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Bore-Tek Overcomes Challenges, Obstacles, Tragedy
Of course, Bore Tek wasn’t the only HDD subcontractor with problems during that time. Inexperienced “cowboy” drillers still are remembered for careless, sloppy work that gave the HDD industry a bad name that lingers today.
However, Williams, Thompson, and Lovell never fit the cowboy category. Their goal was to provide quality work, and they worked hard to overcome the early setbacks and improve their drilling operations. With greater understanding of the capabilities of its equipment and more experience in the field, successful installations dramatically increased. The Bore Tek owners began introducing themselves to general contractors, engineering firms and municipalities. The promoted Bore Tek, its services and explained how they could assist on projects that required horizontal directional drilling.
But just as the company had prepared itself for more work, the telecom building boom went bust, and the HDD industry fell into the most severe depression of its relatively short life.
Fortunately, aware that telecommunications projects were declining, Bore Tek shifted their focus to the water and sewer markets before the bottom fell out of the telecom market, leaving hundreds of HDD specialists with no work and without experience in other markets.
“By earning the confidence of several local general contractors, we began to fill a niche market in water and sewer,” Thompson said. ‘”We ventured into multi duct bores, ductile iron bores and grade bores. Realizing the increasing demand for larger bore projects, we purchased a Ditch Witch JT4020 with 40,000 pounds of pullback capability.”
As the water and sewer business grew, in 2005 an even larger JT7020 model was leased, then purchased. The bigger, more powerful drilling unit allowed Bore Tek to bid projects that contractors who had done only telecom work with smaller machines could not do. Those contractors remained mired in the industry’s recession and were unable to purchase or lease larger equipment. As many HDD contractors struggled or went out of business, Bore Tek not only survived, but grew. As the company’s workload continued to increase, Bore Tek ordered a new 80,000 pound pullback Ditch Witch JT8020, the model that had replaced the JT7020 in the Ditch Witch HDD lineup.
By 2007, the Bore Tek partners were ready to take on the biggest project in the company’s history, installing 15,200 linear feet of 24 inch diameter fusible PVC pipe to expand water services to the rural sea island communities of Johns Island, Kiawah Island and Seabrook Island, just south of Charleston.