March 2017 Vol. 72 No. 3


UCT Rides High In Fort Worth - The Event For The Utility Infrastructure Industry

For the first time, the Underground Construction Technology International Conference & Exhibition (UCT) was held in Fort Worth, TX.

“This location proved to be a great opportunity for UCT,” said Karen Francis, UCT’s conference director. “We welcomed 24 new exhibitors, and especially appreciated the involvement and support from the city. Mayor Pro Tem Dennis Shingleton officially opened the exhibit hall with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Also, John Carman, the city’s water director, joined other municipal and government officials, contractors, engineers and vendors from across the nation for a networking breakfast and to deliver a keynote address.”

Exhibitors agreed on the event’s success. “This is my 13th UCT,” said Steve Hallam, regional sales manager for Madewell Products “and each show is better for us than the previous year. Attendees we saw are decision makers and that’s why we come.” Madewell’s exhibit focused on Mainstay manhole rehabilitation products.

Prime Horizontal, New Iberia, LA, introduced its new MudVis drilling fluid monitoring system at UCT. “It was the first time we displayed it anywhere,” said Christian Randall, technical sales representative. “Being at UCT was great. It was very beneficial to us.”

Jeri Lamerton, marketing manager for Subsite Electronics, Perry, OK, said UCT was important in reaching the company’s goal of increasing brand awareness in the industry.

“We received several quality leads,” she said. “Also, UCT provides an excellent opportunity to network with our customers and competitors.” Subsite markets utility locators and HDD tracking and control systems.

‘Good’ energy

Exhibitor and speaker Richard Levings, director of product management for American Augers/Trencor, West Salem, OH, found that there was “good energy” at the Fort Worth UCT.

“The overall attitude of the people we talked to was more positive than recent years,” he said. “At the educational sessions I attended, there was a good cross section of contractors, technical people and engineers. It was just a really good trade show and a good ‘hit’ for us.” American Augers is a leading manufacturer of auger boring and large horizontal directional drilling (HDD) equipment and large Trencor track trenchers.

Andy Blokker, vice president of operations and chief operating officer of Avertex Utility Solutions, Amaranth, Ontario, Canada, is a UCT regular. Avertex serves several utility markets, including telecommunications, power, water and sewer, railroad utilities and renewable energy.

“I come every year,” said Blokker. “I come for networking and to attend educational sessions about HDD. UCT 2017 was beneficial – I made new contacts and met with others who are in the same type of business, and we discussed several topics that are of common concern.”

“The exhibits,” he continued, “were very helpful providing a look at what’s new that may save some money and speed the effort of finding suppliers.”
John Newell, president of No-Dig Tec Trenchless Technology, a large Dallas pipe bursting contractor, was equally positive.

“Presentations at educational sessions were in-depth and very informative,” he said. “Then I had the opportunity to go to the exhibit floor and see many of the things talked about in the sessions.”

Fort Worth was the first UCT show for Michael Thomas, president of Alltech Directional Drilling Inc., Happy Valley, OR, which is heavily involved in fiber deployment and is experienced in most HDD applications.

“It was a good experience,” he said. “I saw new products and attended several educational sessions. I brought my lead locator to the show and would have liked to bring others, but our workload didn’t permit.”

Another first-timer was Dale Miller, owner of Miller Excavation in Minco, OK. “I saw a lot of things I have heard about that definitely will help in the operation of our business,” he said. While equipped for excavation and conventional boring, most of Miller’s work is with directional drilling. The company operates equipment from 7,000 to 100,000 pounds of pullback.

Brian Dorwart, Bedford, NH, with the underground construction engineering design firm Brierley Associates, experienced UCT 2017 as both a moderator and attendee of educational sessions. “Some were standing room only,” he said. “I also found the exhibit hall was busy. There is a lot going on in Texas in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, Austin and Houston, and I saw heavy attendance of public works personnel from these areas.

“Definitely the right people were here, and Brierley had a good crew at the show. We were very busy and talked to the people we wanted to talk to.

Essential networking

UCT is the only annual industry event that brings together contractors, utility representatives, project owners, consulting engineers, manufacturers and service providers in a business and educational environment. The scope encompasses all underground construction and rehabilitation disciplines, from trenchless to open cut.

UCT is sponsored by Underground Construction, Pipeline & Gas Journal and Pipeline News magazines with the active support of many corporate, association and academic co-sponsors.

“For me, it was a networking event,” said Grady Bell, a UCT veteran. “I saw a lot of old friends, and it also was great to see new things that are available. I came away with several ideas.” Bell has typically attended UCT as a contractor. This year he came as the director of business development for the Wolfcreek Group, a Houston-based private operating group involved in Midstream energy infrastructure.

Multiple networking opportunities included the Exhibit Hall and educational sessions, as well as special events such as the Municipal Breakfast, MVP Lunch honoring 50-year industry veteran Gerhard (Gerry) Muenchmeyer, P.E., and TT Technologies-sponsored Reception. UCT also has become a popular venue for other industry organizations (NASSCO, CUIRE, TTC, UCTA) to schedule training sessions and meetings.

“I think the entire UCT experience this year was very positive,” said Lynn Osborn, owner of LEO Consulting and technical director of NASSCO.
“The Fort Worth venue and fine weather was good for those attending,” he continued. “And when considering the core values that make any conference worthwhile – quality presentations, educational exhibits, networking opportunities and multiple meeting opportunities bringing attendees together from other organizations – UCT got it right in 2017.”

The 2018 UCT Conference will be in New Orleans from Jan. 30 – Feb. 1.

UCT, Karen Francis, (281) 558-6930, ext. 222,,

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