Archive for the 'Events' Category

Utility Contractor Offers 7 Lessons in Entrepreneurship to Kick Off the New Year

Utility Contractor Offers 7 Lessons in Entrepreneurship
to Kick Off the New Year

 Going from selling directional drill rigs and underground equipment to running your own utility construction business requires a big leap of faith and a lot more. Scott Kandziora shares what he’s learned since he co-founded Milwaukee-based Underground Specialists in 2000.

1. Grab onto new utility technology 
Kandziora sold for Ditch Witch for five years out of college. Self-contained directional drilling equipment had just begun to transform the boring industry. “I grabbed on to the new technology because it gave me credibility with veteran customers,” says Kandziora. He trained crews on the rigs that he sold and saw a lot of people were not doing it right. He saw an opportunity to make money by doing things the right way.

2. Find a partner
Kandziora convinced Jerry Peterson, a former Ditch Witch principal, to go into business with him. Peterson had the industry contacts in Wisconsin and the funds needed for the start-up. “He really mentored me,” says Kandziora. The two worked together until Peterson retired in 2004 and Kandziora bought his share of the business.

3. Diversify your services
When Underground Specialists first launched, installing fiber optic cable for telephone companies was the primary source of income. By 2002, that market had dried up. “It forced us to go into the sewer and water market, where there was a lot more to learn about drilling,” says Kandziora.

When the government began subsidizing geothermal systems in the late 2000s, Underground Specialists pursued that market. They gradually added electrical and vacuum truck work to the mix.

In the last five years, the company expanded work in electrical, adding additional equipment and crew members to complete parking lot bases. “Diversification helps boost your sales,” he says. “When one market is down, another tends to perform well.”

4. Get utility crews invested in the business
Before Kandziora owned his own company he witnessed a lot of utility construction workers who just didn’t care about their work. “I never wanted to hear that from my employees,” he says. His solution was to create a profit-sharing system that allows employees to reap the benefits that come from working above and beyond on the job to help the company be profitable. “It promotes the attitude I want,” he says. When the company was too small to be able to provide health insurance for employees, he provided additional pay as compensation.

In today’s tight labor market, Kandziora is more inclined to hire less experienced workers and train them. “They don’t come with problems or bad habits learned from other contractors,” says Kandziora. Among his crew are a former landscaper, truck driver, roofer and a machine hand that are now all underground operators. Three supervisors are responsible for training the new hires on the drill rigs.

5. Be self-motivated
“I see a lot of small business owners sitting at home and waiting for the work to come,” says Kandziora. “I don’t think you can do that in this market. You have to be prepared to work long hours.” Kandziora believes it’s important to complete every bidding opportunity. “It’s easy to drop the ball and say, I’ll bid the next one.”

6. Recognize when you need to let go of the reins
Expanding from one crew to two crews in 2017 was a huge step for Kandziora’s business. “As a new business owner, it took me a long time to let go of the reins, to not be on every job site, controlling every aspect of it. It’s very difficult to let go and trust guys to keep the good name that you have been building. I finally realized that if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be able to sell the company when I wanted to retire,” says Kandziora. Finding and keeping good employees becomes even more important when you grow.

7. Stay up-to-date on the latest products and technology
Kandziora recognizes the importance of staying up-to-date on technology but admits with a growing company, it’s difficult to find time for reading. “Attending ICUEE is my opportunity to catch up on what’s new and what’s out there and it gives the guys a team-building experience,” he says. The entire team is included because each person has their own ideas of what might help on their projects. At the next ICUEE show, he will be paying special attention to vacuum trucks, drill rig electronics, drill rig innovations, and trucks.

“At ICUEE 90 percent of the equipment will directly help us on our sites. The fact that we can get on the machine is a huge benefit. It’s different from any other show we go to.”

Save the date for ICUEE, The Demo Expo for the Construction and Utility Industries, Oct. 1-3, 2019, Louisville, KY. To get the latest information about the show, sign up for show alerts.

The American Rental Association unveils new brand identity

A new day, a new brand … Modern. Relatable. Collaborative.

 

For the first time in more than 40 years, The American Rental Association (ARA) proudly unveils a new brand identity to reflect the evolution of the equipment and event rental industry. The move is part of an extensive branding initiative designed to carry the association forward in better serving its members and representing a community of equipment and event rental professionals.

“In order to effectively support this ever-changing and growing industry, we knew we needed to modernize our brand and our communications. As more second-, third- and fourth-generation owners get involved and the large national companies expand, it was necessary for us to evaluate the association’s role and determine how we can best support the industry. This is one step toward enhancing our relevance and value to all who are part of this unique rental community,” says Tony Conant, ARA CEO.

In 2017, the ARA board of directors approved the formation of the ARA Brand Committee to guide the association through a rebranding process. Committee members represented all three segments of the equipment and event rental industry. The goal was to create a cohesive family of brand marks that would work and read well in all facets of communications, represent the entire rental industry and speak to the values of our young professionals and future leaders of the association.

The rebranding process also led to a new positioning statement for the association: ‘Advancing the equipment and event rental community’. “Our previous identity recognized the members who specialize in equipment rental, but it didn’t specifically speak to those in the party and event segment,” says Conant. “Furthermore, the term ‘community’ is an accurate reflection of who we are as rental professionals and how we operate, like a community of helpful, like-minded people”

All facets of the association’s identity were evaluated during the rebranding process. Updates include new logo marks for ARA Insurance, ARA Foundation, Rental Management and the industry’s annual trade show and convention. During the research, it was discovered that the name ‘The Rental Show’ did not have brand equity and that ARA members didn’t feel that the show was closely aligned with the association. Effective with the rebrand, the new name and accompanying logo for the industry’s premier event is The ARA Show.

The new ARA brand mark reflects a modern and approachable look in terms of color, typeface, and design while paying homage to the previous logo. “We’re focused on continuing the development of the association with a brand update that builds on our rich history of being a unique platform where rental professionals can learn, share ideas and give back to our industry,” says Conant.

About ARA: (www.ARArental.org) The American Rental Association, Moline, Ill., is an international trade association for owners of equipment rental businesses and the manufacturers and suppliers of construction/industrial, general tool and party/event rental equipment. ARA members, which include more than 10,000 rental businesses and more than 1,000 manufacturers and suppliers, are located in every U.S. state, every Canadian province and more than 30 countries worldwide. Founded in 1955, ARA is the source for information, advocacy, education, networking and marketplace opportunities for the equipment and event rental industry throughout the world.

Are You Tuned In? CONEXPO-CON/AGG Radio Podcasts Top 110,000 Downloads

Are You Tuned In?
CONEXPO-CON/AGG Radio Podcasts Top 110,000 Downloads
Listen to Learn the Latest Construction Trends & Technologies

 Interest in staying ahead of the latest construction industry trends and technologies has propelled CONEXPO-CON/AGG Radio podcast downloads to more than 110,000 since its launch prior to the 2017 exposition.

With an average of 1,200 downloads per episode, the CONEXPO-CON/AGG Radio podcast is in the top 25 percent of all podcasts, according to Libsyn podcast hosting service. Downloads have come from 184 countries.

CONEXPO-CON/AGG Radio podcasts feature discussions with world-class experts exploring innovations in the construction industry and the opportunities they create.

Topics cover construction, technology, occupational health and safety, regulations, and education, with tips and trends to help construction professionals optimize their businesses and job sites. Guests include original-equipment manufacturers (OEMs), tech companies, academia and leading industry organizations.

CONEXPO-CON/AGG Radio is brought to you by Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM).

“Our audience has grown rapidly, and reaching over 110,000 downloads reinforces how much interest there is in the construction technology space and in exploring innovations that will change the industry in the next 20 years,” said Nicole Hallada, AEM vice president marketing, and communications. “I’m excited at the opportunity this medium brings for busy professionals to conveniently access cutting-edge information that helps them succeed.”

CONEXPO-CON/AGG Radio host is Peggy Smedley, an internationally known and award-winning author, radio/TV host, and speaker who focuses on educating businesses and consumers on the latest technological advances that are shaping our everyday lives.

“I’m a firm advocate in all things construction technology and the response to our interviews have been phenomenal; people want that reassurance that they’re headed in the right direction and as the host of CONEXPO-CON/AGG Radio, I believe it’s doing just that,” said Smedley.

CONEXPO-CON/AGG Radio currently airs two new episodes each month. Listeners can choose episodes via the CONEXPO-CON/AGG website or through their mobile devices (apps include iTunes, iHeartRadio, Stitcher, Spotify and Google Play).

CONEXPO-CON/AGG Radio is complemented by AEM’s CONEXPO-CON/AGG 365 industry-trends articles.

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CONEXPO-CON/AGG is the international gathering place every three years for the construction industries, spotlighting the latest technologies, products and best practices. The next show is set for March 10-14, 2020 in Las Vegas USA.

AEM is the Milwaukee-based international trade group representing the off-road equipment manufacturing industry. AEM’s world-class exhibitions include CONEXPO-CON/AGG and ICUEE-The Demo Expo.

Third Annual Drone Focus Conference Held in Fargo, ND

 

On May 31, drone users, UAS enthusiasts, and those brand-new to the industry gathered in Fargo, ND for the third-annual Drone Focus Conference. The two-day event brought together hobbyists and professionals to learn, share ideas, and connect.

Agricultural Impact
RDO Equipment Co. welcomed two speakers to Drone Focus, Jason Barton of Agribotix and Nathan Stein of senseFly. Both spoke about UAS in agriculture, with Jason discussing opportunities of implementing precision ag technology, drones included, but also the challenge of technology adaption by farmers.

Nate Dorsey, Agronomist, added insight to Jason’s message, “We find, while most farmers know and use the basics, the majority aren’t aware how capable their machines really are and how much functionality they have. We’re trying to help our customers understand all the technology offered.”

In his presentation, Nathan [Stein] touched on the effects of UAS technology on agronomy, saying, “Agronomy and the way plants grow isn’t going to change. But by fusing agronomy with the information we’re gathering from drones, that’s when good decisions can be made.”

Nate [Dorsey] agreed, explaining the data is key in detecting problems early. “We provide customers, and the agronomists they work with, the data to help make decisions that can prevent problems and yield loss,” he said.

Going Beyond Drones
Jason and Nathan joined a lineup of notable speakers that included U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Elaine Chao, U.S. Senator (R-ND) John Hoeven, and North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum.

All three leaders had a similar message in the rapid evolution of technology and the industry, and that the future of autonomy is headed beyond drones.

“Autonomous vehicles are coming, faster than the general public understands,” Governor Burgum said. He continued, speaking at length to the power autonomous vehicles would have on the way we design cities and infrastructure, and eliminate one of our cities’ biggest transportation-related headaches – parking.

Secretary Chao discussed the Trump administration’s plans to increase airspace capacity, something that will be needed in the very near future.

“By 2020 the nation’s airspace is estimated to handle 1 billion passengers every year,” she said. The goal of the proposal is to handle this increased capacity, while ensuring safety and timeliness for all travelers.

She also recognized the growth in autonomous vehicles on both land and in the air, saying, “We need the smartest infrastructure possible for manned and unmanned vehicles to share air and road space.”

Senator Hoeven continued to build on the message he delivered at last year’s Drone Focus Conference: North Dakota, particularly Fargo, is a leader in this industry and must continue to be one. Citing all the “firsts” North Dakota has achieved in the industry, he encouraged Fargo to continue its leadership by saying, “Our next ‘new first’ – lets develop it here, right in the Red River Valley.”

Swarming
Bill Edmonson, UAV Product Specialist in Billings, hosted a workshop that demonstrated opportunities with swarming – operating more than one drone simultaneously. This was important message for Drone Focus attendees, who, throughout the event, heard about several areas of opportunity for swarming in areas like agriculture, pipeline, and search and rescue missions.

Swarming offers major advantages, with two, three, or even ten drones working together able to cover more area, and cover it faster, than one. Bill highlighted the RDO Equipment Co. team’s experience in swarming from an event last October – a fully-coordinated, planned mission of ten senseFly eBee drones flying simultaneously.

Continuously Evolving

The first Drone Focus Conference was all about possibilities, while last year presenters began sharing initial experiences. This year, the industry’s maturity was even more evident, with several UAS-specific companies discussing services and expertise, as well as a greater number of seasoned experts sharing their knowledge.

Three of these experts, RDO Equipment Co. customers, participated in a panel discussion. Ryan Otis, Otis Farms and Ryan Rustan, Blattner Energy, are both professionals who have successfully implemented drones into their business, while Joey Schmit of Flight Pros is a provider of UAS technology services.

The panel cited data management as the biggest challenge in the industry. To help manage it and expectations, all agreed that it’s important to first understand the goals of the data, then work back to base a plan on achieving them.

“The info shared by our customers provided great value to attendees,” Kelly Gress, Vice President of the RDO Integrated Controls division, said. “Thank you to Joey, Ryan, and Ryan for taking the time to share their unique insights and experiences with drones in their businesses.”

A final message from the panel was one that came up in other presentations throughout the conference: Drones can’t and won’t ever fully replace traditional methods. They’re a great tool to have in the toolbox but people are still needed to understand them, operate them, and turn the data they produce into actions.

What’s Next
If this year’s event proved one thing it’s that autonomous technology isn’t going away. Drone Focus Conference is already scheduled for 2018; the two-day event will take place May 30 and 31.

For more information on drones for business applications, contact the RDO Integrated Controls team.

Photo credits to: J. Alan Paul Photography and Emerging Prairie

CASE Celebrates Company’s 175th Birthday with Employees, Dignitaries and Case family members

Speakers included U.S. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, and Kaleb Case – the great grandson of company founder J.I. Case.

CASE Construction Equipment celebrated the CASE brand’s 175th birthday with a rally and luncheon attended by 800+ employees in Racine, Wis., as well as local dignitaries, elected officials and a descendant of the Case family.

The company was founded in 1842 in nearby Rochester, Wis. as the Racine Threshing Machine Works Company. It evolved into one of the world’s most iconic manufacturers of construction and agricultural equipment. Speakers included U.S. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, the congressman representing Wisconsin’s 1st congressional district; Richard Tobin, Chief Executive Officer – CNH Industrial; and Kaleb Jerome Case, the great grandson of company founder and Association of Equipment Manufacturers’ Hall of Fame member Jerome Increase (J.I.) Case.

“2017 is the 175th anniversary of Jerome Increase Case’s journey to Racine County and the beginning of his—and our—legacy,” said Tobin. “Not every company gets to celebrate 175 years, and it’s worth taking a moment to recognize that this is a company with significant history and deep roots. To our people in the audience, and our colleagues all around Racine and beyond, I want to say thank you for doing your part to continue this momentum.”

Elected officials in attendance also recognized the pride in craftsmanship exhibited by the plant, and the significance of the milestone.

CASE Celebrates Company’s 175th Birthday with Employees, Dignitaries and Case family members

“I’ve been coming here since 1998, and to travel the countryside, and to travel the world, and to see this equipment all around – it gives us such great pride in what you do,” said Speaker Ryan. “Your reputation as the highest-class producer of the greatest machines that the construction industry and the agriculture industry know – thank you for making us proud and congratulations on this fantastic legacy of 175 years.”

The State of Wisconsin also awarded the company with a special citation recognizing its 175 years in business, presented to the company by a bipartisan coalition of Wisconsin lawmakers from the region: Speaker of the Wisconsin State Assembly Robin Vos, Assembly Democratic Leader Peter Barca, Senator Van Wanggaard and State Representative Cory Mason. UAW Region 4 Director Ron McIlroy and Racine County Executive Jonathan Delagrave also recognized the company – and J.I Case descendant Kaleb Jerome Case brought the event to a roaring close with humorous anecdotes from Case family lore.

“J.I.’s passion was power, speed and durability,” said Case. “J.I.’s love of machines prompted him towards manufacturing. I have a copy of the letter he wrote to his wife Lydia. He had just delivered the last of well under a dozen machines and lamented that he would be out of business – no one would need any machines any more. Wow. He should be here today.”

Kaleb Case greets the assembled crowd in Racine

CASE Construction Equipment sells and supports a full line of construction equipment around the world, including the No. 1 backhoe loaders, excavators, motor graders, wheel loaders, vibratory compaction rollers, crawler dozers, skid steers, compact track loaders and rough-terrain forklifts. Through CASE dealers, customers have access to a true professional partner with world-class equipment and aftermarket support, industry-leading warranties and flexible financing. More information is available at www.CaseCE.com.