UCT Attendance Soars

The 2013 Underground Construction Technology International Conference & Exhibition (UCT) posted the highest attendance for the annual event since the 2002 event. The official attendance count for 2013 was more than 2,600, said Karen Francis, show manager.

“Advance registration indicated that we could anticipate a strong turnout in 2013,” said Francis. “But the final number exceeded our expectations. Exhibit sales have already far surpassed last year’s pace.”

The show was Jan. 29-31, at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston. The large exhibition also included the 12,000-square-foot RehabZone, the unique “no selling” area focusing on underground infrastructure rehabilitation methods and services.

In addition to exhibits, UCT’s primary educational program offered almost 100 sessions that included tutorials, engaging panel discussions, interactive presentations and detailed case histories covering underground utility construction and rehabilitation methods and technologies.

A first in 2013 was a two-hour HDD Focus Group bringing together directional drilling contractors representing all regions of the country to discuss issues and exchange ideas about the industry. Manufacturers and suppliers were invited to attend to hear first-hand comments and concerns of the companies who buy their equipment

Francis said exhibitors and attendees overwhelmingly approved of the changes to the show hours which have been modified to reduce time conflicts between hours of educational sessions and times the exhibitors are open.

Happy campers
Vernie Santos, vice president of marketing at Apex Directional Drilling, Portland, OR, said his company’s first trip to UCT was exciting. “It’s even more impressive than we anticipated,” he said. “We’re here to interact with others primarily to look for opportunities for work.”

Mike Hogan, president of Duke’s Root Control, Syracuse, NY, said 2013 UCT had a strong representation from the municipal market. “That’s our arena,” he said. “So we’re very pleased to come away from the show with leads for new business. UCT also provides the opportunity for us to meet with clients we already serve.”

UCT was the first time Rig Source, Elburn, IL, has shown its new Terramac RT9 North American-made rubber track carrier.

“UCT was a great opportunity to meet with people who are very familiar with crawler carriers,” said Matt Slater, Rig Source director of sales. “We were able to communicate our goal of supporting our customers’ specific needs, as well as providing customization options they require. Judging from the responses of visitors to our exhibit, they seemed to recognize right away that the Terramac RT9 unit is a quality product designed to allow easier maintenance and dependability in the field.”

Jack Kottelenberg, president and chief executive officer of Avertex Utility Solutions, a contracting company in Orangeville, Ontario, has been attending UCT since the first show.

“We saw the attendance was up quite a lot,” said Kottelenberg. “The quality of those attending was very good, and we saw a lot of new faces. Networking opportunities also were beneficial.”

Boyd Simon, project manager with Ranger Directional, Broussard, LA, could be at UCT for only one day, but he said he made the most of his time.

“I got by every booth (of interest to his business), saw vendors that we deal with, and saw some new things I hadn’t been aware of,” said Simon. “UCT was very good this year — a lot of good exhibitors and good information. There is a lot of knowledge concentrated at this event.
A bonus always is getting to meet people I deal with by telephone, but had never met personally.”

Mike Spero, president of Danby Pipe Renovation, Houston, TX, said “good” describes the show. “Very good attendance, good educational sessions and people we talked with seemed to agree and be pleased,” he said. “We’ve already signed up to exhibit next year.”

Guy Dickes, president of the Constellation Group, Baltimore, MD, was at UCT to make a presentation about thermal grouting. “Being here is gives me to talk with clients and potential new clients.”

Bob Schueller, HDD general manager for contractor S.J. Louis, Rockville, MN, said he gets to UCT as often as his schedule permits.

“This year I attended the CUIRE (Center for Underground Infrastructure Research and Education) engineering and inspector training schools,” he said. “They were excellent. I also went to other educational classes. UCT is very informative, always with a lot of people to meet. I got to meet face to face with a half dozen people for the first time, although we’ve done business by telephone for a while. The HDD industry is a relatively small network of people, so we got to meet with other drillers and share information.”

Jay Miller, president of supplier J.T. Miller Inc., called UCT a tremendous success for his company.

“We met some customers that we know through correspondence that we do not get the opportunity to see in person,” he said. “It often surprises us when we see our customers at the UCT show and we have the opportunity to identify products that we offer, but the customer did not know we have. We signed up for our space for next year.”

UCT is sponsored by Underground Construction, Pipeline & Gas Journal and Pipeline News magazines with the support of corporate, association and academic cosponsors.

UCT is the only annual underground construction industry event that brings together utility providers, consulting engineers, manufacturers, and contractors and service providers in a professional business and educational environment.

The 2014 UCT show will be in Houston Jan. 28-30.

Industry Focal Point

The annual Underground Construction Technology International Conference & Exhibition is a focal point for the underground construction and rehabilitation industries with other organizations scheduling training and meetings in conjunction with UCT.

In 2013, the following special programs were held at UCT:

• CUIRE (Center for Underground Infrastructure Research and Education) engineering training schools (on five separate topics);
• Structural Design for Rigid Pipes, taught by Dr. George McAlpine;
• The Waterworks Conference providing a forum where water professionals can meet to gain insight about how current economic conditions are affecting the water industry and exchange ideas about challenges being faced by cities across the country;
• Damage Prevention & Safety was a special emphasis:
• NASSCO (National Association of Sewer Service Companies) conducted a variety of training programs scheduled throughout UCT week;
• Ethics for Engineers is a mandatory course for renewing engineering licenses in many states;
• The NASTT (North American Society for Trenchless Technology) Pipe Bursting Good Practices Course;
• Staking University’s Locator Certification Training Course;
• ASTM committee meetings;
• ASCE committee meetings;
• Trenchless Technology Center Industry Advisory Board luncheon
• CUIRE Industry Advisory Board meeting; and
• HDD Focus Group.

UCT, (281) 558-6930, www.uctonline.com