Hemphill Makes NASTT To ISTT Transition

As executive director of the North American Society for Trenchless Technology, John Hemphill played a significant role in programs that have educated members of the trenchless industry and general public about the benefits of trenchless construction.

While at NASTT, Hemphill coordinated the Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD) Consortium’s development and publication of HDD Good Practices guidelines. Also during his tenure, the society’s educational programs were significantly expanded, membership increased, the annual No Dig Show grew in size and scope, and good practices guidelines were developed for other trenchless procedures.

To many, Hemphill’s announcement last year that he planned to retire may have been a surprise, followed by news of his appointment as executive director of the International Society for Trenchless Technology (ISTT).

“I felt like the time was right to step down at NASTT,” said Hemphill. “We had accomplished a lot, and it seemed that it would be good to bring in new leadership with new views and ideas.”

Hemphill planned to remain in Virginia, relax and take his time to consider what he wanted to do next. He agreed to stay on at NASTT while his replacement was found and to assist with the transition.


Then he learned that ISTT’s executive secretary, John Castle, also was retiring, and ISTT was searching for an executive to manage that organization. He applied for the ISTT position, and was selected for the job.

“It seemed to be a natural progression,” Hemphill said. “I saw an opportunity to remain in the trenchless industry and have the opportunity to address new challenges.”

NASTT hired Michael Willmets as its new executive director, and Hemphill stayed on for NASTT’s educational programs at the 2008 UCT show and 2008 No Dig show. Hemphill’s last day at NASTT was May 31; his first day at ISTT was June 1, and he was on the job preparing for the opening International No dig 2008 Conference and Exhibition in Moscow, Russia.

“The conference was quite successful,” said Hemphill. “It was held in junction with ECWATECH-2008, Water: Ecology and Technology, an established event that attracted large gathering of underground construction and water technology delegates. It was clear from conversations that Russians are just beginning to introduce trenchless methods as a means for installing and renewing underground infrastructure, and attendance at the technical sessions made it clear they are very interested in learning more about trenchless procedures and how they can apply them to their projects. ISTT members were impressed with their enthusiasm.”

Hemphill said the event provided an opportunity for his introduction to the ISTT board and to meet with members from many nations.

“The 2008 International No Dig was John Castle’s last as executive secretary,” he continued. “He presided at the event and was honored for his service to ISTT. For me it was a learning experience, and I kept a low profile.”

The ISTT was founded in 1986 to promote and encourage the use of trenchless technologies for the installation, rehabilitation and maintenance of underground utility infrastructure thereby reducing or eliminating excavation. ISTT currently has 22 affiliated trenchless societies, including NASTT. The newest member is Bulgaria which joined at the Moscow convention in June.

“I would say a major goal of ISTT today is to increase worldwide training in trenchless procedures,” said Hemphill. “ISTT faces many of the same challenges the NASTT had during my time there, and I think my experience at NASTT and the progress we made was a factor in my selection.”


Hemphill said one of his most rewarding experiences at NASTT was coordinating efforts of an HDD consortium that developed and implemented the Horizontal Directional Drilling Good Practices Guidelines.

“The HDD guidelines continue to impact our industry and became the seed for NASTT’s expanded educational programs,” he said, “and lead to the development of good practices guidelines for cured in place pipe (CIPP) lining procedures; pipebursting, sewer laterals and new installations which include pipe jacking, pipe ramming, pilot tube boring and other new applications.”

Hemphill has more than 35 years experience in management and policy analysis in the fields of engineering and energy.

Prior to becoming executive director of NASTT, Hemphill was program manager at the Civil Engineering Research Foundation and was the American Society of Civil Engineering’s first congressional fellow. Hemphill also served as the Business Council for Sustainable Energy’s first executive director. Prior to that he was employed by the Southern California Gas Company in several positions including manager of regulatory/government affairs and director of gas demand forecasting. Hemphill was corporate strategic planner for Booz Allen & Hamilton – a business consulting firm; and deputy director for energy policy at the International Energy Agency in Paris, France, and with the US Department of Energy, in Washington, DC.

Hemphill holds a B.S. Civil Engineering degree from the University of Oklahoma and M.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of Maryland.

ISTT headquarters remains in London, England while Hemphill operate from Alexandria, VA.

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