By Oliver Klinger, Publisher
Over 300 attendees traveled to Puerto Rico to attend the Distribution Contractors Association’s 50th Annual Convention held at the El Conquistador Resort & Spa. A tribute to the past 50 years as well as a look toward the future was the theme for the meeting.
Outgoing DCA President Kevin Miller, president of Miller Pipeline Corporation, made it a point to attend as many industry meetings as possible this past year as a representative of DCA. “First of all, I’d like to say that Lisa and I have had the time of our lives representing the DCA this past year. We had the opportunity to meet so many people in this industry while attending the conventions of our sister associations. Almost everyone I’ve talked with seemed to share the same opinion – the future looks very bright for pipeline and gas distribution contractors. The need to replace aging infrastructure and world energy demands should drive this industry to higher levels over the next 10 years. The DCA and its members should do well in this environment.”
Commenting on what sets DCA apart from other associations, he remarked, “Someone once said that an organization is only as good as its people and I think that’s what makes the DCA so special. We’ve seen and heard a lot this week about the good companies and dedicated individuals that founded this association. I am proud to say that fifty years later, this organization is still full of good companies and dedicated individuals.”
“In my opinion, our regular members are the best contractors in the business. We’ve got an outstanding group of associate members that supply us with the tools, equipment and services needed to do our work. We also have an excellent working relationship with organized labor. And on top of all that, we have a talented group of DCA staff members that are more than qualified to take us into the next 50 years.”
2011 Officers And Directors
New officers elected for 2011 are: President: Greg Dahl, vice president, ARB, Inc., Lake Forest, CA; Vice President: Kevin Michels, vice president – Equipment Division, Michels Corporation, Brownsville, WI; Treasurer: Tim Bell, president, Midwestern Contractors, West Chicago, IL; Immediate Past President: Kevin Miller, president, Miller Pipeline Corp., Indianapolis, IN; and Executive Vice President: Rob Darden, DCA, Richardson, TX.
Directors for 2011 are: Grady Bell, vice president of Business Development, Laney Directional Drilling Co., Humble, TX; Jim Brotherton, president and owner, Brotherton Pipeline, Inc., Gold Hill, OR; Tom Clapper, vice president, Business Development, H.L. Chapman Pipeline Construction, Inc., Leander, TX; Ben Nelson, vice president, Gas Distribution Division, Pilchuck Contractors, Inc., Kirkland, WA; Frank Patterson, president, Patterson & Wilder Construction Co., Pelham, AL; Jay Osborn, president, Q3 Contracting, Inc., Little Canada, MN; Past President Representative: Ken Gabrielse, Gabe’s Construction Co., Inc., Sheboygan, WI; Director at Large: Larry Ernst, president, Midwest Underground, Inc., East Moline, IL; Associate Member Director: Gary Lawson, global accounts manager, Ditch Witch, Perry, OK and Alternate Associate Member Director: John Weaver, corporate business manager, John Deere Construction & Forestry Division, Moline, IL.
Executive Vice President Darden delivered his second state of the industry address in which he noted that 2010 was a bumpy year. The annual DCA contractor’s equipment purchasing survey reflects the residual effects of the weak economy, although DCA regular members still spent $279 million in 2010. “I will say though, several contractors I have talked to said they plan to spend significantly more than they indicated on their survey, and that the year has started out much busier than they expected. Another indicator of the effect of the economy on our industry is the man-hours worked. Contractor man-hours were down nearly 10% in 2010. That is better than the 20% drop in 2009, and hopefully an indication that things have turned the corner.”
Quoting an article in “Underground Construction” magazine, Darden noted there are “70 million customers in the U.S. who depend on gas distribution. That accounts for 22% of the total energy consumed in the U.S. last year. Of that, 92% was residential, 7% commercial and 1% large industrial. It is projected that consumption will rise this year and level off in 2012. The increase in consumption as well as new legislative and regulatory changes, such as DIMP, will result in increased opportunities for gas distribution contractors.”
He continued by noting “recent high profile incidents like San Bruno highlighted the need to replace old steel lines with newer PE pipe. Rehabilitation, repair and replacement of the nation’s 1,217,160 miles of distribution mains and 65,514,933 service meters, valves, etc. will total $12 billion in 2011 compared to $11 billion in 2011. At this time, 66% of the gas utility companies have replacement programs in place. While 10% will do this work on their own, 90% will rely on contractors to carry out the bulk of the work.”
Over the past year, DCA successfully transitioned its operations with new Executive Director Rob Darden taking control. “We got a lot accomplished last year and laid the foundation for a great 2011 and years to come. In a year in which you’d think membership would have dropped, it actually went up in both regular and associate membership with a net gain of 7 members (we had net 3 in 2009). We held a very successful Convention in Los Cabos Mexico, Mid-Year Meeting at La Costa in San Diego and the Safety Congress and Fall Meeting in Dallas. And, attendance at these events remained steady.”
A new strategic plan was implemented last year with its mission statement reading: “Quality contractors and associates working together to deliver superior value to the natural gas and the underground utility industry.” Other highlights are to broaden DCA to include non-union members, increase educational offerings and offer a professional development conference (PDC) in the fall. In 2011, membership saw a net increase of 6 regular members (from 52 to 58) and 1 associate member (from 88 to 89). The goal in 2011 is to increase the current member levels to a net gain of five (5) regular members (to 63) and a net five (5) associate members (to 94).
Upcoming events for 2011 include : Safety Congress – April 26 – 28, Gaylord Texan, Dallas TX; Mid-Year Meeting – July 20 – 24, The Woodstock Inn, Woodstock, VT; Fall Meeting and Professional Development Conference – November 1 – 4, Gaylord Texan, Dallas, TX and the 51st Annual Convention – February 3 – 8, 2012, The Fairmont Orchid, Big Island, Hawaii.
DCA Safety Award Winners
At its recent 50th annual convention the Distribution Contractors Association announced the following as annual Arthur T. Everham Safety Award winners for 2010 by manhours worked:
Under 350,000 hours – 1st place: H&H Enterprises, Andover, OH; 2nd place (tie) – H.L. Chapman Pipeline Construction, Leander, TX and Midwestern Contractors, West Chicago, IL.
351,000 to 699,000 hours – 1st place: Q3 Contracting, Inc., Little Canada, MN; 2nd place – KS Energy Services LLC, New Berlin, WI.
Over 700,000 hours – 1st place – (tie) Mears Group, Inc., Rosebush, MI and Michels Corporation, Brownsville, WI; 2nd place – Mastec North America Inc., Shevlin, MN.