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2019 Trenchless Technology Person of the Year: Mike Burkhard

Mike Burkhard Reline America


Trenchless Technology magazine is pleased to announce the recipient of its 2019 Trenchless Technology Person of the Year: Mike Burkhard, who has had a long and distinguished career in the trenchless industry as an advocate and pipe relining visionary who helped to introduce UV cured-in-place pipe (CIPP) to the United States.

Today, Burkhard serves as part-owner of Reline America, a pioneering company he co-founded that has helped bring innovative UV-CIPP technology into the U.S. marketplace.

“The selection of Mike Burkhard is more than deserved but is overdue for a man who has dedicated his professional life to the betterment of underground infrastructure,” says Trenchless Technology editor Jim Rush. “Mike has earned the respect of his peers through his past leadership of NASSCO, as well as his years at the helm at Reline America, which has helped introduce UV CIPP technology to the United States. We lead the congratulations for Mike’s selection as the 2019 Trenchless Technology Person of the Year.”

Burkhard was speechless when notified of his selection. “I’m absolutely stunned,” Burkhard says. “This is an award that has meant so much to the industry for decades. I am honored.”

RELATED: Reline America: Changing the Face of Pipe Relining in North America

Burkhard has had a long career in various capacities within the trenchless technology industry, leaving a lasting impact along the way and continually blazing new paths forward. Today, Burkhard serves as Executive Director of Technology & Business Development of Reline America, a pioneering company that has helped bring UV-CIPP technology into the U.S. marketplace.

Prior to co-founding Reline America, Burkhard served as executive director of NASSCO, where he helped lead the association from the brink of financial dissolvement to a flourishing trade association.

After serving in the Army, Burkhard landed a job at the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) at a time when utilities were beginning to understand the importance of I/I. After working in WSSC’s Research Division under the tutelage of Dr. Al Machis, a civil Engineering Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University, Burkhard was promoted to Rehabilitation Manager where he learned how to approach research from a project management mindset.

Fifteen years at WSSC allowed Burkhard to see first-hand the emerging technologies of the day including pipe bursting, grouting, spray-on products and a variety of lining products. Burkhard developed a pilot research program to validate these technologies and was deeply involved in partnership with the Water Research Council (WRc), which at the time was the research center for all 10 water authorities in England.

Through that partnership, WSSC was able to bring new technologies to the United States. In fact, Burkhard, as rehabilitation manager, was witness to one of the first Insituform installations stateside – in Beltsville, Maryland, on Halloween night in 1979. During his time at WSSC, Burkhard participated in the introduction into the United States of the new technologies of pipe bursting, Danby, Ribloc, Insituform and Inliner.

RELATED: 2016 Trenchless Technology Person of the Year — Lynn Osborn

Prior to leaving the WSSC in 1989, Burkhard was WSSC’s representative to the 1985 ISTT No Dig Convention in London.

This was the first meeting of the PACP work group in Chambersburg, Pa. Back row: Marilyn Shepard; John Jurgens; Jeff Tinlin; Rod Thornhill; Gerry Muenchmeyer; Lynn Osborn and Greg Anderson Front Row: Phil Wildbore (WRc); Andy Drinkwater (WRc); and Mike Burkhard.

Subsequent to leaving WSSC, Burkhard gained experience in the industry working with U-Liner Systems where he was charged with marketing and patent strategy, and expanded his knowledge base when he decided to branch out on his own as a consultant to companies looking to grow both domestically and internationally, as well as helping companies facing dire financial situations.

In 1999, Burkhard was asked by NASSCO president Jerry Botts to help the organization recover from financial difficulties. Seeing that a healthy organization needs competing companies and products, partnered with municipalities, privatized consultants, engineers and manufacturers to join together as one united entity, Burkhard wrote new by-laws to include not only contractors but municipalities, consulting engineers and manufacturers, helping lead NASSCO from the brink of bankruptcy to the vibrant organization that survives today.

RELATED: NASSCO Marks Its 40th Anniversary

Under his leadership, NASSCO launched PACP – which has become the industry standard for condition assessment defect coding, as well as spinoff certification for manholes, laterals and inspector training. Burkhard also helped NASSCO establish new divisions such as ICGA (International Chemical Grouting Association), IPBA (International Pipe Bursting Association) and the video division for CCTV Manufacturer’ Associates.

Burkhard will be formally recognized for this highly prestigious honor Monday, March 18, at NASTT’s 2019 No-Dig Show Kick-Off Breakfast at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois, just outside of Chicago. He will be presented the award by Trenchless Technology publisher Bernard P. Krzys.

About the Award

The Trenchless Technology Person of the Year has been awarded annually since 1993 to individuals representing significant recent achievement and lifetime achievement, and who have exhibited outstanding leadership in the advancement of trenchless technology. It is determined by a selection committee comprised of industry professionals.

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