NASTT's 2018 No-Dig Show Entrance

Trenchless on the West Coast 2018 — NASTT No-Dig Show Enjoys Successful Gathering in Palm Springs

There was no shortage of sun and blue skies when the trenchless community converged in Palm Springs, California, March 25-29 for NASTT’s 2018 No-Dig Show, attracting more than 2,000 attendees and 190 exhibiting companies for five days of all things trenchless from networking to education to awards.


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tt 2018 person of the year

Trenchless Technology publisher Bernie Krzys (left) presented the Trenchless Technology Person of the Year Award to AP/M Permaform’s Bill Shook, pictured with his wife Miriam,and good friend Larry Kiest, LMK Technologies.

The 2018 event — held at the Palm Springs Convention Center — marked a return to California for the first time since 2013 when the conference was held in Sacramento.

tt 2018 project of the year rehab

Trenchless Technology editors Sharon Bueno and Jim Rush present Insituform’s Andrew Costa with the 2017 Trenchless Technology Project of the Year for Rehabilitation.

Kim Staheli, with her husband Matthew Izzard.

Chairman Award winner Kim Staheli, with her husband Matthew Izzard.

The No-Dig Show brings together the industry’s past, present and future, honoring the indelible work that trenchless professionals have created.

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The 2018 Trenchless Technology Person of the Year was formally presented to AP/M Permaform’s Bill Shook — an industry professional who has dedicated his 40-plus year career to the trenchless rehabilitation industry — and all of the winners of the 2017 Trenchless Technology Projects of the Year were recognized.

RELATED: 2018 Trenchless Technology Person of the Year: Bill Shook

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NASTT inducted its seventh Hall of Fame Class: Chris Brahler, president and CEO of TT Technologies; Ian J. Doherty, B.A.Sc., P.Eng., president of Trenchless Design Engineering Ltd.; and George Ragula, distribution technology manager at PSEG. Kim Staheli, of Staheli Trenchless Consultants, received the NASTT Chairman’s Award for Outstanding Lifetime Service; Also receiving recognition at the Gala Dinner were recipients of the Trent Ralston Award for Young Trenchless Achievement: Matt Smith, manager-Direct Pipe Michels Corp., and Charles Tripp, project manager Kleinfelder.

tt 2018 project of the year new install

Trenchless Technology editors Sharon Bueno and Jim Rush (middle) present the 2017 Trenchless Technology Project of the Year for New Installation to John Grennan, Ward & Burke (left), and Paul Headland, Aldea Services.

Bernie Krzys

Trenchless Technology passed out cool shades because “The Future Is So Bright with Trenchless!”

The No-Dig Show has two main attractions that are huge draws. One is its highly-acclaimed Technical Program, with more than 160 peer-reviewed papers through six tracks presented in 2018. The papers represented a broad range of industry topics, covering the gamut of trenchless methods and issues. The sessions this year included three Roundtables that featured different trenchless topics (Rehabilitation Water Main CIPP; Claims; and Close Fit & Sliplining Technology), as well a dedicated Gas Industry Track. The other is the exhibit hall, in which attendees can see first-hand the latest products that are keeping the trenchless industry moving forward in its quest to address the utility construction and repair industry.

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In 2019, the 28th annual No-Dig Show will be held at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Chicago. Deadline to submit an abstract for the technical program is June 30, 2018.

NASTT Inducts 2017 Hall of Fame Class

2018 NASTT Hall of Fame Class

The 2018 NASTT Hall of Fame Class: George Ragula, Ian Doherty and Chris Brahler.

One of the featured events at the No-Dig Gala Dinner, held March 27, was the induction of NASTT’s seventh Hall of Fame class, recognizing the contributions of three trenchless industry leaders. The induction class honored before its peers were: Chris Brahler, president and CEO of TT Technologies; Ian J. Doherty, B.A.Sc., P.Eng., president of Trenchless Design Engineering Ltd.; and George Ragula, distribution technology manager at PSEG.

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In 2010, the NASTT Board of Directors voted to create a Hall of Fame in order to ensure that the Society’s most outstanding and praiseworthy members received due recognition. The intent of the NASTT Hall of Fame is to preserve the outstanding accomplishments of exceptional individuals and to honor their contributions to the advancement of both the trenchless industry and the Society.

Chris Brahler has been a leader in the underground and trenchless construction industries for more than 40 years. In 1975, Brahler helped secure an arrangement with Tracto-Technik in Germany to bring several trenchless product lines to North America. In 1991, he started TT Technologies, Inc., Aurora, Illinois, a manufacturer of trenchless tools and equipment. As president and CEO of TT Technologies, Brahler has worked tirelessly with water, wastewater and gas utilities, plumbers, telecommunication companies, engineers and contractors to promote the value of trenchless technology and help build the market in North America. Over the years, he has dedicated the time and resources needed to develop, improve and refine trenchless equipment, methods and solutions. In 2009, Chris began a term as NASTT Board Chairman and in 2014 he received the Lifetime NASTT Chair Service Award.

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Ian Doherty’s introduction to trenchless was the 1988 ISTT No-Dig Show, Washington about 30 years ago now. At that time, he was an engineer with a Canadian plastic pipe manufacturer looking for new product lines. A year later he was in the U.K., touring Rolldown lining installations. By 1991, Doherty was managing a Canadian contractor installing HDPE fold/form liners. In 1994, he started as an independent engineer providing trenchless rehabilitation engineering to municipalities, contractors and manufacturers. His first project was a water pipeline sliplining rehabilitation. In 1995, Doherty incorporated Trenchless Design Engineering and for the last 22 years has focused solely on the trenchless rehabilitation of existing pipelines, with the exception of a few directional drilling and pipe bursting projects in the early years. Over the 22 years Ian has designed rehabilitations, including most lining methods, for both non-pressure and pressure pipes.

George Ragula is responsible for evaluating cutting-edge technologies that increase efficiency and effectiveness of operations through his leading role in gas industry research, design, development and deployment where he has been directly involved with the development and implementation of many innovative technologies utilized by the gas industry. His many years of work in this area have specifically focused on the development and technology transfer of various trenchless technologies for gas industry applications. He is a recognized leader in the industry and has spent the last 31 years of his 40-year career in the gas industry committed to the ever-growing technologies in trenchless construction. Ragula, a past chairman of NASTT, has a diverse background in gas distribution engineering and operations during his extensive career in the gas industry.

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Greasers and Poodle Skirts in the House at the Annual

Educational Auction

annual auction

Trenchless Technology publisher Bernie Krzys hosts the annual auction, with Ritchie Bros. auctioneer Butch Graham.

The 2018 NASTT Educational Auction took attendees back the 1950s with its “Get Retro” themed costume competition — all coming together to raise money for a great cause. The 17th annual Educational Fund Auction and Reception, held March 26, raised more than $100,000, according to NASTT officials.

The Auction is a popular networking event for attendees after a full and busy day of technical sessions and walking the exhibit hall. The raised funds go toward financial support for NASTT’s 11 student chapters; since 2002, the auction has raised more than $1 million for those efforts. Butch Graham with Ritchie Bros.


Chris Knott (front) and Buck and Marilee Bergstrom.

Auctioneers served as the official auctioneers for the popular No-Dig event; a silent auction was also held. During the auctions, a wide range of items were donated and bid on from jewelry and electronics to sporting event tickets and trenchless tools and equipment.

Once again, the popular Morty the Tunnel Rat was up for bid. The winning bidder for Morty’s services was BTrenchless. In NASTT’s Tropical Vacation Raffle (announced at the Closing Luncheon and donated by Vermeer), the winner was Dave Wickersham of Progressive Pipeline Management in New Jersey.

costume contest winners

Winners of the 1950s-themed costume competition were PSEG’s George Ragula and Louisiana Tech University student Tristan Morgan.

The annual costume contest’s theme of “Get Retro” was particularly fitting since Palm Springs was where the Rat Pack used to play and stay. Marilyn Monroe was seen walking around, as was Ricky and Lucy Ricardo from I Love Lucy, as well as Grease’s Pink Ladies. Winners of the costume competition were George Ragula and Louisiana Tech University student Tristan Morgan.

Quick Connect LLC and LaValley Industries Awarded Most Innovative Product Honors

The No-Dig Show is the place to unveil the latest in trenchless technologies and this year was no exception. There were many new products — rehabilitation and new installation — on the exhibit hall floor, highlighting the fact that the trenchless industry continues to grow to new heights.

quick connect

Clint Baumgartner (left) and Rob Tumbleson toast their company’s NASTT Innovative Product Award for the Quick Connect Universal Pull Head.

Each year, NASTT recognizes these technological advancements through the Joseph L. Abbott Jr. Innovative Product Awards. Annually, two companies with state-of-the-art products are chosen as recipients of this honor. The Innovative Product Awards were handed out for the top technology in the industry on March 27 and recognized at the annual Gala Dinner.

Quick Connect LLC received the Innovative Product Award for its Quick Connect Universal Pull Head. This was designed to save time and money by eliminating fusing in the hole, being engineered for multiple applications and withstanding forces of more than two times maximum pull.

LaValley Industries received the Innovative Product Award for its TONGHAND exit side wrench, technological step forward in large bore horizontal directional drilling work.


Rich Prosser, Jason LaValley and Jorge Prince accept the NASTT Innovative Product Award for the LaValley TONGHAND exit side wrench.

This tool automates HDD exit side operations and allows for all exit side connections to be accomplished with precision by a single operator from the safety of the excavator cab.

2019 No-Dig Show Returns to the Windy City

The annual Closing Luncheon, held March 28, gave everyone a chance to network one last time before heading for home. The luncheon also gives attendees a preview of what’s in store when the trenchless community gathers in 2019 in Chicago for the next NASTT No-Dig Show. Program Committee chair Don Del Nero handed the reigns over to Cindy Preuss, who is the 2019 Program Committee chair.

2019 NASTT No-Dig Show Program Committee Chair Cindy Preuss

2019 NASTT No-Dig Show Program Committee Chair Cindy Preuss

The Call for Papers for the 2019 conference is out. Prospective authors are invited to submit a 250-word abstract outlining the scope of their paper and the principal points of benefit to the trenchless industry. The abstracts must be submitted electronically by June 30, 2018.

NASTT’s all-volunteer Program Committee will meet in August to review the abstracts and select the papers that will be presented at the 2019 No-Dig Show. For more information, visit

Sharon M. Bueno is managing editor of Trenchless Technology.

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