NASSCO Standard Bearers

By David Magill | May 2014, Vol. 69 No. 5
David Magill and wife Angela

In 2016, NASSCO will celebrate its 40th year of setting standards for the assessment and rehabilitation of underground infrastructure.

As we look forward, we also look back to those who have made significant contributions and have impacted the continued acceptance and use of trenchless technologies. This is the first in a series of articles exploring the history of NASSCO through the eyes of industry leaders.

Prior to his passing in January, we had the honor of interviewing David Magill, founder of Avanti International. Here are his comments:

From 1970-1975, I was living in Baton Rouge, LA, and working for a consulting engineering firm that did work on sanitary sewers. We had a project in Hot Springs, AR, that required us to hire a municipal contractor to do CCTV work. We hired Naylor Industries, which was later acquired by Insituform.

In 1975 I finished my MBA and went on to work for the Naylor office in Houston where I was in charge of their municipal division. During that time the division grew from three people to about 80. The federal government helped fund our SSES program to determine if it was more economical to spend money on rehabilitation or accept groundwater.

Jim Witt was my boss at Naylor and he was very active in getting NASSCO started back in 1976 because he saw many inconsistencies at the federal vs. local level when it came to bidding work. For example, workers on a federally-funded project would be paid the “prevailing wage” but no one really knew what that meant. Was it the prevailing wage in Washington, D.C., Kansas or somewhere else? Jim saw the need for standardization, especially as it pertained to job descriptions, wages paid and making sure everyone operated under the same rules.

Jim joined other industry professionals and NASSCO was formed to meet the growing need for standards including how work was conducted, how specs were written and how people were paid. Back then, if a contractor did work, the city really didn’t know what work was done. Contractors had fancy equipment but the owner had no clue what was happening or how to evaluate if the job was done right. The inspector didn’t ask questions – it was a black box. This has been a problem in this industry throughout the years.