Mississippi Contractor Adds HDD to Work Arsenal
July 12, 2012Mississippi contractor C. B. Developers Inc. has developed a solid reputation for quality work over the past dozen years. Based in Petal, just north of Hattiesburg, C. B. primarily is involved in water and sewer construction and rehabilitation with most projects in home state Mississippi and neighboring Alabama and Louisiana. The company’s owners are Cliff and Sherry Breland.
Cliff Breland entered the underground construction business in 1993, working for his father-in-law. He started working in trenches in the heat, rain and cold, as the seasons changed. He learned the water and sewer business from the ground up and worked his way up to supervisor. In 1996, the Brelands decided to start their own subcontracting business and purchased their first equipment: a Ditch Witch trencher, a backhoe, and a dozer.
Breland spent long hours in the field while his wife continued teaching school. Many nights were spent with both taking care of necessary paperwork and planning how to make C. B. Developers grow. In 1997, Sherry stopped teaching to devote all of her time to the business.
“In 2000, we obtained a contractor’s license and got our first project as primary contractor,” said Breland, vice president.
Today, C. B. owns a fleet of equipment that includes excavators, trenchers, backhoe/loaders, horizontal directional drills, dozers, tractors, and a variety of trucks and support equipment.
Breland said clients primarily are municipal water and sanitary sewer departments and also water and sewer districts and general contractors. The company also is licensed for gas work.
HDD Capability Added
In 2010, C. B. purchased its first horizontal directional drill. For years, open-cut construction was the only way to put water and sewer pipe in the ground and it still can be the fastest and most efficient procedure in unimproved areas and on projects where there are not utilities in place in easements. However, HDD offers an alternative when surface improvements make excavation impractical or impossible.
“Most bores we do are beneath streets and highways and water crossings–streams and rivers,” said Breland. “We’ve also had situations where we have drilled under building slabs and come up into rooms.”
These examples illustrate the value of HDD to project owners and the general public. New pipe can be placed under streets and highways without have to divert traffic, and the cost of repairing road surfaces is eliminated. Boring under a stream or river obviously is the fastest, best way to place pipe under them.
“In our area,” said Breland, “directional drilling has become widely accepted in our industry. Many jobs we were bidding included segments where HDD was specified, and we were subcontracting that work. We looked at the amount of money we were paying subcontracts and took into account that being dependent on another contractor often caused delays and other problems; we made the decision to buy our first HDD machine. Doing drilling ourselves gives us control of the work flow and, of course, income comes directly to us.”
C. B. now operates two Ditch Witch JT3020 Mach 1 directional drilling units.
They provide a relatively compact package with a small footprint. Powered by a 148-hp diesel engine, the machines develop 30,000 lbs of pullback, 4,000 ft-lbs of torque and spindle speeds to 225 rpm.
The machines typically make installations of a variety of types of pipe including PVC, PE, and steel in diameters to 12 in. Bores range from 50 to 600 ft. C. B. uses Ditch Witch tracking electronics, drill pipe, and bits and backreamers. A Ditch Witch FX30 vacuum excavator is used to keep work sites clear of drilling fluids.
Directional drilling has brought a new option for installing on-grade sewer lines. Maintaining grade is the challenge for HDD crews, and various methods are used to attempt to ensure a section of pipe installed in on-grade infrastructure maintains grade without “sags” in the installed pipe.
C. B. has invested in specialized technology for making on-grade sewer installations — the Ditch Witch OnGrade system, which combines laser technology with electronic tracking (see details in sidebar).
Two recent projects illustrate how the mix of equipment is used by C. B. Developers.
Currently under way is a project for the Stone County Wastewater Utilities, Wiggins, Miss., for installation of 30,000 ft of 8-in. pipe using the company’s trenchers. Average depth is 3 ft. Excavators are digging trench to install 41,000 ft of 10-in. diameter pipe. Approximately 4,000 ft of pipe will be installed to grade by directional drilling. The project includes HDPE, PVC and steel pipes.
Improvements to the water distribution system of the Bunker Hill Water Association, Columbia, Miss., involved more than 145,000 ft of 4- to 8-in. water pipe put in the ground with the company’s trenchers and more than 5,000 ft of 4-to 12 –in. pipe installed by HDD requiring more than 80 bores. This project also included placement of a variety of types of pipe. Breland said the job required a lot of clearing along the right-of-way, but soil conditions were good.
Breland estimates C.B. Developers, Inc. has installed approximately 200 miles of water lines in Mississippi over the past five years.
“We have built our business on the principle that a company stands on its reputation, so when a project is complete, we want happy customers,” concluded Breland. “To ensure that, we employ supervisors with integrity. They are on every job and they settle for no less than the highest quality of work.”
Jeri Lamerton is public relations manager for Ditch Witch, Perry, Okla.
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