The definition of innovator is a person or group who introduces something new or does something for the first time. The trenchless industry is full of individuals and companies who fit that definition.
One of those innovators is Steve Waring, P.E., who has been involved in the underground construction space in one form or another since 1972 – long before trenchless was a commonly-used term.
In the early years, he was a laborer working for Gelco Grouting, a company that was an early adopter of sewer pipe services in the Northwest. He stepped away from the industry for a few years to focus on getting his degree in civil engineering and then returned to it after getting that degree in 1977.
Learning the Trenchless Industry
He returned to Gelco, one of the first companies to sign on as a licensee of the Insituform process. This work took him to projects in California, Arizona and across the Northwest. Working with Gelco Services Inc. exposed Waring to many trenchless processes, including sliplining, grouting, pipe bursting, the Paltem process, as well as the Insituform cured-in-place pipe (CIPP) process. Among Waring’s industry milestones was being onsite for the first CIPP lining project in the United States, a demonstration hosted by Underground Surveys in Fresno, California in 1977. His involvement in the industry also included in a term as president of the National Association of Sewer Service Companies (NASSCO).
Through his many years of work and networking, Waring learned many aspects of the construction industry, understood the technologies available and knew where the things could be improved upon to make the industry operate more efficiently. One of those areas was the inversion of larger diameter CIPP tubes. Looking at these pain points with the eye of an engineer, as well as a laborer, took Waring down a path that would lead to the formation of Emagineered Solutions and THE SHOOTER, the first continuous air inversion machine for CIPP installations.
“It was always a dream to be able to do a continuous inversion with a machine,” Waring says. “There were pressure pots, torpedoes and other methods, but they were not continuous and limited in length and diameter.” One of those methods for a continuous inversion is the erection of a water tower. Though it’s an effective way to invert the pipe, the towers are tall, cumbersome, difficult to use around electric wires and less efficient to mention a few of the faults.
In 1997, Waring left Insituform, which bought Gelco Services Inc. in 1994, and ventured out on his own with the help of his wife, Joyce, as a sole proprietorship, called EIC Network. He started to focus on honing a repair process for leaking joints in concrete dams, using a method similar to CIPP. He also began early designs and iterations of THE SHOOTER at the inspiration of Jeff Higbee, an industry colleague and owner of Eckard Brandes Inc. in Hawaii.
“I built a few prototypes and started marketing that,” Waring says. “The standard of practice at the time was a water tower inversion. It was expensive, time consuming and had a set of dangers associated with it.”
By being able to complete a continuous inversion with air, CIPP crews are more mobile, and projects can be completed quickly and at less cost. It just took time for THE SHOOTER to be vetted by the industry.
“I spent a lot of time out in the field with crews helping them get started using THE SHOOTER,” Waring recalls. “We sold it as a tool to help facilitate all CIPP processes.”
What’s in a Name?
In 2002, as both aspects of Waring’s work began to gain steam, he went from a sole proprietorship to creating Emagineered Solutions as a corporation with one arm focused on CYLutions – the waterstop technology for gravity dam structures and the other on THE SHOOTER.
While many new companies in the trenchless industry are iterations of the owner’s name, Waring chose a different route that accurately encapsulates what he and his company do for their respective industries.
“I like to build brands. Your name can be a brand, but I wanted something with longer legs than my name,” he says. “It’s a mashup of engineering and imagination. What we do is imaginative. We see problems and solve them and use engineering to do that.”
The early years of Waring’s work as a sole proprietorship and Emagineered Solutions were based in California. Then in 2004, Waring, an Oregon State University alumnus, was presented an opportunity to purchase property in Redmond, Oregon, and he made the decision to move the company.
In these early years, Waring worked mostly as a one-man operation with the help of fabricators and laborers, as needed. Emagineered Solutions is unique that on one hand, THE SHOOTER and its associated products are pieces of equipment sold to CIPP contractors across the world; CYLutions, on the other hand, is a waterstop system to repair leaking joints in concrete gravity dams, powerhouses and navigation locks that is solely installed by Emagineered Solutions.
Growing in Redmond
In 2010, after more than 10 years as largely a solo operation – with both the CYLutions and THE SHOOTER gaining acceptance in their respective industries – Waring knew it was time to bring on his first full-time employees. Then in 2015, Waring’s son, Grant, joined Emagineered as its president and Ray Irvin joined as vice president and manager of development of THE SHOOTER.
“Emagineered Solutions has experienced measured but steady growth,” says Grant Waring.
In 2016, the company opened its modern, 16,000-sq-ft manufacturing facility in Redmond, Oregon. Today, Emagineered Solutions has 10 employees, with additional staff brought on as projects require.
Though joining Emagineered solutions wasn’t something he initially planned on, Grant was happy to change course to help the family business grow. Like his father, Grant Waring has a degree in civil engineering and spent his early years working in the construction industry. He also has a master’s degree in construction management. “I worked for Kiewit for about 15 years and then around 2014, it became clear that there was need to grow Emagineered Solutions,” the younger Waring states. “Bringing my family to Oregon…working with my father and being part of this intimate team here…was something I couldn’t pass up.”
He adds that while he enjoyed working for Kiewit on large projects and the experience that it gave him, it’s nice to be part of a small company in which he can work with the employees individually. Though he oversees both aspects of Emagineered Solutions, given his past work experience, Grant Waring’s primary focus is on the CYLutions development and projects end of the business.
“Ray [Irvin] has the ability, like no one else I know, in knowing our customers and building relationships with them,” Grant Waring says. “He’s the biggest part of the growth of THE SHOOTER.”
Unlike Steve and Grant, prior to joining Emagineered Solutions, Irvin had zero experience in the construction industry, he was working as the manager of the Grosvenor Lodge in Katmai NP, Alaska, where he was the sole guide and host. Irvin had a friend who did some consulting work for Steve Waring and thought Irvin would be a good fit to help grow Emagineered Solutions from the sales and marketing perspective. That’s how the connection was made.
“Grosvenor is a very remote lodge that had a few different septic and sewer systems over the years that I maintained along with the rest of the plumbing, lift station, grease trap, captive air pressure tanks, water treatment system and well,” Irvin notes. “It was a sort of training ground that I didn’t know then would in a way prepare me for better understanding sewer systems, and the work I came to do with Emagineered and THE SHOOTER.”
Evolving the Brands
With a growing team, the focus is the continuous improvement of CYLutions and THE SHOOTER offerings.
Irvin estimates that there are more than 200 SHOOTERS in the field across the globe with some being more than 15 years old. “THE SHOOTER is built like a tank, built to last,” Irvin says. “Being a small family company, we are proud to say we are made in America, in Redmond, Oregon. It’s important to us and it’s important to our customers.”
Those customers include some of the biggest names completing CIPP projects across North America. All of this success was built on relationships that Steve Waring fostered through active involvement in associations related to the trenchless industry. It’s through this involvement that the Emagineered Solutions team has been able to improve upon, and expand, THE SHOOTER and its capabilities.
“It [industry involvement] was central to the whole strategy,” Steve Waring says. “It was always my strategy to interface with the leaders in the trenchless industry to offer this tool to the industry.”
Irvin adds, “I think this involvement is quite important. Whether it’s through continuing education, technical sessions or networking, these organizations are integral to strengthening the industry as a whole.”
This involvement allows the Engineered Solutions team to see the pain points, and continually improve THE SHOOTER to meet its customers’ needs.
“A big challenge is hiring and retaining a qualified workforce,” says Grant Waring. “The opportunities for and the use of CIPP will continue to grow. I am concerned about having the workforce to accommodate that growth.”
One of the ways, he notes that THE SHOOTER can help with the workforce issues is by making the inversion process more efficient, which means less manpower is needed to complete a project. Innovations on THE SHOOTER that improve efficiency include its auto-oiling feature on both models and remote operation capability on THE SHOOTER 24.
Irvin points to another recent development to THE SHOOTER that accounts for the CIPP industry’s increased use of ultraviolet (UV) light for curing. A Y-adapter is now available that allows for the insertion of the light train necessary for UV curing. A flange is also available that allows THE SHOOTER 24 to be used for water curing.
Through continued advancements, THE SHOOTER 12 is capable of inverting anywhere from 4- to 15-in. liners depending on the conversion kits purchased, and the 24 – though mainly used in the 15- 24-in. space – can invert 6- to 12-in. liners with a conversion kit.
“We continue to promote the versality of THE SHOOTER and that is the key to our growth,” says Grant Waring. “Clients need that versatility of the water curing or the Y-adapter for UV lining. As CIPP project increase in size, we’re looking at a large diameter solution.”
As the CIPP industry is poised for continued growth, the team at Emagineered Solutions is ready to help foster that growth through its focus on support and responsiveness to its customers’ needs.
Project photos courtesy of Performance Pipeline Technologies.