March 2015, Vol. 70, No. 3


UCT 2015: Celebrating 20 Years Of The Best Industry Education, Information & Networking

The Underground Construction Technology International Conference & Exhibition (UCT) celebrated its 20th anniversary in January 2015.

The weather in Houston was perfect with clear skies and temperatures in the low 70s – no nationwide snow and ice storm that kept many attendees away in 2014, although winter weather in the Northeastern U.S. disrupted plans of some registrants.

The final audit of attendance confirmed attendance at more than 2,300 filling both the educational sessions and exhibit hall. In fact, UCT grew enough in exhibit space for 2015 that it spilled over into a second large hall.

There were more than 100 educational sessions, and countless industry organizations and companies that scheduled meetings and training sessions at the 2015 UCT.

The first UCT was held in 1995 at the Adams Mark Hotel (now the Marriott Westchase) off Beltway 8, west of downtown, and included key anchor exhibitors, American Augers, Ditch Witch, TT Technologies and Vermeer among many others.

Broad coverage

Today, UCT remains the only annual underground-focused event that brings together all industry segments – contractors, utility providers, consulting engineers, manufacturers and service providers – in a business and educational environment. UCT’s scope encompasses all underground construction and rehabilitation disciplines.

“Obviously, there’s been big changes in UCT over the years,” said Inrock’s Jim Agnew, who has attended all 20 UCTs. “At first most everything there was all HDD (horizontal directional drilling). Now there is a heavy concentration of rehabilitation – the event has evolved with developments in the industry and that’s a good thing.

“Yet all the major HDD players are still at present and active at UCT and we’re still seeing the customers and potential customers we need to see at UCT.”

The early years of UCT was a time when HDD was taking off, said Richard Levings of American Augers.

“HDD had only been available to the utility market for a short time,” he continued, “and many people still didn’t understand what it could do. UCT was a catalyst that helped bring HDD equipment companies and potential customers together to bring an understanding of how the benefits of HDD could be applied.

“And as the show evolved, exhibitors established relationships with customers and other suppliers, and UCT also is a place we come together to exchange ideas and learn about new developments.”

Baroid’s Frank Canon has attended every UCT.

“In 1995,” said Canon, “most of us had no idea where new underground technologies were going to go. UCT has become a focal point of the industry. While there is strong attendance of engineers and utility providers, UCT still is very much a ‘contractors’ show. One thing I like about the educational sessions is they focus on new developments in technology and procedures – they are very focused on real advances, not papers based on a rehashing of old information.”


TT Technologies President Chris Brahler said his company always sees excellent results immediately after exhibiting at UCT.

“Being the first show of the year and in the winter when work for many contractors has slowed or stopped,” Brahler said, “we always see the people – customers, new prospects, industry colleagues – all at the same place. Once again, we had one of the best shows ever at UCT 2015.”

For exhibitors to return year after year is confirmation that the investment in the event is worthwhile.

John Gregor, Miller Pipeline, who manages directional drilling operations of Miller Pipeline’s business, said most of the companies he deals with are at UCT.

“I can see everyone in one place,” Gregor said. “I single out those I want to see and what we need to talk about. Seeing everyone at the same place over two days is a big benefit for me.”

Pumpco’s John Walton is another every-year UCT attendee.

“It was very good this year,” he said. “I concentrate on the exhibits – we have to stay up to date, and I see what is current and available and what’s new.”

Mike Woodcock, Portland Utilities Construction, said he can’t remember the last time he didn’t attend UCT.

“UCT is my favorite show because it is closely aligned with what my company does to make a living,” said Woodcock. “I usually have one or two exhibits and/or exhibitors that I want to touch base with when I visit UCT to help complete my education regarding a certain topic or two that have come up through the course of business during the year. I use the exhibit hall to update my knowledge, to touch base with old connections, and in most years, make some new connections.

“The connections I have made over the years at UCT have been an invaluable resource for me, and well worth the cost of attending. Sometimes it only takes one new lesson or one new contact to make you see things in a different way that can return dividends for years to come.

For Woodcock, there’s an important additional bonus.

“As a member of the IPBA [International Pipe Bursting Association],” he concluded, “we have enjoyed the platform that Robert Carpenter and UCT have provided us for the past five years to better educate and update folks on the pipe bursting process. Our educational sessions have become more relevant and seamless with each passing year.”

UCT begins its third decade of service in Atlanta, Feb. 3-5, 2016 at the Georgia World Congress Center.

UCT, (281) 558-6930, ext. 220,

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