Contractor Combines Trenching, HDD To Grow Business

May 2012, Vol. 67 No. 5
Trent Parker, Parker-Stockstill co-owner, and Pete Petersen, Ditch Witch North Carolina.

Parker-Stockstill Construction, Elm City, NC, has carved out a solid niche installing natural gas transmission and distribution lines in central and eastern North Carolina.

“We started the company in 1993 near Ashville with my dad, brother and a partner,” said Trent Parker, co-owner. “Our intent was to concentrate on the gas market, and that’s what we have done ever since. There have been ups and downs, but the gas industry has been very good for us.”

The Parkers bought out their partner, and the family-owned company today is operated by Trent, brother Todd, his son Dustin, and Trent’s son-in-law, Cameron May. Family patriarch Perry Parker passed away in 2010.

Not long after going into business, the company took a three-week job in Elm City, about one hour east of Raleigh, and ultimately the decision was made to relocate the business there.

For most work, Parker-Stockstill works directly for the project owner, usually a gas utility company. A primary client is Piedmont Natural Gas, a gas provider for more than 1 million residential and business customers in North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

On most projects, Parker-Stockstill installs underground pipe and makes all connections. “We do not sub out any part of our work,” said Parker.

Construction methods
To put pipe in the ground, Parker-Stockstill depends on vibratory plowing and horizontal directional drilling equipment. Open-cut construction is minimal.

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“Vibratory plowing is fast, efficient and minimizes restoration because no trench is dug,” said Parker. “Our basic plow is a ‘quad’ model with four independent tracks instead of rubber tires. The quads take it over rough terrain and across landscaped areas minimizing turf damage because the tracks distribute the machine’s weight more evenly than tires.”

The HDPE pipe installed by plowing ranges in diameter from 3/4 to eight-inches. Pipe in diameters to two inches is in 500-foot rolls; larger diameters are in 40-foot joints which are butt fused. Depths of pipe range from two to 5 feet.

Soil conditions in North Carolina vary greatly and can change quickly, said Parker. Much of the work on company projects is in clay, and sand also is common. Production speeds vary with soils.

“In good conditions, we go from 30 to 35 feet a minute,” said Parker. “In hard soils, it will slow down to about 10 feet per minute.”