GSW Goes Small To Conquer Rock

March 2011, Vol. 66 No. 3

GSW Contracting has found a niche -- and in doing so, has uncovered what most would consider an unlikely approach for directional drilling through rock.

Any contractor who has ever encountered a rock formation during an installation project knows all too well that boring through rock is a time-consuming and often costly process; especially if the right equipment isn’t being used. Further complicating matters is the fact that every rock formation is different. Conquering the hard stuff requires an approach that is effective in each unique formation and often involves changing and experimenting with different rigs, attachments, mud mixtures, etc.

But thanks to the resourcefulness, knowledge and experience of Gregg Wilder and his team of installation experts, GSW Contracting, based in Canton, GA., is utilizing an approach that has helped alleviate much of the guesswork of experimenting with various-sized horizontal directional drill (HDD) rigs and attachments for effectively drilling through rock.

“We don’t have to walk away or get our tails handed to us when it gets tough,” says Wilder who ventured out on his own and started GSW Contracting nearly a decade ago. “As utilities have grown and finding installation routes become more challenging, it [drilling through rock] is one of the last areas where installations are now possible. Often times, there is nowhere else to go. GSW has the specialization in drilling through rock formations that allows us to bid and compete for more jobs. This history and our track record of successes have really made a difference. We’ve grown steadily as a result and it’s all been by word of mouth.”

Small is big
The solution Wilder and his team of rock drilling experts have uncovered flies in the face of the long-held conventional wisdom that bigger is better -- that to win the boring battle against rock it takes a drill with more power than smaller, more economical equipment. According to Wilder, it’s more about the attachment, the methodology and the approach; not the size of the drill. He cites a telecom installation project GSW Contracting recently completed successfully in Pennsylvania to document his contention.