March 2015, Vol. 70, No. 3


Megan Schueller: Hard Work, Perseverance Leads To Success

Randy Happel, Contributing Editor

Anyone who has followed her career path over the past 10 years would tell you that Megan Schueller has accomplished more in a single decade than many people realize over an entire lifetime.

The determined, small-town girl from Rockville, MN, earned a college degree while working part-time at the family-operated underground utility company her grandfather, Donald Reed Sr., founded in 1969; learned to operate a directional drill; was instrumental in helping grow the family business; and rose to an executive management position within Nomad Pipeline Services – and all before her 30th birthday.

Initially, Schueller’s professional goal was to become an attorney. She enrolled at nearby St. Cloud State University in fall 2002 to pursue a business and pre-law degree. However, just a few weeks into the first year of classes, an unfortunate and emotionally challenging event in Schueller’s life prompted an abrupt change. Doctors informed her father, Donald Reed Jr., who succeeded Schueller’s grandfather in 1982 as principal of the family business, Reed’s Excavating Inc., based in St. Cloud, MN, that he had a malignant tumor.

After more than 20 years of hard work and perseverance managing and growing the business, Schueller’s dad now faced the most difficult challenge of his life. Everything, both personal and professional, changed for Schueller and her family. With the future of the family-operated company now uncertain, Schueller’s father needed her. Not surprisingly, the devoted daughter stepped up.

Her father’s unfortunate diagnosis required extensive ongoing inpatient treatment at Minnesota’s prestigious Mayo Clinic, a two-hour drive away in Rochester, MN. The rigorous treatments forced her dad to relinquish day-to-day involvement in the business, so Schueller jumped in. Despite having limited knowledge and experience in underground construction and horizontal directional drilling (HDD) at the time, she was eventually comfortable taking on more responsibility. She credits the guidance and support she received from Jim and Bob Schueller, both who served as important mentors and teachers in helping her advance from a small business manager to an effective and successful executive of a larger, more complex drilling operation.


Schueller felt a shift in the focus of her college studies to a major, more applicable to the underground construction business would ultimately be more beneficial in serving Reed’s Excavating. Consequently, Schueller transferred to St. Cloud Technical College in 2003 to chart a new educational course. In 2005, she earned an AAS degree in diesel mechanics and started working for her family’s company full-time.

“I started part-time, basically as a general laborer not really knowing my behind from a hole in the ground,” Schueller says. “But during the two years my dad was fighting health battles, l fell in love with the business. It was a tough personal time for our entire family. The adverse situation was motivation to take a more proactive role. I just wanted to contribute as much, in as many ways, as I could.”

Recognizing the tremendous growth opportunities that directional drilling and HDD technology had for sustaining and growing the family business, Schueller was determined to learn how to operate HDD equipment.

Since underground construction and HDD technologies were the focus of her family’s business, her attraction to the industry was not very surprising. Somewhat out of the ordinary, however, were the instinctual “feel” and skills she would demonstrate as a drill operator. Her competency and intuitive operator talent became more evident over time and, as one of only a handful of female drill operators, surprised many, including Schueller.

“Megan has proven that a woman is certainly capable of operating a drill effectively,” says a loyal Schueller supporter and longtime subcontractor customer. “I’ll admit I was skeptical when Schueller first showed up on the jobsite as the drill operator for a project, but once she hopped onto the machine, I was a believer. She has ‘feel,’ if you will, sort of that sixth sense that all skilled drill operators have for operating a drill with maximum efficiency. She has the gift.”

Schueller remembers all too well the snickers of skepticism she encountered when showing up on a jobsite as the designated drill operator on specific projects. Moreover, despite having completed countless bores successfully over the years, there are still doubters who have not had the opportunity to see her perform.

“At first, I expected people to be somewhat skeptical,” Schueller says. “Yet even now, after operating directional drills for more than 10 years and proving myself as a pretty darn good drill operator, I still get those looks. No one really vocalized it, but I could tell by the looks what they were thinking. ‘How could this woman be a decent drill operator?’ The perception among many was that women were not capable of operating such technical, large complex equipment.

“It bothered me at first, but I just jumped aboard the drill and proved myself. What people think is not that important. What matters most is completing a bore successfully and finishing a job safely. That is what makes my job so worthwhile and gratifying for me.”

Field to management

Over time, Schueller’s knowledge of underground construction, HDD specifically, and the competency she had acquired over the years as a drill operator, proved instrumental in increasing the number of subcontractor clients and growing the business of Reed’s Excavating. Then in 2012, one of the many larger HDD subcontractors Schueller had been working with — Nomad Pipeline Services — extended an offer to join the company as field project manager. It was an opportunity she could not pass up.

Steadily, under Schueller’s direction and project management counsel, just as had been the case while at her dad’s business, HDD jobs increased significantly at Nomad. Business grew considerably, and Nomad had to expand its full-time crews of HDD installers threefold.

“It was a tough decision to leave the family business and join Nomad, but it was a great opportunity for me,” Schueller says modestly. “Since coming on board as a field project manager in 2012, Nomad has grown a lot. We’ve made several strategic investments in new equipment and expanded services by adding an auger boring division and it’s really paid off. Business has grown steadily during the past two years, and we’ve added two full time HDD and auger boring installation crews, along with several new clients. We’ve been able to employ more people and expand our services. I am delighted having the opportunity to be a part of NOMAD’s recent growth and good fortune.”

In August 2013, Nomad rewarded Schueller by elevating her from field project manager to an executive management position within the company.

Suffice it to say, Schueller is an anomaly in the largely male-dominated HDD workforce world. She is one of only a handful of women to attain an executive management position for an HDD-related company. Her accomplishments are even more impressive considering Schueller went from being an aspiring law school student to HDD company executive in less than a decade.

While Schueller’s contributions and success in the industry underscore the career opportunities that exist for all individuals – women included – the humble Schueller doesn’t view herself as a trailblazer or role model for her gender.

“I admit that in the beginning, I was really scrutinized,” Schueller says. “But I think the skepticism was not as much about me being a girl, but more because the bar has been set pretty high for those of us involved in our industry – which is a good thing. Yet for someone starting out with only minimal experience or proven skills – especially women – it can be very tough. That said, I do believe there are many great career opportunities for all individuals in our industry, women included.”

Perseverance pays off

While Schueller is flattered and appreciative of the outpouring of support – especially from many of the colleagues and friends she has met since becoming an active member of the Distribution Contractors Association – she feels the recognition is more about what she has achieved as a determined, hard-working person, and not because of her gender.

“I know many competent women who would like to get involved in the industry,” she says. “Yet many are afraid and somewhat intimidated. If I can inspire anyone, especially another woman, and help motivate him or her to pursue a career in HDD, that’s just icing on the cake. I know first-hand there are many opportunities for both men and women to succeed in this industry. And I am thankful and grateful every single day for the support I’ve received, and proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish and contribute.”

Headquartered in Rockville, MN, Nomad Pipeline services specializes in complex and challenging HDD, trenching, right-of-way clearing and auger boring projects, primarily for the oil and gas pipeline and public works sectors for clients located throughout the United States. The company’s extensive fleet of underground installation equipment is capable of completing HDD bores in excess of 5,000 feet and up to 36 inches in diameter. Over the past quarter century, the company has successfully and safely installed more than 3 million feet of pipelines for a wide variety of public and private sector clients located throughout the United States.

Nomad Pipeline Services, (320) 685-7578,
Distribution Contractors Association, (972) 680-0261,

From Archive


{{ error }}
{{ comment.comment.Name }} • {{ comment.timeAgo }}
{{ comment.comment.Text }}