November 2016 No. 71 Vol. 11

Features

NASSCO Standard Bearers: Greg Laszczynski

EDITOR’S NOTE: NASSCO just completed its 40th anniversary and continues to set standards for the assessment and rehabilitation of underground infrastructure. As the association continues its phenomenal growth, this series profiles those who have made significant contributions and impacted the continued acceptance and growth of trenchless rehabilitation methods. This is a bi-monthly installment in a series of articles exploring the history of NASSCO through the eyes of industry leaders.

Greg with his wife, Gail, (center) and their “money shredders,” daughters Ashley and Allison.

This month, NASSCO honors Greg Laszczynski, a long-time board member who also served as the association’s president in 1996. His contributions to NASSCO have been many and as a result, he was inducted in the first class of NASSCO’s Select Society of Sanitary Sewer Sleuths. Laszczynski has been a fixture in the cured-in-place pipe industry for decades.

I know a good thing when I see it. I met my wife of 36 years, Gail, when we were in fourth grade, and we have been together ever since. We were married for 12 years before our children were born, and our daughters Ashley, 23, and Allison, 21, whom I affectionately call our “money shredders,” are the two most important accomplishments of my life.

Born and raised in Baltimore, MD, I knew early on that I wanted a career in engineering. I attended Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, a pre-engineering high school, and shortly after I graduated in 1972, I started working for FMC Corp., a chemical manufacturing company. At the urging of my employer, I pursued my civil engineering degree from Johns Hopkins University part-time. I continued to work full-time, and I also took a break from school half-way through to take a job in Europe for a Danish company involved in process engineering, followed by a stint in 1980 developing a coffee plant in Moscow. So it took me more than 10 years to finally receive my degree.

In 1980 I came back to the United States where I worked once again for FMC on a 97-acre chemical plant. This was my first introduction to trenchless technologies. FMC had seven miles of underground pipes within the property that dated back to 1915. They carried both storm and process water from the chemical processes and were experiencing a lot of environmental issues, specifically I/I [inflow/infiltration]. The best solution to repair both the pipes and manholes was the cured-in-place process. My experience with this new technology set the stage for my invitation to head up operations for a CIPP pipelining company in 1987.

 

NASSCO beginnings

I first got involved with NASSCO in 1990 after hearing about it from Trent Ralston and Al Colthorp. I learned immediately that the only way to make things happen at NASSCO is to jump right in, feet first, so I got involved in everything I possibly could. I was elected to the board of directors in 1992 and became president in 1996. I continued to serve on the Board until 2002, and in 2000 was honored to be selected as one of the first-ever recipients of the Select Society of Sanitary Sewer Sleuth Awards, along with Al Colthorp and Norm Sirna.

In 2000, Laszczynski (left) was inducted into the NASSCO Select Society of Sanitary Sewer Sleuth along with Norm Sirna and Al Colthorp.

Public speaking is something I really enjoy, and I especially love shock value. In fact, I have been told my career of choice should have been stand-up in Las Vegas, not sewers. I was more than happy when I was elected to present the Select Society of Sanitary Sewer Sleuth Award each year. We’ve had some very colorful, and perhaps even controversial, roasts but behind each and every one of them was a foundation of ultimate love and respect for the recipients, who are selected based on their immense contributions to achieve NASSCO’s mission: To set standards for the assessment, maintenance and rehabilitation of underground infrastructure and to assure the continued acceptance and growth of trenchless technologies.

In 2010 I took a short break from the trenchless industry and became – of all things – president of a jewelry company owned by a good friend of mine. After two years in the jewelry industry, my friend lost his license for the product. I came back to the world of underground infrastructure in 2012 when I joined Layne Inliner, where I have been ever since, currently serving as one of Layne’s vice presidents.

When I think about our industry, the words that come to mind are honesty and integrity. If you don’t have those basic ethics, you aren’t going to make it. In my current role at Layne, we install the Inliner CIPP products, both traditional felt and fiberglass UV technology. We utilize a number of subcontractors on our projects in the mid-Atlantic region, and it is important to me that they maintain the same high level of integrity. We do everything possible to make sure a job is done right, but the bottom line is this: sometimes things happen. It is critical to recognize an issue immediately, be honest and up front, stand behind the product, and correct it. This way of doing business benefits the customer, the company and the industry as a whole.

 

In this together

I believe one of the ways NASSCO has impacted our industry the most is by encouraging competitors to work together to do what is best for the entire industry. I have learned from NASSCO and taken this to heart in my day-to-day business interactions. In fact, just recently I had dinner with a competitor that I have bid against several times. This guy is a good, quality contractor. He has called me to ask for advice, offered to help me, and even thanked me for being there when he needed me. When push comes to shove, we are there to support each other, and I can’t begin

to express the value of this. There is no place for negative selling in our industry. We all need to come together to cross-promote, and NASSCO is a place that makes this happen. Companies or individuals with an agenda just don’t seem to make it very long in NASSCO.

I am extremely pleased and excited to see how well NASSCO has played a leadership role, promoting both trenchless technologies and developing standards and specs for customers and contractors alike. The impressive number of NASSCO committees, which allow competitors to sit across the table, all working toward the same goal, have helped to grow the trenchless industry and improve our technologies to push each other to deliver the best possible products with the most successful outcomes.

Over the years I have had the privilege of watching NASSCO grow from a small group of guys who, nearly 30 years ago, passed a hat around to keep the bar open for our annual conference, to a powerhouse of industry leaders who are making real change for our communities. I am proud to have been part of this growth, and I look forward to seeing where we go in the future. As I said before, I know a good thing when I see it. UC

In 2000, Laszczynski (left) was inducted into the NASSCO Select Society of Sanitary Sewer Sleuth along with Norm Sirna and Al Colthorp.

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