November 2021 Vol. 76 No. 11


HDD Reunion Returns to UCT 2022; Hall of Fame Inductees Announced

In conjunction with the Underground Construction Technology (UCT) International Conference & Exhibition, the second Horizontal Directional Drilling HDD) Reunion and the annual HDD Hall of Fame ceremony will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 26, at the Fort Worth Convention Center. 

Honored as the 2022 inductees to the HDD Hall of Fame will be legendary mud man Frank Canon and trailblazing HDD design engineer John Hair. 

As HDD caught fire and exploded in the ‘90s, UCT was the primary event that embraced the groundbreaking technology and continues to do so today. Thus, it remains the perfect place for the HDD celebration. 

The first reunion, held in 2020, far exceeded all expectations. The crowd that gathered to celebrate HDD more than doubled expected attendance. The first Hall of Fame inductees Dick Melsheimer and Martin Cherrington were formally introduced to the crowd, and their exploits cited, all to rousing applause. More of the same is anticipated for 2022. 

In 2021, due to Covid-19 concerns, UCT was delayed until July. Held in Nashville, the second annual HDD Hall of Fame ceremony drew another large crowd as posthumous honors were bestowed upon Ron Halderman of Mears and Bob Westphal from Michels. Now it’s back to Fort Worth, where UCT will be held at its regular time in a safe and open environment. 

As the underground infrastructure industry enters 2022, it’s a challenging time for HDD. Large rig operators that have historically focused on energy are struggling, since the slowdown in pipeline construction work, and are looking to expand into other markets. Small rig operators, on the other hand, are backlogged with sometimes too much work, thanks to the fiber/5G boom. All are experiencing critical workforce shortages and parts/equipment distribution issues. 

Despite those issues, the HDD market remains a highly popular, effective and amazingly efficient method to install everything from steel pipe to fiber conduit. HDD continues to experience geometric growth, as virtually every market segment for underground utility and pipeline infrastructure construction heavily utilizes the technology. 

Though HDD’s early history only dates back to the 1960s, its participants quickly became a fraternity of visionaries. The HDD Reunion allows established, older or retired drillers to converse with current operators. Attendees, young and old, swap stories, compare and contrast early equipment with modern tools, share experiences, and renew and sustain old friendships. Those new to the industry will find the information and knowledge gained extremely useful in their current jobs. 

The event is for all those who have participated in the industry throughout the years, including contractors, owners, engineers and manufacturers, no matter the rig size, from jumbo to mini units. In short, the purpose of the reunion is to celebrate the comradery that is HDD. 

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