approxi-
mately 5 years. Brad Dawson, Managing
Director of LTV Dynamics, gazes into his
crystal ball to provide participants with
a clear explanation of the five phases of
the natural business cycle and pinpoints
the exact location their business is in
with regards to this cycle. Now is the
time for growth.
Predicting Your
Business Future

The Five Stages of Strategic Business Planning


By Brad Dawson

trategic planning has become an annual admin- A true strategic plan, however, is not an annual event.
istrative rite. Every year, contractors brush off It is an activity that is tied to yourr b buss iness cycle — a
last year’s plans and doggedly seek to update period for contractors that extend n s fo
nd forr approxim mattel
elyy
their contentss . Onn ce c o mpleted, the task, like five years.
filing tax returns and c on nducttin
ing
n g em
e pl
p oy
oyee
eee rev
evv ie
iews
wss , iss The business cycle is a seriies of five v phahase
ha ses,
se s, eac
s, ach h with
checcke
k d off forr an
a otthe
herr ye
year. What value do yo youu really ly a prediccta
tabl
blee time dur
bl urrat
atio
ion
io n. Contractorss aare
re lit
iter
eral
er allly able
g e from
get omm you
ourr current
cu plannii ng process? to
o pre
r di
dict
ct busininesss bo
booms and busts with thh a high degree
When done correctly, strategic planning is a dynam- of accuraccy and craft effective strategic plans to achieve
ic and invigorating
g g process.
p New market opportuni-
pp desired results. Understandingg yyour business cycle y is the
ties are explored and competitive threats vanquished. key to unlocking your strategic advantage.

14 Utility Contractor | October 2009


The “R” Cycle the phase where transformation must occur to successfully
Before you can exploit the business cycle, you need enter the next business cycle. This is where the competi-
to understand its components. Enter the “R” Cycle. tive advantage is born.
Every business cycle begins with the Research Phase. Business transformation can occur vertically or horizon-
During this phase, contractors and suppliers develop tally. Vertical transformation relies on maintaining a sub-
new products and services, test these offerings in the set of your existing customer base and adding niche of-
marketplace and identify specific tactics to ensure ferings that satisfy a smaller, more unique, customer type.
offering success. As the strategic phase of the cycle, This vertical transformation approach refines the business’
the Research Phase’s primary success characteristics offerings, reduces the number of potential customers and
are high levels of market savvy and competitive intel- increases the service rates.
ligence. The typical duration for this phase is approxi- Horizontal transformation occurs when businesses look
mately six months. sideways to those industries that are performing services
The second phase of the business cycle is the Re- that fit under a broader umbrella of customer service.
lease Phase. This phase, referred to as the “market During recessionary periods, it is a common practice to
bet,” is characterized as the period when new offer- acquire related businesses as a means to expand a cus-
ings are released to the entire target market popula- tomer base, diversify a scope of offerings and increase the
tion. Aggressive marketing and sales campaigns are size of the employee workforce. Businesses that practice
enacted — spending all or most of the available funds horizontal transformation during a recessionary period
of the business. The typical duration for this phase is often achieve exponential growth during the subsequent
six to 12 months. business cycle.
The favorite phase of every contractor is the Reward In a typical contractor business, you must transform
Phase. Lasting approximately two years, this phase is your business at least every five years to remain com-
characterized by sharp increases in revenues (but not petitive. Business stagnation places you at a competitive
always profits). It comes with high levels of owner risk — where other businesses will evolve beyond your
euphoria that, in some cases, creates a false sense of current offerings.
never-ending success. However, because the business
is in a cycle, this phase eventually does come to an Leveraging Your Customer’s Position
end — much to the chagrin of every owner. Knowing where your customers reside in their busi-
Revenues generated from the Reward Phase are used ness cycle provides you with a competitive edge as pur-
to start the Reinvest Phase — the next phase in the busi- chasing decisions change based on the prevailing phase.
ness cycle. Flush with cash and high levels of owner During early phases of the cycle, potential customers
confidence reinvestments are made to the infrastruc- have very little discretionary cash making sales a long
ture, employee base and, in some cases, other busi- and expensive process. In fact, attempting any form of
nesses are acquired. Investments during this phase are new customer acquisition while a targeted customer is
expected to strengthen the overall business structure, in the initial phases of their business cycle is usually
extend the euphoria of the Reward Phase and begin to met with failure – regardless of your value proposition.
position the business for the last phase of the cycle. Later, as your customer evolves into the Reward and
The duration of this phase is approximately one year. Reinvest Phases, purchasing decisions are often expedit-
Every business cycle concludes with the Rework ed with lower levels of vendor scrutiny. It is during these
Phase. At this point in the cycle, revenues have phases that new customer acquisition is most successful.
dropped off – usually quite dramatically from the Flush with cash, customers are more open to examining
Reward period. Business transformation is necessary value proposition messages and incorporating vendor
to ensure an effective transition to the next business promises into their “expansion” plans. You become part of
cycle. During this phase, contractors reinvigorate your customer’s growth solution.
strategic planning efforts and carefully explore in- Customers acquired during the Reward and Reinvest
dustry paradigm shifts. The duration of this phase is Phases can be extended as paying relationships through
approximately six months. every other phase in the business cycle. The key is to refine
your product and service offerings to match your custom-
Your Competitive Transformation er’s needs as they evolve through their business cycle.
Where is your industry evolving? What customer
needs are not being met? What other industries are be- Exploiting Your Competitor’s Cycle
ginning to impact your business activities? How does The competition is constantly working to take your cus-
your business need to change to take advantage of your tomers away. Successful businesses use the “R” Model to
evolving market? pinpoint a competitor’s cycle position and, subsequently,
These are the questions that the contractor faces as he or implement strategic counter tactics leveraging the weak-
she enters the Rework Phase of the business cycle. This is nesses inherent in every phase.

October 2009 | Utility Contractor 15


If your competitor is in the initial stages of its busi- or small contractors that constantly feel like they are
ness cycle, capital resources are being used to intro- starting over every year, the problem is not with the
duce new offerings to the market. You have an ability cycle. The issue is that the product and service offer-
to piggyback the efforts of your competitor by fol- ings are perceived to be of limited, if any, value by the
lowing a “me too” market strategy. Under a “me too” marketplace. The initial phases of the cycle are being
market strategy, a business relies on the research re- short-changed.
sults of the competitive firm and follows their lead Most contractors try to extend the Reward Phase of
into the marketplace. The business saves the costs of the business cycle. Unfortunately, the Reward Phase is
conducting their own research but also runs the risk only a single component of the cycle that will, even-
of not having any tangible results to support their tually come to an end. Contractors caught up in this
market strategy. phase miss the importance of the Reinvest Phase and
When your competition is in the Reward or Re- are unable to effectively position themselves for the
search Phase, there is still an opportunity to beat Rework Phase — the most important phase to ensure
them – even during this cycle peak. Businesses that your business’ success for the next business cycle.
are enjoying the spoils during these phases often start As a result, it is commonplace to see businesses only
to take their customers for granted. Customer service remain in operation through a single business cycle.
begins to fall off as these businesses seek to increase The business cycle is a predictable event that
their customer base. Lower tier customers, frustrated can be leveraged for your competitive advantage.
by a lack of attention, seek alternative businesses to The key is to realize that each cycle phase can be
satisfy their requirements. Referred to as “low-hang- used to increase customer rosters, defeat competitors
ing fruit,” these unhappy customers make ideal addi- and strengthen your own business. The “R” Model is
tions to a business that is not enjoying the benefits of a powerful tool that identifies phase characteristics
the Reward and Research Phases. and indicates when a phase is coming to its natural
end. When used correctly, the “R” Model predicts the
Getting Stuck in the Cycle future of any business.
Failure to effectively execute the requirements of each
business cycle phase can stop a business dead in its Brad Dawson is an internationally-recognized business
tracks. While each phase has its own evolutionary char- strategist and growth-oriented financial management con-
acteristics, trying to operate your business outside these sultant. He is a frequent speaker at business events and
confines can derail even the very best businesses. serves as a contributing writer to several international man-
It is not uncommon for some businesses to never agement and leadership publications. He can be reached at
evolve beyond the Release Phase. For entrepreneurs BLDawson@LTVdynamics.com

More Future Predictions


BMI Webinar Educational Series
Presenter: Brad Dawson, Date: October 20, 2009
Managing Director of LTV Dynamics Time: 2 p.m. EST
Registration: www.benjaminmedia.com/webinars Sponsored by Utility Contractor
Cost: FREE
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16 Utility Contractor | October 2009


Battling Through the Troubled Truck Market
By Jason Morgan

N
ose-diving sales, bankrupt companies and govern- and the extreme volatility of the stock market. The economy
ment bailouts have all taken their toll on the long, has dramatically impacted the medium-duty range because
tough road of a downward spiraling truck mar- many of the vehicles are used in service-type industries.
ket. Brothers in work truck arms — like Sterling The industry has seen a drop of almost 70 percent since the
and General Motors (GM) medium-duty chassis cabs — have high of 2006, according to Bloom.
been lost. Though the war against slumping sales continues, In the utility sector, there are typically two different groups of
it looks like there’s a break in the battle, bringing relief and a truckers — the major fleet operators and the smaller indepen-
sense of hope for the future. dent contractors. The government side of it has seen some signs
“The market isn’t going down anymore. We’ve bottomed out of recovery thanks to stimulus funding, but independent utility
and we’re seeing hope in specific sectors where there are people contractors are still being tremendously impacted.
that need vehicles,” says Todd Bloom, Vice President of Market- Ford, which has been the leader in the commercial truck
ing for Isuzu Commercial Truck of America Inc. “We are adapt- market for 24 years with 43 percent of the Class 2 to 7 segment,
ing to the market that is picking up a bit, but the growth over also sees signs of recovery.
the next year is going to be small. Isuzu is projecting 10 to 15 “Our commercial customers — from RV and body build-
percent. It’s a long way to go. However, we do see that by 2013 ers to equipment upfitters and dealers — are seeing increased
and 2014, we will be back at a level in medium duty-trucks that’s demand,” says Len Deluca, Director of Commercial Trucks,
comparable to the high levels that were seen in 2006 and 2007.” Sales and Marketing for Ford. “They’re taking advantage of
This time last year, the medium-duty truck market was in our full range of commercial vehicle offerings in our Super
dire straits thanks to a 26 percent increase in diesel fuel prices Duty lineup. That’s good news for us.”

18 Utility Contractor | October 2009


Ford also sees an increased de-
mand for medium-duty (F-650
and F-750) production. “Our
customers are cautiously increas-
ing their orders,” Deluca says.
“There are companies buying
trucks who stayed out of the mar-
ket the last few years.”
Within the last two years, true
truckers — hauling horse trail-
ers, large equipment, trailers,
etc. — have stayed in the market
and many image kings — per-
sonal use customers, boats and
toy haulers, etc. — have left, says
Nantaé Rayners, Truck Marketing
Manager for Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc.
“Customers and companies are also using their
When you think utility truck, a cab-forward might not come to
trucks for a much longer period of time potentially waiting
mind at first. But with the multitude of chassis options, you
for an up in the economy and housing market.”
can tailor one to fit your needs.

Staying Solid in a Soft Economy medium-duty chassis cab, now they are piloting smaller trucks
The enemy economy has infiltrated your fortress of profits. that better fit their needs.
Bleeding capital, you have to reposition to take out the threat. Operating costs are also a major consideration of today’s truck
For the medium-duty truck market, adaptation is the key. buyers. Sure, the machine costs you money up front, but not doing
The new economy has brought new buying trends. For in- your homework on the maintenance schedule and cost of repair
stance, buyers interested in trucks are downsizing. Whereas in could turn your trusty steel jobsite steed into mechanical money-
years past you may have seen someone driving a burly Class 6 gobbling monster. The truck business is similar to the car busi-

October 2009 | Utility Contractor 19


ness, in that it’s talking about a transaction price — not just what’s the country falls in line. For some potential truck buyers,
the discount off the retail price. these price hikes have increased the interest in gasoline-
“What it comes down to is ‘I have a vehicle and a need for a powered trucks.
new vehicle, so what is the transaction price of this vehicle vs. The low rumbling of an idling diesel has long been the call
another?’” explains Bloom. “And people can look at incentives. of the workman’s truck, but saving green reigns supreme.
There are discounts on bodies and chassis. There are discounts So gas has been a growing market for vocational medium-
based on vocation and based on financing. There are dealer duty trucks. Without the extra technology needed to meet the
programs out there. If you’re interested in a quality vehicle, diesel emissions standards, gasoline-powered trucks tend to
now is the best time to consider it.” be less expensive.
Just as it did when diesel vehicles had to install a diesel “Last year when fuel prices jumped and diesel was so high,
particulate filter (DPF) to meet engine emissions standards in we saw a softening in diesel market. But this year, diesel orders
2008, the cost for the new technology to hit emissions stan- have stabilized,” says Deluca of Ford.
dards for 2010 is going to send some buyers into various states
of sticker shock. An Old Truck on a New Jobsite
All diesel engines produced after Jan. 1, 2007, must Regardless of the market, your work truck productively
comply with regulations requiring the reduction of nitro- churns its mobile metal gears day in and day out. You don’t
gen oxide (NOx) and hydrocarbons (HC) by 50 percent call it quits until the job is done and you need a truck that does
and particulate matter (PM) by 90-plus percent over the the same. If you can’t stretch your dollar into a new truck, you
previous 2004 emission standards. And starting in January might consider a pre-owned vehicle.
2010, every on-highway diesel engine built in this country “Within every sector, there are people who buy new and
has to have NOx emissions that are under .02 ppm. Most those who buy pre-owned vehicles,” Bloom explains. “Usually,
manufacturers will use a system called selective catalytic people in a new a business start out with a used vehicle and
reduction (SCR). move into a new vehicle. You have businesses that are contract
If you looked at a $30,000 vehicle in 2005 — the 2008 utility installations and they’re on a job-by-job basis. They are
$3,000 to $5,000 price increase plus another $3,500 to $5,000 owner operators and they tend to start with a used vehicle and
price hike for 2010 technology puts that same machine around build their fleets from there.”
$40,000 to $45,000. If you can’t afford a new or new-to-you truck, you’re not
If you’re in a state with stringent emissions standards — alone. According to Bloom, the time frame that people are
like California — that is pushing diesel on-highway engine holding onto trucks has actually increased in the past couple
users to adopt the best available technology (BAT) to im- of years. Part of that is due to financing. Before the downturn,
prove the air quality, the price of new technology is unavoid- vehicles were leased more readily. But today, a buyer has to
able. For the rest of us, it’s only avoidable until the rest of have better credit, making purchase more difficult.

the filter is cleaned using a high tempera- • Exhaust Filter Is Full and Engine Per-
New Maintenance ture (around 1,700 degrees Fahrenheit in formance Is Limited means the driver
Objectives the particulate filter) regeneration process needs to safely pull over and begin
Most new technology usually comes with that leaves a harmless ash and residue. manual regeneration to prevent engine
a learning curve. Take the latest diesel emis- There are different regeneration processes shutdown.
sions technologies for on-highway truck en- in the industry, including automatic regen-
gines, which have new maintenance routines. eration, manual regeneration and DPF re- • Soot Overload is a serious engine
Workhorse Custom Chassis, a leading manu- moval for an exchange, or off-vehicle re- problem that has occurred and the en-
facturer of chassis for Class 3 to 6 walk-in generation. Driving at highway speeds will gine may shut down soon. Safely pull
trucks used in construction, utility and land- typically cause automatic regeneration to off the road, turn on flashers, place
scaping operations, has noticed instances of occur. However, for low speed and stop- warning devices and stop engine.
driver failure in this regard. and-go city driving, manual regeneration DO NOT USE parked regeneration. Call
Right now, on-highway diesel trucks are is needed. for service.
equipped with a diesel particulate filter (DPF) For this typical system, there are four
to reduce particulate matter, explains Mike levels of warning that indicate potential • Manual Parked Regeneration is a simple
Knaack, a technical writer for TaigMarks Inc. hazards and the action needed: process of hitting a switch that increases the
The DPF captures soot and larger sulfate engine speed to a set RPM to achieve the
particles in a series of ceramic honeycomb • Low Soot Load Buildup requires the temperature needed to burn off the soot.
channels as gas passes through the porous driver to get up to highway speed to en- Needless to say, this will make the exhaust
material, and the particulates are trapped gage the automatic regeneration or to very hot, so the driver needs to take care
and accumulate on the channel walls. safely pull over and engage in manual to park away from people or combustible
After thousands of miles, depending on the parked regeneration. materials and vapors. This process takes
duty cycle, the DPF will eventually become about 30 minutes. To thoroughly clean the
clogged if nothing is done. • Exhaust Filter Is Full requires the driver DPF system, the vehicle should also be run
To prevent the DPF from clogging, the to safely pull over and begin parked re- at highway speeds for 20 minutes after a
trapped particulates are burned off, and generation to prevent loss of power. manual regeneration.

20 Utility Contractor | October 2009


If you are in the market for a new
truck, you expect to see the value of the
vehicle — be it through service intervals,
fuel economy, residual values or repairs.
Ford Work Solutions, for example,
is a suite of productivity technology
available for the F-Series, E-Series and
Ford Transit Connect. Ford Work Solu-
tions offers an in-dash computer with
a navigation system and Bluetooth for
hands-free calling, keeping your crew
connected and safe. Tool Link, an RFID
asset tracking system, keeps track of
tools and equipment, while Crew Chief
allows fleet owners to manage their ve-
hicles through fleet telematics and di-
agnostics system. The last piece of Ford
Work Solutions offers a cable lock se- You aren’t the only cargo your work truck hauls to and from the jobsite. Small equipment
like a skid steer or loader backhoe can often be towed by a medium-duty pickup.
curity system to discourage theft of ex-
pensive tools in the pickup. using the trucks and make operational corrections to im-
With all the new technology being implemented, it’s no sur- prove product efficiency.
prise that truck manufacturers are able to pull mountains of The medium-duty truck market has changed. There’s no de-
operational data from your truck. However, you might find a nying the new technology and trends, but there’s true value in
few surprises in what those numbers can tell you. today’s market offerings. Potential truck buyers should gather
Isuzu, for example, issues a Health Report every time vital intel on their operations and finances to find the truck that
the truck is serviced — offering info for everything from will best fit their jobsites.
acceleration and braking to idling and regeneration.
Owners can check the sheet to see how their drivers are Jason Morgan is Associate Editor of Utility Contractor.

October 2009 | Utility Contractor 21


Utility Contractor’s
Salute to a NUCA Chapter
By Jason Morgan

Though the National Utility Contractors Association (NUCA) headquarters is strategically


placed in Arlington, Va., a mere stone’s throw away from Capitol Hill, its heart is pumping across
the country. Like any association, NUCA gains its strength from its 24 chapters. Each year,
Utility Contractor takes a moment to salute a NUCA chapter. This year, the excellent work and its
support of NUCA have earned the Minnesota Utility Contractor Association (MUCA) the UC salute.

L
ike every other state across the country, Minneso- and did not have a permanent staff person — members do-
ta has its infrastructure problems. Luckily, MUCA nated their time to keep notes and logs of their meetings.
crusades for the interests of all utility contractors There were five original Board Members that were
on both the state and federal legislative levels. elected by ballot at the first session. Stan Hemphill, C.
The association staff has over 40 years of combined leg- S. McCrossan, was elected the first President of MUCA
islative and association policy experience. MUCA’s Lob- and Tom Schany, Northdale Construction, was elected
byist is Mike Robertson, a former Deputy Commissioner Vice President. Larry Gordon, DGB Inc., was voted Sec-
of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and with the retary/Treasurer and the other Board Members were K.O.
help of MUCA’s effective and experienced team at the Hafner, Johnson Brothers, Tom Montgomery, Thomas
Capitol, they know how to make things happen. But be- Montgomery Construction, and Wayne Brown, Brown
fore MUCA was a bustling utility contractor community, and Chris Inc.
it was a small, dedicated group of individuals who want- “The early days of the chapter were consumed with
ed to make a difference. discussing objectives and laying out principles for the
MUCA was formed in the summer of 1978 when a organization,” says DeAnn Stish, MUCA Executive Direc-
group of contractors came together to work on bridging tor. “There were five areas of focus that committees were
communication with the engineering community. There established to work on: membership; finance; policy and
were only around 20 companies in the early days of the planning; nominating; and specifications. One of the
chapter. They met at the offices of the different members main areas of focus beyond establishing the organiza-

22 Utility Contractor | October 2009


tion and its inner-workings
was helping to standardize
underground specifications
in Minnesota. The next area
of focus was the amount of
money the EPA was allocating
to Minnesota for underground
projects. This has always been
a core focus for Minnesota
and as early as the winter of
1978, MUCA’s leadership was
meeting with the EPA regional
office to lobby for more in-
vestment in clean water and
drinking water projects.”
Early on, one of the main
struggles for the organization
was time. The individuals who
were working to start the or-
ganization were full-time em-
ployees in their companies and MUCA members Steve and Jeanette Hentges (left), MUCA Vice President Gary Zajac
had multiple responsibilities. and MUCA Executive Director DeAnn Stish (right) meet in Washington, D.C., with
What is clear through the im- Representative (D—Minn.) Jim Oberstar (center), Chairman of House Transporation
peccable notes kept from these and Infrastructure Committeee.
early meetings is that these 25
companies involved in the early days of MUCA saw the start as late as 7:30 in the evening after a full day of work.
organization as an extremely valuable tool to accomplish These companies gave a lot of their time and effort to start
a great deal for the industry. Most of the meetings would what has been a strong 30-plus year tradition in Minnesota.

October 2009 | Utility Contractor 23


MUCA outgoing President Phil Lesnar of Northdale Construction passes the gavel to the incoming President Jeff Fye of
Dahn Construction at MUCA’s Annual Meeting last November.

T
oday, MUCA’s 170 members are just as dedicated as both the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry
those founding members. Its members drive as much and Minnesota’s Department of Transportation and Pol-
as three to four hours, one way, to attend a meeting for lution Control Agency to certify for safety and environ-
MUCA, carrying on that early sentiment of sacrifice for the mental programs. MUCA is one of a few groups in the
industry. Housing its operations in Woodbury, Minn., just state with this distinction.
minutes from the Capitol, allows MUCA quick access to the The association publishes an award-winning magazine
legislature while in session. MUCA also hosts board meetings twice a year, as well as a membership directory. It also sends
in alternative locations to accommodate its regionally diverse out electronic weekly updates that provide membership with
Board of Directors. timely updates on legislative, regulatory and membership re-
While member support is strong, these strange economic lated issues. Additionally, MUCA hosts plenty of activities
times have certainly hit MUCA. and meetings to keep its members involved, while having
“Our goal is to continue growing the membership, but in some fun.
this economy, we have to show our value in a short-term way “We host an annual membership meeting each year along
to our existing membership,” says Stish. “Those who are in with a vendor fair and membership meetings,” says Stish.
the industry will see the value of belonging to our association “We also host the largest construction golf tournament in
if we simply focus on what is best for our existing member- the State with a sellout crowd that fills both morning and
ship. We have set very lofty goals to be able to provide more afternoon sessions with capacity sponsorship tents on each
free training to our membership and offer key programming hole. But the Jeff Hanson Memorial Last Ditch Open is by
that they cannot access through any other organization.” far our most successful and well-known event that brings
In terms of membership, MUCA has value in spades. member and non-member interest from the construction
To its members, MUCA offers a variety of incentives industry. We are headed into our 30th anniversary of this
including advertising and free or low-cost training. massive scholarship event.”
MUCA has also established itself as a premier training As the economy has continued to put pressure on the in-
source for the utility industry — it’s acknowledged by dustry, MUCA has had to cut back on family-oriented events

24 Utility Contractor | October 2009


this year. However, it has “Our goal is to continue growing the industry. It focuses on ev-
continued to host an Asso- erything that is important
ciation Day at the Hubert membership, but in this economy, we to its membership.
H. Humphrey Metrodome, “This level of service is
which offers families and have to show our value in a short-term not common any more,”
member company staff the says Stish. “Adhering to
opportunity to purchase way to our existing membership. Those the principles that the or-
discounted tickets to a Min- ganization was founded
nesota Twins baseball game
who are in the industry will see the upon has benefited this
each year. value of belonging to our association if industry and our organi-
“We encourage com- zation as a whole. MUCA
panies to join MUCA as we simply focus on what is best for our will continue to grow in
we are their trade as- both numbers and in how
sociation — not just an existing membership.” we service our members.
organization to join for “Too often associations
social reasons, but busi- – DeAnn Stish, MUCA Executive Director. can become comfortable
ness reasons,” Stish says. in what they do and cease
“Our Association is their single voice on issues fac- to change how they serve their members. We have been
ing the industry on everything from project funding through a number of changes in the past several years and
to regulatory issues and environmental compliance. that has shifted our focus to keep pace with the economic
Without an organization to monitor and communicate pressures we are under.”
on these issues, there is no way one company could Construction is cyclical and MUCA knows that it needs
afford to have a team in house working on all of these to change how it serves its members through these ups and
issues. By joining together, everyone benefits from a downs in order to be successful. For the past 30 years, MUCA
common goal of a strong and productive industry.” has served the industry well and will continue to do so into
Though times are tough, there no doubt that MUCA will the next 30 years and beyond.
weather the economic storm. MUCA stands out in the Min-
nesota economy because of its long history of serving the Jason Morgan is Associate Editor of Utility Contractor.

October 2009 | Utility Contractor 25


Track
It Out Mighty Tracked
Trenchers Tackle
Utility Installations
By Jason Morgan

I
ts presence is undeniable. Casting an intimidating shadow Sales Representative for Tesmec, a manufacturer based in Texas
over the jobsite, the tracked trencher hungers for produc- that offers a wide variety of tracked trenchers. “The material that is
tivity, as it chews up earth and rock. You’re likely to find removed from the trench can often be used for select fill without
these ditch-digging beasts on utility, pipeline, mining and running it through a crusher. In some instances, a tracked trencher
wind farm installation jobsites, but to pigeon-hole the tracked also eliminates the need to blast therefore eliminating the danger
trencher would be folly. and expense associated with explosives.”
“Track trenchers can be used in most any application,” says Ja- In the current cost-cutting environment, you might be able
son Zylstra, Solutions Specialist, Utility Products for Vermeer, a to save on job costs using a tracked trencher. Depending on
Pella, Iowa-based manufacturer of tracked trenchers. “[The jobs] the application, the calculator can determine the cost per foot
can range from on-grade sewer to cross country pipeline. Unless of a tracked trencher compared with an excavator, or multiple
you are working in congested cities or established neighborhoods, excavators if the job calls for it.
where open cutting is not an option, trenching is a cost-effective “The increased average daily trencher production in rock
way to put in the product, be it water, gas, sewer or footings.” or dirt vs. an excavator is an advantage,” says Kelly J. Ralls,
Though it may seem like an excavator is a more common sight Trench-Tech International’s Vice President of Sales. “An exca-
on a utility installation jobsite, the tracked trencher offers many vator is better for loading and unloading pipe from truck to
benefits compared with its boom-arm digging brethren. For ex- projects, and for safety precautions, exposing existing lines and
ample, a trencher only excavates the amount of ditch determined pothole ditch, before a trencher begins working. But a trencher
by the depth and width of the cutters. You are not over excavating can work in a narrow right of way, because there is no swing
with a trencher like you do with an excavator. In some applica- movement in the trenchers operation. And it tends to stay on
tions, you are able to re-use the spoil as pipe bedding. If you use grade better while providing a more consistent square-bottom
an excavator, you typically have to bring in a foreign material to ditch for back fill and the laying of the pipe.”
back fill with. In today’s market, any potential cost savings means

T
more money in your pocket. racked trenchers are commonly categorized by
“Tracked trenchers can offer faster excavating cycles, from weight and engine horsepower. For larger installa-
trench bottom to spoil pile for more controllable results, less back- tions, tracked trenchers typically range from 220 to
filling and reduced project completion times,” says Kris Phillips, 900 hp, with digging depths up to 24 ft and widths up to 48 in.
26 Utility Contractor | October 2009
The most common manufacturers are Vermeer, Tesmec, The ever important A/C and heat are offered in the operator’s
Trench-Tech and Trencor. Of course, there are miniature station by most manufacturers, and the cabin is pressurized
versions of tracked trenchers that start around 42 hp and in order to reduce air contamination and enhance air quality.
have cutting widths starting around 5 in. The method of Manufacturers, like both Tesmec and Vermeer, have made great
trenching can also be a categorizing factor. The most typical strides to reduce the noise and vibrations that are felt and heard
being chainsaw, rocksaw, bucket or drum cutter trenching. by the operator, which is important when you are putting in
As the name would suggest, the undercarriage is a major those long hours.
component of the tracked trencher. “The main purpose of Your machine keeps you comfy and gets the job done, so be
the undercarriage is to provide a solid and stable platform to sure to return the favor when it comes to daily and long-term
work from,” says Phillips. “The tracked undercarriage pro- service checks. While it’s always important to check your owner’s
vides that solid base that would be impossible to get from a manual for the machine’s exact maintenance schedule, the ba-
wheeled undercarriage. Tesmec does offer a tilt undercarriage sics typically include monitoring the air filter monitoring system,
on several of its models to maintain a vertical wall while op- servicing the grease points on the machine and monitoring the
erating on a slope.” tension of the digging chain and undercarriage track chain.
For many manufacturers, tracked trencher undercarriage “As with any heavy machinery, daily maintenance is the key to
manufacturing is an important focus. Vermeer, for example, the lifespan that you will get out of your equipment,” says Phil-
builds the complete undercarriage to use CAT-spec track chains lips. “The machine must always be thoroughly greased and all
for its line of track-mounted trenchers. The benefit to building fluid levels maintained. In addition, trenchers must be checked
them in house is that Vermeer is able to build them more robust daily for any loose bolts or hardware due to the environment in
to accommodate the difference in machine models, says Tony which they work.”
Bokhoven, Solutions Specialist — Tracks for Vermeer. Each mod- After all, when you invest from $400,000 to upwards of $1.7
el’s undercarriage is specifically engineered and designed with a million into a tracked trencher and rely on it day in and day out,
certain weight machine and application in mind. you want to make sure that it keeps pulling its weight. To dig
One of the most innovative track designs in the past few into the trencher market and find the right trencher for you is
years has been Vermeer’s quad track system. Available on its a matter of balancing your needs with your budget and figuring
75- to 125-hp class of trenchers, the system offers great flota- out the best long-term solution for your outfit.
tion and side hill stability, compared with rubber tire machines.
The quad track system also has relatively no breakover point, Jason Morgan is Associate Editor of Utility Contractor.
according to Vermeer. Compared with dual track trenchers, the
quad track system keeps full power to the ground at all times. In the current cost-cutting environment, you might be able to
Innovations don’t stop at the undercarriage. The most recent save on job costs using a tracked trencher. Tracked trenchers
technology developments have been in the grade control field — can offer faster excavating cycles, from trench bottom to spoil
pile for more controllable results, less backfilling and quicker
both in GPS machine control grading and 2D grading systems (la-
project completion times, compared with excavators.
ser and sonic). Though laser and sonic systems have been around
since the 1970s, laser, sonic and GPS grade control systems are
becoming commonplace on jobsites to control and monitor the
depth of the digging chain.
Laser systems are able to dial in a grade and have it projected
by the laser in a 360-degree dome light stream that the machine
sensors can pick up, and sonic systems use sonic sensors to
sense the ground and allow machines to work in both vertical
and horizontal grades. GPS systems, on the other hand, utilize
triangulated points from the global positioning system satellites
to create a 3D mock-up of the jobsite to control the grade.
“We typically see Topcon or Tremble brand units [installed
on machines],” says Zylstra. “They are used for grade and depth
control in situations where you are installing on-grade sewer
and cutting flat floors for mining applications.”
Beyond technological jobsite advances, the tracked trencher’s
churning chain is a modern construction marvel. The teeth that
cut into the ground are changeable to match the soil you’re dig-
ging in. In dirt, most chains are equipped with cup cutters, while
a conical bit, with tungsten carbide inserts, are used for rock ap-
plications. There is also a steel cutter with impregnated carbide
hard facing on the outside to reduce wear. Depending on the
application, there are different sizes available.
Long hours spent cutting into the ground can be taxing on
both you and your machine. These days, manufacturers are tak-
ing the time to make sure that the cab is nice and comfortable.
October 2009 | Utility Contractor 27
INSIDE WASHINGTON

Timing Is Everything in
Highway Debate
By Eben Wyman

I
n a “normal” year, when the huge federal surface trans- short-range-radio-frequency antenna in vehicles to track
portation reauthorization program (aka “the highway how far drivers are traveling. While the general idea is
bill”) is up for reauthorization, it is a high-profile is- favored by some, there are currently more concerns than
sue that warrants significant media attention, as well support. Tracking when and where American citizens are
as fierce debate among lawmakers looking to protect their going will doubtless spark “Big Brother” controversy, since
share of federal dollars for road, bridge and highway im- many Americans would resent the idea of the government
provements. However, This year — when America is fighting tracking information about where and when they travel.
two wars, attempting to recover from the worst economic Additionally, there would be scores of policy issues with
climate in decades and attempting to overhaul the nation’s which Congress would have to grapple. That said, consid-
entire health care system — it seems that the pressure to ering the tremendous needs facing our highway infrastruc-
move highway legislation has lost some steam. This is de- ture and the large number of jobs that are created with
spite the fact that the unemployment rate in the construc- funding transportation projects, it is clear that these are
tion industry exceeded 21 percent only months ago and the issues that must be debated, and sooner rather than later.
Highway Trust Fund (HTF) is facing bankruptcy. Unfortu-
nately, the only real debate on highway reauthorization right Do the Work vs. Kick the Can
now centers on when, not how, to address these growing We weren’t far into the 111th Congress before it became
infrastructure problems. clear that something had to be done to address yet another
HTF shortfall in 2009, with lawmakers estimating in July
Status Quo Not Cutting It that there would be a $5 billion to $7 billion deficit this year.
When Congress finally gets serious about highway reau- Because a similar shortfall in 2008 was addressed through an
thorization, the debate will center on how to pay for future $8-billion transfer from general (tax) revenues, conservatives
projects currently funded by the HTF. Currently, these proj- on the Hill were quick to criticize the concept of another di-
ects are mainly paid for by the 18.4-cent per-gallon “user rect transfer from general revenues, labeling the action a mere
fee” on gasoline. The fact that the gas tax has not been in- “Band-Aid” for a much bigger problem. Almost immediately,
creased since 1993 has inevitably led to the current deficit the White House, Congress and industry drew their battle
facing the HTF. Considering the increase in fuel-efficient ve- lines over the best ways to reauthorize the program, and more
hicles and the fact that people are generally driving less due importantly, when.
to the bad economy, we simply will not be able to count on While gas tax advocates in Congress and in the private sec-
fuel taxes as the only long-term financing solution to our tor maintained that increases in gas and diesel taxes, along
rising transportation needs. with indexing them for inflation, would provide a much
One alternative that will be on the table is the estab- needed boost for the HTF, the White House called the idea
lishment of Vehicle Miles of Travel (VMT) tax. Simply a non-starter almost immediately. The VMT concept was also
put, this involves installing a Global Positioning System considered D.O.A. by Obama officials. At that point neither
(GPS) receiver and antenna, a mileage counter unit and a a gas tax increase nor establishment of a VMT was strongly

34 Utility Contractor | October 2009


INSIDE WASHINGTON

supported by a large group of Considering the tremendous sion were working furiously to
lawmakers. Therefore, the idea develop their own three-month
of moving a six-year, $500-bil- bill. The expectation at press
lion reauthorization bill, as sup-
needs facing our highway time was that if an agreement
ported by longtime infrastruc- was not reached, Plan B would
ture champions such as House infrastructure and the large be the inclusion of a one-month
Transportation and Infrastruc- extension of current HTF fund-
ture committee Chairman Jim number of jobs that are ing in a broader “continuing
Oberstar (D-Minn.), as well resolution,” which keeps fed-
as the TCC, was temporarily created with funding trans- eral programs (whose appro-
forced to take a back seat. priations bills have not passed)
Timing was everything. running after the fiscal year.
The HTF was set to expire at a
portation projects, it is clear
rapidly approaching Sept. 30 Transportation
deadline, and to make mat- that these are issues that Appropriations
ters worse, it became clear that Update
the shortage of available funds must be debated, and All in all, 2009 was a good year
would make the HTF defunct for transportation infrastructure.
even before the date of expira- sooner rather than later. Appropriations funding for the
tion. Therefore debate quickly HTF was $40.7 billion, and

National Utility Contractors Association


turned to what short-term “fix” surface transportation received
would be appropriate. Although all key players agreed that an additional $27.5 billion in “economic stimulus” funding
a fix was needed, as always, the fight was over the money. In provided in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
a race before the annual August recess, lawmakers worked The FY 2010 transportation appropriations bill passed in the
furiously to agree on the short-term fix. In the end, a $7-bil- Senate on September 17, providing $42.5 billion for the fed-
lion transfer from the general fund to the HTF won the day. eral highway program, a 4.4 percent increase over this year’s
With the $7-billion fix taken care of through Septem- level. The bill must now be reconciled with House legislation,
ber, the debate turned to how long the next extension passed earlier this year, which would provide a less generous
using current funding levels should be until a full reau- $41.1 billion in FY 2010.
thorization could be worked out. Advocates looking to NUCA works actively on highway legislation because it is
move a full reauthorization bill wanted as short an exten- estimated that three to five percent of federal highway dollars
sion as possible to exert pressure on Congress to move a end up funding utility location projects (storm drains, traffic
comprehensive bill. The House overwhelmingly passed a signals, dry utility, etc.). Increased funding benefits your bot-
three-month extension. tom line, and that’s what we’re all about.
On Sept. 30 (date of expiration of the last highway bill),
Senate leaders who initially advocated an 18-month exten- Eben Wyman is NUCA Vice President of Government Relations.

October 2009 | Utility Contractor 35


S AF E T Y M A N AG EM EN T

The Ubiquitous Dump Truck


It’s Big and It’s Heavy, But Are You Paying Attention?

By George Kennedy

I
t is said that what is out of sight is out of mind. fication the driver’s license should be verified and an MVR
Unfortunately, the same is often true of what is every- (Driving History Report) check run prior to letting the indi-
where in sight. Take for example the dump truck, which vidual behind the wheel. Take advantage of your insurance
is used in the utility construction industry to transport agent or company if you don’t have the in-house capability
materials to and from jobsites. Because we see them all the to run an MVR check. Your company certainly does not need
time, there is a danger of taking them for granted to the point someone with a fraudulent driver’s license and/or poor driv-
of ignoring the very real hazards they pose. What follows is a ing record behind the wheel of your big, heavy and very ex-
close look at dump truck operations with an eye to ensuring pensive dump truck.
that serious injuries and fatalities don’t result from accidents Drivers should be thoroughly familiar with the company
that could have been prevented. fleet safety rules before hitting the road. It’s also a good practice
In general, if your company owns its trucks, a fleet opera- to require drivers to attend a truck driver’s defensive driving
tions plan should be established. At minimum the plan should course (DDC) such as that offered by the National Safety Coun-
include driver qualification, training, vehicle inspections, cil. It will not only help ensure that a safe driver will be behind
maintenance and safety rules. If trucking operations are sub- the wheel, but also will allow the company to take advantage of
contracted out, then there should be a plan to ensure that the the premium discount offered by many insurance companies if
subcontractors’ trucks are in good condition and operated by a predetermined percentage of company drivers have received
qualified drivers. Failure to do so could result in your company DDC training.
being held liable by OSHA or the courts if an accident occurs.
Elements of Safe Operation
Equipment Maintenance Obviously, there’s more to operating a dump truck than
The place to start is with preventive maintenance. As with just driving it from point A to point B. One of the most
any other piece of equipment, trucks should be inspected hazardous situations associated with dumping a load is
regularly and all defects should be repaired. Prior to opera- truck tip-over due to an unbalanced load. Drivers should be
tion, the driver should always perform a pre-trip inspection trained to recognize such hazards as soft soil conditions, un-
that includes checking lights, turn-signals, mirrors, windshield even surfaces and inadequately compacted fill. They should
wipers, tires, fluid levels, brakes and back-up alarm. All should also avoid surfaces that are sloped to the side such as low
be in good working order before the trucks goes on the road or road shoulders because they can change the truck’s center
moves across the jobsite. of gravity. When spreading dumped material from a moving
In addition to the items checked during pre-trip inspections, truck, the driver should make sure that the entire length of
drivers and mechanics should regularly inspect: the suspen- travel is relatively level.
sion system to ensure that it provides even suspension; pins Trucks should never be parked close to a trench/excavation,
and bushings for wear and lubrication; hydraulic cylinders and even when they are not loaded because the weight of the ve-
hoses for leaks or damage; boxes for damage; and anything else hicle alone is sufficient to cause a cave-in. Vibration caused
that might require routine maintenance. by a truck can also affect trench wall stability. Trucks should
therefore always be loaded and unloaded a safe distance from
Driver Qualification the edge of an excavation.
All dump truck drivers must be qualified (by training/ Drivers should make sure there will be adequate clear-
experience) and have a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). ance from overhead power lines and obstructions, especially
No one who has not been prequalified by the fleet manager when raising the truck bed. They should also check to see
should be permitted to drive a truck. As part of the prequali- that workers are clear of the truck. Additionally, all workers
36 Utility Contractor | October 2009
should be instructed to stay clear of the back and sides of trucks when the load
is dumping.
Before raising the dump bed, the driver should ensure that the tailgate and
dump bed are unlocked. The driver should return to the driver’s seat and
should not stand beside the truck or on the running board when dumping.
Trucks should be separated from other vehicles and equipment during a dump
to ensure that if the truck does tip over it will not cause an injury to another
driver or equipment operator or damage to other equipment.

Traffic Control Inside the Work Site


Two-thirds of the worker fatalities resulting from being struck or run over by
vehicles occurs inside the work zone. Whatever the organized system of traffic
control, it should take dump truck operations into consideration, ensuring that
the trucks flow in, around and back out again according to an established plan.
Because driv-
ers of dump
trucks cannot
see who or

National Utility Contractors Association


what is behind
them when
backing up,
eliminating the
need for them
to back up
will make the
jobsite safer.
That said, un- One of the most hazardous situations associated with dump-
like a flat-bed ing a load is truck tip-over. Drivers should be trained to avoid
truck deliver- surfaces that are sloped to the side such as low road shoul-
ing a load of ders because they can change the truck’s center of gravity.
pipe that will
be unloaded by a crane, excavator or forklift, dump trucks must often back up
to dump a load clear of the roadway. When it is necessary for a dump truck to
move in reverse, an audible back-up warning device must be used or a spotter
stationed to guide the driver and ensure that workers do not walk behind the
truck when it is backing up.
All workers inside the work zone who could be exposed to vehicle or equipment
traffic should be required to wear high visibility (lime green or orange) clothing
so that drivers will be able to see them. The clothing does not necessarily have to
include the reflective stripes that are required of workers exposed to traffic on the
road. Check local and state requirements. The important thing is that the workers’
clothing is easy to spot by the driver and that the worker does not blend in with
the surroundings. All workers should also be instructed to make eye contact with
the driver before approaching the truck.
Based on the foregoing, is it time for you to take a closer look at your dump
truck operations in the interests of providing a safer workplace? If so, remem-
ber the basics I’ve outlined — equipment maintenance, driver qualification,
elements of safe operation and traffic control. Whether we’re talking about
your trucks or those of a subcontractor, you are ultimately responsible for
ensuring that injuries and fatalities don’t result from accidents that could have
been prevented.

George Kennedy is NUCA Vice President of Safety.


October 2009 | Utility Contractor 37
NU CA N EWS

It’s Full Speed Ahead for NUCA’S New Colorado Chapter


The newly chartered NUCA of Colorado chapter is fired ately. The resulting planning documents will help guide
up, thanks to its successful strategic planning retreat held NUCA of Colorado leaders in the coming year, according
August 21. The chapter’s newly adopted vision says it all: to Retreat Facilitators Jeff Moore and Jason Miner of Maxim
“Be the best association for utility construction in Colora- Consulting, Denver.
do.” Joining chapter leaders at the retreat was NUCA Presi- Since its incorporation earlier this year, NUCA of Colorado
dent Lyle Schellenberg, who shared his chapter development has already formed eight committees reporting to its Board
experiences from starting NUCA of Oregon and Southwest of Directors. More than 80 people gathered August 20 in
Washington 12 years ago. Centennial for the chapter’s second membership event, ac-
At the retreat, chapter leaders also adopted a new mission: cording to NUCA of Colorado President Jeff Rumer. Visit the
“Grow membership by providing best-in-class resources, Colorado chapter’s Web site at www.nucacolorado.com, or con-
as measured by the satisfaction of our membership.” To ac- tact the chapter’s Executive Director Kenneth Sommer, who
complish this mission, retreat participants identified major directs NUCA’s Chapter-in-Development program, at (703)
goals and developed action plans to implement immedi- 797-8219 or via e-mail at colorado@nuca.com.

UUCF Foundation Announces Scholarship Winners


During the Underground Utility Mark “Tommy” McCabe, son of Mark of Donald
Contractors of Florida (UUCF) 2009 and Kim McCabe (C & M Road Build- Wynn (Florida
Annual Convention (July 23-26), the ers Inc.); Avery Spofford, daughter of Roads Materi-
chapter’s Andrew Scott Johnson Memo- George Spofford (Glenn Rasmussen als LLC). Since
rial Scholarship Foundation announced Fogarty & Hooker P.A.); Steven San- its inception
the winners of its 2009 scholarships. chez, son of Rosa Sanchez (Johnson- in 2000, the
The recipient of the $7,500 scholarship Davis Inc.); Megan Unger*, daughter Foundation
went to Sarah Cannon* (pictured), of Thomas Unger (Florida Roads Con- has award-
daughter of Michael Cannon of Reyn- tracting Inc.); Benjamin Burgess (A. J. ed a total of
olds Inliner LLC. Additional scholar- Johns Inc.); Ashleigh Elizabeth Ciam- $155,500 in Sarah Cannon
ships of varying amounts were awarded briello, daughter of Paul Ciambriello scholarships.
to: Benjamin Hurst, son of Tim Hurst (Guignard Co.); Christopher Todd, son *Also received 2009 NUCA Foun-
(APAC Southeast Inc.); Yang Ge, son of of David Todd (Florida Roads Con- dation for Education and Research
Helen He (England Thims & Miller); tracting Inc.) and Austin Wynn, son Scholarships.

38 Utility Contractor | October 2009


NU C A NEWS

NUCA of Indiana Holds


Golf Outing
NUCA of Indiana held its second an-
nual Golf Outing at the Golf Club of In-
diana on September 10. At the dinner
following the event, participants had
the opportunity to hear NUCA President
Lyle Schellenberg talk about what is cur-
rently going on at the national level.
After dinner, Executive Director Chris
Price presented the golf awards. The
First Place Team and Closest to the Pin
Awards went to MacAllister Machinery,
which was represented by Greg Henry,
Drew Kissel, Dave Clark and Pat Riley.
The Longest Drive and Longest Putt
Awards went to Doug Denney (Atlas Ex-
cavating) and Kip Bancroft (Holt Equip-
ment) respectively. Sponsors of the event

National Utility Contractors Association


included: U.S. Pipe, North American
Pipe, Blood Hound Inc., Corbitt & Sons
Construction Co. Inc., Atlas Daylight-
ing, Indiana 811, Tramco Inc., Frakes Visiting NUCA President Lyle Schellenberg (Armadillo Underground) (l) com-
Engineering, MacAllister Machinery, pleted the golf team that included NUCA of Indiana ED Chris Price,
Rudd Equipment Co., Brandeis Machin- Kip Bancroft (Holt Equipment) and NUCA Immediate Past President
ery and Reynolds Inc. Terry Dillon (Atlas Daylighting).

NEW MEMBERS R & D Enterprise William Anthony Sentry Barricades Inc.


Contractors Inc. Excavating John Mabbitt
CONTRACTORS Rose Stockslager Anthony Raposo 1620 George Jenkins Blvd.
5436 Sunset Pike 3666 Quaker Ln. Lakeland, FL 33815
Badger Daylighting Chambersburg, PA 17202 North Kingstown, RI 02852 Work: (863) 682-7098
Hydrovac Excavation Work: (717) 257-1385 Work: (401) 294-2320 Fax: (863) 680-9901
David Oberg Fax: (717) 267-0491 Fax: (401) 294-2391 jmabbitt.sentrybarricades@
4733 Showdown Dr. roserand@pa.net tony@waexcavating.com verizon.net
North Las Vegas, NV 89031 www.williamanthonyexca-
Work: (702) 395-7211 Subterrain vating.com Streamline
Fax: (702) 396-3176 Technologies Inc. Environmental Inc.
badgervegasnv@gmail.com Trayci Wells ASSOCIATES Lee Ford
www.badgerinc.com 909 10th St. W. 1821 Sahlman Dr.
Palmetto, FL 34421 Enterprise Fleet Tampa, FL 33605
Garco Industries Work: (941) 721-3446 Management, A Div. of Work: (813) 258-5561
Blanca Garza Fax: (941) 722-3447 ERAC Fax: (813) 258-4257
P.O. Box 2843 trayci@subterrainfl.com Karole Fitzgerald lee@streamlineenv.com
McAllen, TX 78502 6800 N. Dale Mabry Hwy. www.streamlineenv.com
Work: (956) 783-1695 #170
Fax: (956) 781-3990 Tampa, FL 33614
customerservice@garcoin- Work: (813) 885-5636
dustries.com Fax: (813) 884-3247
www.garcoindustries.com karole.f.fitzgerald@erac.com

October 2009 | Utility Contractor 39


IN D U S T R Y C A L EN DA R

November 2009 December 2009

5 — GUCA Fall Quarterly Meeting & Trade Show, TBA — UCA of South Florida Holiday Party & Officer
The West in Buckhead, Atlanta, Ga., Georgia Utility Installation, Maggiano’s, Boca Raton, Fla., Under-
Contractors Association, (404) 362-9995 ground Contractors Association of South Florida,
(954) 575-0110
6 — NUCA of Arizona Fall Golf Tournament,
Wigwam Golf Resort, Litchfield Park, Ariz., NUCA of
2-3 — NUCA Safety Directors Forum, New York
Arizona, (480) 775-3943
New York Hotel, Las Vegas, National Utility Con-
tractors Association, (703) 358-9300
6 — SUCA Fourth Annual Clay Shoot, Deer Creek
Sporting Clays, Land O’ Lakes, Fla., Suncoast Utility
Contractors Association, (813) 989-7822 3 — NUCA of New Mexico Membership Meeting
& Recognition Dinner, NUCA of New Mexico, (505)
7 — NUCAORSWW Annual Holiday Auction, 888-0752
The Governor Hotel, Portland, Ore., NUCA of
Oregon & Southwest Washington, (503) 742-8877 3 — Mid Florida UTCA Christmas Party, Mid Florida
Utilities & Transportation Contractors Association,
15-18 — NCUCA Fall Conference and New Board (877) 931-8899
Member Induction Ceremony, Grove ParkInn,
Asheville, N.C., North Carolina Utility Contractors 5 — NUCA of Arizona 2 Wheels 4 Meals Bike Run
Association, (919) 845-7733 (St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance), NUCA of Arizona,
(480) 775-3943
17 — UCAC Person of the Year Dinner Dance &
Scholarship Auction, Wethersfield Country Club, 5 — SWFUCA Annual Christmas Party, Holiday Inn
Wethersfield, Conn., Utility Contractors Association Airport, Fort Myers, Florida, Southwest Florida
of Connecticut, (860) 529-6855 Utility Contractors Association, (239) 939-1952

19 — Broncos Game Night Social, Location TBD in January 2010


Denver area, NUCA of Colorado, (703) 797-8219

20 — UCA of South Florida Scholarship Golf Tour- 10-13 — Utility Construction EXPO ‘10 All To-
nament, Palm Beach National, Lake Worth, Fla., Un- gether Now, Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin
derground Contractors Association of South Florida, Hotel, Lake Buena Vista, Fla., National Utility Con-
(954) 575-0110 tractors Association, (800) 662-6822

30 — Mid Florida UTCA Annual Auction & Barbecue,


Mid Florida Utilities & Transportation Contractors
Association, (877) 931-8899

40 Utility Contractor | October 2009


THE PIPELINE

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October 2009 | Utility Contractor 41


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