Dick Melsheimer in the field

Trenchless Pioneers: Dick Melsheimer

Trenchless Pioneers is a special monthly series sharing with readers the trailblazers who grew and expanded the trenchless industry.

Drillers on today’s jobsites doing the good work of horizontal directional drilling (HDD) using tooling to form their pilot and product holes can tip their hardhats to a trenchless industry innovator who blazed a trail for HDD tooling that is still being felt today.

Legjobb Online Kaszinó Magyarországon

A legjobb online kaszinók Magyarországon vonzzák a magyar játékosokat a kiváló játékélmény és a nagyszerű nyerési lehetőségek miatt. Az online kaszinók széles választékot kínálnak a legkülönbözőbb játékokban, amelyek mindenki számára megfelelőek.

// ** Advertisement ** //

Ha szeretne játszani az online kaszinókban, a legjobb választás az, hogy látogasson el a Magyar online kaszinókba. Itt megtalálhatja a legizgalmasabb játékokat és a legjobb nyerési esélyeket.

Ne habozzon, látogasson el a online kaszinó weboldalra, és kezdje el az online kaszinókban való játékot ma!

Melfred Borzall celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2021 — an incredible feat for any company, but for a family-owned and -operated one, it’s even more impressive. Today, the company is led by its third generation of Melsheimers, with some added consultation and expertise from their father, a true Trenchless Pioneer: Dick Melsheimer.

// ** Advertisement ** //

Fred Melsheimer founded the company in 1946, a venture to start his own business to make tools for the installation of utilities without the use of trenchers and shovels — a precursor to today’s HDD. Dick Melsheimer joined his father and went on to become an HDD industry icon. He “retired” in 2016, handing the company reins to his sons, Eric and Peter; however, Dick, now 85, never totally walked away from the industry he helped create, remaining a strong presence at the company, offering perspective, insight and advice when called upon.

“Today, I’m pretty much semi-retired without any specific hours, but I still come to work about four days a week on average and help with special projects,” Dick says. “I also focus my time on a lot of the outreach that we do at local schools, with educating about manufacturing jobs and HDD. I still love to go out to jobsites and talk with the operators and locators, and I’m always amazed at how far the equipment has come, but also still looking for ways to improve and solve problems.”

// ** Advertisement ** //

Melfred Borzall has evolved into a highly specialized HDD tooling manufacturer and innovator. During the early years of HDD, the company manufactured and sold small directional drills. Later, the company returned to its tooling roots, catering specifically to the compact and midsize rig market with its repertoire of drill rods, directional heads, backreamers, bits, blades and accessories.

Dick’s innovations were critical to the success of Melfred Borzall, as well as the directional drilling market. He points to the first invention he was involved in: The making and designing of the first front-mounted water swivel. This tool allowed water to be used by horizontal drilling (just how it is with modern-day HDD). “This greatly improved production and allowed for a wider variety of soil conditions to be drilled,” Dick says. “It became popular in the 1950s and 1960s. We designed the swivel and adapter that would aid in the HDD process.”

// ** Advertisement ** //

He later designed a cable swivel for a reamer. “In essence, we had developed a pullback swivel along with the process of backreaming while pulling pipe directly behind the reamer,” Dick explains. He also notes the development of the company’s Sure-Shot drill system, saying it was one of the first HDD drill rigs available for utility contractors and utility companies to purchase.

He describes the early days of HDD as involving a lot of manual, hard physical labor, as there were no breakout wrenches, no stake down systems or pipe wrenches. He says early on, the gas main lines were made from steel, but the real gamechanger came with the introduction of polyethylene plastic pipe. “Back in the 1970s and 1980s when they started plastic pipe for gas, that started really expediting the industry growth and then we had a boom,” Dick says.

// ** Advertisement ** //

He also points to the Dyna-Mole as a key industry advancement. This tool was diesel-powered with hydraulic rotation and feed, making it safer and faster compared to the handheld air motors. “This allowed drillers to make great gains on their bores that once took a long time,” Dick says.

How does Dick view his legacy in the trenchless industry? “It took me a long time to really understand what we’ve actually built here,” he says. “Since the very beginning, we’ve been in HDD and now to see how pipe is being installed all over the world is very rewarding. All over the world, the lengths and depths that drillers are drilling has tremendously increased, and I think it’s just amazing to see how we have been a key player in that growth.”

// ** Advertisement ** //

Sharon M. Bueno is the editor of Trenchless Technology.

// ** Advertisement ** //