25 Years Later: Trenchless Technology Magazine’s Impact on the Industry

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Bernie Krzys Trenchless Technology

Bernie Krzys with Tom Iseley in 1993.

The cliché talks about being in the right place at the right time. That pretty much sums up Trenchless Technology’s entry into the trenchless industry — that it arrived at the right time and place in trenchless’ history.

1992.

Trenchless technology had been around for many years but was still a virtual unknown to municipalities, owners and engineers; however, it was on the cusp of emerging onto a much larger stage. Enter Trenchless Technology magazine, a media vehicle to cover this unique market and give it a broader audience.

Bernie Krzys, who was president at American Augers at time, understood the trenchless market and knew it had the potential to grow into a global force to address underground infrastructure. What it needed, he believed, was a voice to tell its story and promote its unique solutions. That voice would be Trenchless Technology magazine.

Bernie Martin Cherrington

Bernie Krzys with Martin Cherrington and Grady Bell at the 2001 HDD Rodeo.

Today, trenchless technology is a generally accepted industry with methods and technologies that have become the first choice among municipalities, owners, engineers, etc. However, in 1992, the industry struggled to get its message out to a skeptical audience.

RELATED: 25 Years and Counting – Celebrating Trenchless Technology’s Anniversary

Twenty-five years later, the magazine is widely acknowledged for giving the then-fledgling industry the credibility boost it needed to introduce its technology, products and methods to that skeptical potential customer.

Celebrating our 25th anniversary in July, we reflect on the magazine’s impact on the trenchless industry. We asked a few longtime trenchless industry professionals for their thoughts and insights on the subject. For some, they remember a time before there was a trenchless magazine and the struggle they had to educate and bring trenchless ideas and innovations to owners and engineers; others always had the magazine as part of their monthly reading.

TT Technologies president Chris Brahler puts it this way: “Bernie did more than start a magazine; he is truly a pioneer in the industry, equal to a manufacturer, an engineer or a contractor trying out a method. He gave the trenchless industry legitimacy.”

“The introduction of Trenchless Technology to our industry was a major milestone,” says Dr. Tom Iseley, longtime trenchless engineer, advocate and leader. Iseley has served on the magazine’s editorial board since its inception. “I wish to thank and congratulate Bernie Krzys for the vision he had to fill this gap in our industry. It is very difficult to measure the impact that this magazine has had. The industry was really suffering from lack of awareness of what the trenchless industry was all about. The magazine helped tremendously in generating awareness, bringing credibility to the industry and so much more.”

Those words and sentiments are shared by many in the trenchless industry. By focusing on this segment of the construction market, the magazine gave the technology a forum for its story to unfold, warts and all. In the early years, Trenchless Technology filled the need of putting words and pictures before a unconvinced but curious audience.

RELATED: Trenchless Technology Magazine Through the Years

“One of the problems in the 1980s was educating owners and consultants; just getting the word out,” remembers NASSCO technical director Lynn Osborn, a longtime trenchless professional of 42 years. “Many potential users had not heard of the trenchless industry and if they had heard of it, they were not believers. The magazine really helped with this. It provided a central forum for ideas and technologies. Articles on case histories provided evidence that the technologies were being installed successfully.”

Osborn’s thoughts are echoed by several we spoke with, including Martin Cherrington, who is considered the “Father of HDD.” “In the beginning of my horizontal drilling career, which was 1964, I struggled to find drilling projects and often wondered if one could really make a living by solely drilling holes,” Cherrington says. “At that time, I had no idea it would become such a vast industry. I often wondered if Bernie Krzys worried, in 1992, if there was really a market for his upstart journal he called Trenchless Technology.”

There were some doubters as to whether there was enough material to sustain such an exclusively focused publication. The only person who truly believed in it was Krzys, but when he pitched the idea to his friends in the trenchless industry, they were game to support it.

A group of the past Trenchless Technology Person of the Year recipients at the 2017 NASTT No-Dig Show.

David Bennett, owner of Bennett Trenchless Engineers, remembers Krzys approaching him to help out with the magazine even though he himself was a relative newcomer to the world of trenchless. Krzys met with Bennett and Iseley at the 1992 No-Dig Show and Bennett was immediately interested.

“Bernie asked me and Tom to be on the magazine’s editorial board and he went over his vision for the magazine and his expectations of it,” Bennett says. “That was 25 years ago and I am still on the editorial board and still in the trenchless business.

“I am sure there are many perspectives and opinions from individuals who have been around the trenchless industry about Trenchless Technology. [In my opinion], it has grown today to be the undisputed leader in tracking developments, forecasting trends and inspiring all of us to be better and do better than we were yesterday.”

The overwhelming feeling toward Trenchless Technology and its role in the industry is that it gave visibility and a central voice to this innovative group of solutions for the rehabilitation and new installation of water and sewer pipes; in effect, pushing it forward.

Trenchless Technology has helped advance trenchless construction by providing a voice for our industry,” says Michels Corp. president Pat Michels. “It has allowed us to share achievements, insights and thoughts on issues that are important to contractors and customers. By documenting the extraordinary accomplishments of this industry, Trenchless Technology has helped to share the possibilities of safe, successful trenchless construction methods.”

The editorial approach the magazine developed — which continues to this day — ensured the coverage was objective and showed the success of projects, as well as those that weren’t. “Bernie’s approach to focus on companies and early job-related success stories really helped everyone in the industry grow,” says Brahler. “But he discovered after a few years that if you wrote about projects that had trouble or weren’t always a success, that people actually learned from it. He had no fear in publishing that. He has really catalyzed the industry and kept it in front of everyone.”

Bernie Krzys Tokyo

Bernie Krzys stopped in Tokyo in 2011 en route to Singapore.

The magazine, early on, did more than just shine a spotlight on the many professionals and companies doing the trenchless work — it recognized their achievements by creating its annual Projects of the Year and Person of the Year in 1993. Today, these coveted awards are widely considered the most prestigious in the industry.

RELATED: Trenchless Technology Issue No. 1: Celebrating 25 Years of Trenchless Technology Magazine

“The magazine has continued to serve as a vital and often first source of achievements in the industry,” says Steven Kramer, senior vice president at COWI North America and who has served on Trenchless Technology’s Editorial Board for many years. “Further, the magazine has achieved something very special in introducing the many key people and businesses who implement and provide services and equipment. It shows and recognizes the many talented and creative people who are getting the work done and advancing the industry.”

The magazine also has impacted how the engineering community has accepted trenchless methods over the years by being a huge supporter of technical research. “I would say the biggest impact that the magazine has had on the industry is on the education of engineering professionals,” says trenchless engineer Bill Garibaldi, a longtime trenchless advocate. Garibaldi also worked closely with the founding of the Centre for Trenchless Technologies (CATT), serving on its board. “The information in the magazine is often provided in such a way that it would allow me to understand the variety of solutions that might be available for a problem. By looking at the pros and cons for each potential solution, I was able to narrow my more detailed research to a few options.”

Garibaldi notes the magazine’s commitment to reporting cutting-edge research and its long partnerships with trenchless research associations. “The magazine has always been a strong supporter of dissemination of information from research,” he says. “The research done by CATT at the University of Waterloo and the Trenchless Technology Center (TTC) at Louisiana Tech University has provided proof that many of the technologies that were being introduced were able to be performed as described.”

What does the next 25 years have in store for Trenchless Technology? You will have to keep reading to find out!

Sharon M. Bueno is managing editor of Trenchless Technology.

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Sharon M. Bueno

Sharon Bueno is the Managing Editor of Trenchless Technology magazine.