Tag Archive for 'ICUEE'

Insights and Advice for Equipment Managers in the Pipeline Industry

Andy Baldwin has been the equipment manager for Appalachian Pipeline Contractors in Hendersonville, Tenn., since June 2011. Prior to assuming that role, Baldwin worked in the auto parts industry for nearly 20 years. “My experience in auto parts, having a basic understanding of different types of machinery and their related components, made me a good fit,” Baldwin relates.

Baldwin now manages Appalachian Pipeline’s 500-plus-piece fleet of equipment ranging from trucks, skid steers and excavators to boring machines, pipelayers, sandblasting pots and numerous attachments. Baldwin talked to ICUEE about some of his biggest lessons learned since joining the pipeline industry nearly eight years ago, along with what he thinks it will take to continue succeeding as an equipment manager.

Q: What are some of the biggest pipeline industry trends right now?

We’re seeing a lot of new pipeline construction, as well as the refurbishing of existing lines. We’ve put in a lot of bids on “take-up and relay” projects where we’re removing old 10-inch lines and putting 16-inch lines in their place, or maybe going from a 16 to a 20. In either case, the existing pipe is too small to handle the volume that needs to run through it.

Another thing I’ve seen is that more equipment is available to rent than when I first started in 2011. A great example is the trailer-style vacuum excavator. We don’t operate this type of machine on an everyday basis, so I really can’t justify purchasing one. The challenge has been: Where can I go to rent one? Meeting people from leading manufacturers have been really helpful. Now there are a few vendors out there who have added vacuum excavators to their rental fleets.

Q: What are your biggest lessons learned thus far as an equipment manager?

Technology can be really helpful, but you have to do your homework and make sure you’ll get a return on your investment. For example, we’ve tried a couple of different telematics solutions, primarily for equipment tracking. The issue we’ve always run into is that, because of the specialized work we do, our equipment sometimes sits for longer periods of time. If it’s not being started and operated every day, especially in the colder northern climate, the telematics device seems to put a bit of a draw on the battery. Since our primary focus is productivity and downtime, that’s a concern for us.

Another issue we’ve had with telematics is that a lot of our equipment is older. We aren’t able to capture as much of the machine performance data as we’d like in order to really see the benefit of telematics. That will change over time, of course, as we replace and upgrade elements of our fleet.

Q: Do you have any advice for your fellow equipment managers?

When I first came into this industry, I didn’t know all that much. Plus, I was all by myself; nearly everyone else in the company was out on job sites. I knew what a dozer was and what an excavator was, of course, but I knew I had a lot to learn. That’s why I attended my first ICUEE in 2013. Now the show has grown to include a lot more of what we utilize as a pipeline company. I’m looking forward to the show this year to see what else is new and different and would encourage others to attend as well.

I like to think outside the box. I look at equipment and technology, not just for what it is designed for, but what our company can use it for. For example, we’ve started using pole trailers for hauling pipe on the right-of-way. They are compact but can carry the weight. I think it’s important for equipment managers to really challenge themselves and think creatively.

My other piece of advice is that it’s important to build a long list of resources. That’s another reason I like ICUEE. I’ve been able to meet a lot of people from a lot of companies, some of which I was never even aware of. When I first became an equipment manager eight years ago, I only had a couple of mat companies I dealt with. Now I have six or eight. The more people you know and the more options you have, the better you can be as an equipment manager.

You can see the latest equipment and technology for the utility and construction industries at, Oct. 1-3, 2019 in Louisville, KY. Registration is now open.

About ICUEE:

The biennial ICUEE, International Construction, and Utility Equipment Exposition are known as The Demo Expo for its equipment test drives and interactive product demonstrations.

It is the leading event for utilities and utility and construction contractors seeking comprehensive insights into the latest industry technologies, innovations, and trends focused on electric transmission and distribution, telecom, cable, natural gas, water and wastewater, and vegetation management.

ICUEE owner and producer is Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), the North American-based international trade group representing off-road equipment manufacturers and suppliers – www,aem.org.

Hydra Bed is the “Reel” Deal: ICUEE Exhibitor Spotlight

Since 1983, Hydra Bed has built a reputation of providing rugged hay handling flatbeds to the ranching industry. The company has also seen its agricultural equipment used by a number of utility and municipal customers.

Coming from this ranching and agriculture industry, Hydra Bed had a lot of experience with truck bed equipment and attachments. However, it wasn’t until 2013 when Marty Ferguson, of FS3 Inc, reached out to Hydra Bed officials about making a reel handling flatbed to better serve the utility industry. From there, as they say, the rest was history.

Meeting Utility Customer Needs: Take One

 Ferguson set out to design a bed meant to handle reels while not compromising the everyday functionality of the flatbed. After creating a prototype of what he had in mind proved to be unsatisfactory, Ferguson reached out to Hydra Bed to discuss a potential partnership. Knowing of the company’s success in the ranching industry, Ferguson was confident that he could work with Hydra Bed to create a top of the line reel handling utility product.

When Hydra Bed experienced a spike in demand of their ranching products in 2014, talks of a new utility product were delayed until 2016. Meanwhile, Ferguson had become a Hydra Bed dealer and was demonstrating the ranch version of the Hydra Bed with reel handling attachments to his utility customers. Seeing that the needs of his utility customers went beyond the capability of the ranching version, it was not a perfect fit.

As the ranching version of the Hydra Bed continued to come up short in the utility environment, demand for a new design grew.

Meeting Utility Customer Needs: New Design a Success

In February of 2016, the Hydra Bed product development team met with Ferguson to discuss specific needs and goals of a new utility design. According to Jay Russell of Hydra Bed, “The ag industry has served us very well during our history,” he said. “But there have been numerous discussions about market diversification. This seemed to be a very good fit.” With this in mind, and with the two parties sharing an obvious synergy, Hydra Bed formally partnered with Marty Ferguson and FS3 in 2016 and never looked back.

With the help of FS3, Hydra Bed’s development team designed and created the utility-based Hydra Bed Reel Lift and the Hydra Bed HydraWinder.

Products Enhance Customer Efficiency, Safety

The Reel Lift is an integrated reel transport flatbed that is meant to quickly and safely load and transport conduit or cable without the need for a reel trailer. It is operable by a one-man team and can transport reels weighing up to 5,000 pounds. When commenting on the cost efficiency of the Reel Lift, Russell said, “The crew can reduce costly trips to the jobsite because the truck can now tow equipment trailers loaded with boring rigs, excavators and a wide variety of other essential equipment.”

After releasing this product, Hydra Bed experienced incredible numbers and feedback. Seeing as Hydra Bed has long been known for a culture of solving problems and leading design, they decided to go a step further and apply that philosophy to the need of a safe cable retrieval system, resulting in the creation of the HydraWinder.

The HydraWinder is an attachment for the Reel Lift bed that is a bolt-on option that equips crews to safely and efficiently retrieve or payout cable and conduit from nearly any size reel. The self-stowing, “always ready to work and never in the way” design allows for quick adaptations from reel transport to the winder, controlling cable backlash and substantial efficiency and safety to busy jobsites.

Connecting with Customers at ICUEE-The Demo Expo

Since its introduction into the utility world, Hydra Bed has received and continues to receive phenomenal feedback on their products. Russell confirmed this praise by saying, “Enthusiastic customer response from the utility industry is establishing Hydra Bed as equipment designed to meet and dependably fill a specific need.”

One of Hydra Bed’s customers provided positive feedback saying, “Combining our Reel Lift Hydra Bed with a HydraWinder has eliminated a truck and trailer from the jobsite.” Their presence in the utility world is continually proving to be highly valued, desired and needed per their customers’ reviews, and there does not seem to be an end in sight.

Russell and his team at Hydra Bed are adamant that a part of their success came from the company’s presence at ICUEE 2017. “We cannot say enough about the benefits of going to ICUEE in 2017, we loved it,” he said. Considering that the HydraWinder attachment was not even on the product list in 2017, they are even more excited for this year’s ICUEE. “To say we are excited to go back this year is an understatement,” Russell added.

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.

ICUEE 2017 Exhibit Space Sales Open
The Demo Expo showcases utility construction’s newest products and technologies

PrintExhibit space sales are open for ICUEE 2017, the International Construction and Utility Equipment Exposition. Visit the show website www.icuee.com for details on the space assignment process and deadlines for priority exhibit space selection.

ICUEE 2017 will take place October 3-5, 2017 at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, Kentucky. The biennial exhibition, also known as The Demo Expo, is the largest event for utilities and utility contractors, owned and produced by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM).

“ICUEE is where the utility construction industry meets to see and experience ‘hands-on’ the newest product innovations; exhibitors and attendees cite ICUEE as a high-quality show where they can easily connect with qualified companies,” said Tricia Mallett, show manager.

ICUEE 2017 will feature specialized exhibits pavilions for fleet management and green utilities, Ride & Drive test track for on-road equipment and technologies, and indoor Demo Stage complementing extensive in-booth product demos outdoors and indoors.

As a value-added service, ICUEE provides exhibitors with free electronic and print marketing materials to help reach customers and prospects and increase booth traffic. A variety of sponsorship and other marketing opportunities, including customized options, are also available.

What the Industry Is Saying

AEM exhibitions are industry-run with a focus on superior customer service and event technology that results in measureable ROI and a positive show experience.

A sampling from attendee and exhibitor surveys from the last ICUEE:

Exhibitors:

  • “ICUEE has always been a good show for us. Very good customer and potential customer base. The show is very well run.”
  • “Our company is new to this industry, but we were able to make some strong leads and contacts to help us in the future.”

Attendees:

  • “As a first-time attendee, I found the show was very well organized. All the (exhibitors) were very helpful in presenting their different products.”
  • “Just being at the show was a success. Being able to interact with new people and get the latest greatest information on equipment and technology.”

Attendees talk buying decisions:

  • “Made final decision on purchase (of equipment from exhibitor).”
  • “Saw several products that are very useful in our line of work … and we are likely to purchase some or all of them.”
  • “It was very beneficial in helping us with purchasing decisions for the upcoming year.”

Visit www.icuee.com for the latest show information on exhibiting and attending.

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About ICUEE – www.icuee.com  
The International Construction and Utility Equipment Exposition (ICUEE), also known as The Demo Expo, is held every two years and focuses on the job needs of utilities and utility contractors in the electric, telecommunications/cable, natural gas, water and wastewater sectors. Attendees can test-drive the latest equipment, watch live demonstrations of new products and technologies, and take advantage of best-practices industry education.

About AEM – www.aem.org
The Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) is the North American-based international trade group providing innovative business development resources to advance the off-road equipment manufacturing industry in the global marketplace. AEM membership comprises more than 850 companies and more than 200 product lines in the agriculture, construction, forestry, mining and utility sectors worldwide. AEM is headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with offices in the world capitals of Washington, D.C.; Ottawa, Canada; and Beijing, China.

ICUEE 2015 a Cornucopia of New Products

Remus  and Mill my best friends, both victims of lymphoma earlier this year.

Remus and Mill my best friends, both victims of lymphoma earlier this year.

By Greg Sitek

ICUEE – International Construction Utility Equipment Exposition is an incredible show because it gives visitors an opportunity to see and “test-drive” equipment. The show started in the “corn fields” of Elburn Illinois. Grew. Moved to the DuPage County Illinois Fair Grounds. Moved to Olathe Kansas. Moved to the abandoned Kansas City Airport. Moved to Louisville Kentucky where it still operates.

It was started because utilities – the phone and electric companies – needed an opportunity to see and test the equipment that they would consider buying in the coming years.

The show grew because it served a purpose and fulfilled the needs of the industries it served. Every show has been progressively better – not the weather, the content. I haven’t missed a one.

This year’s show was doused with rain but it was loaded with new product and in spite of the rain, had a record attendance of more than 18,000+ attendees and hundreds of exhibitors.

Unfortunately I can’t list all of the exhibitors who introduced new or updated products at the show. I personally visited with the people from Caterpillar, Bobcat,

Vermeer, Ditch Witch, JCB, Thunder Creek, TerraMac,Toro, Doosan, Subsite, JCB, Toro, EyeTrax, Altec, Terex, CASE, TEAMCO, IMT, Hyundai, Volvo, Yanmar, Vacuworx, Palfinger and others. It was a great show.

It was a great show because it introduced new products, brought major segments of the industry together, shared industry-relative information and projected a bright future.

In spite of the rain everyone was cheerful and upbeat looking forward to the challenges of the future. Conversations evolved around the “Highway Bill,” other pending legislation and of course the presidential campaigns. One common thread was that virtually everyone was anxious for the race to over because they were tired of all the politics. Another often repeated comment is that the race should be limited to only three or a maximum of six months prior to the election.

Over the next couple of months we will provide you with product information from ICUEE. For now, a recap of ICUEE 2015. It has set a show record as the largest ever with more than 18,000 registered attendees, and surpassing the last show by 13 percent. ICUEE 2015 ran September 29 – October 1, at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, Kentucky.

Registrants came from all 50 states, nine of the 10 Canadian provinces and more than 60 other countries worldwide.

The 2015 show set records for exhibit space and number of exhibitors. More than 950 exhibitors, including more than 250 companies new to the show, took more than 1.2 million net square feet of exhibit space to showcase their latest equipment and product innovations, and conduct numerous live demonstrations and hands-on opportunities.

“This is our most comprehensive ICUEE ever, and there has been tremendous enthusiasm and interaction among attendees and exhibitors from Day One, when the official Kentucky Derby bugler opened the show,” said Show Director Sara Truesdale Mooney.

“Attendees are finding more companies, product innovations and product demos – plus quality networking with industry experts and peers that really increases the value of the show,” said Mooney.

ICUEE is also known as The Demo Expo and is the largest event for the utility industry, owned and produced by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM). The show brings together industry professionals to gain comprehensive insights into the latest technologies, innovations and trends affecting their industry.

See you at the next ICUEE.