October 2021 Vol. 76 No. 10



Patrick Michels Elected to NAC ‘Class of 2021’ 

Patrick Michels, president and CEO of Michels Corporation, was elected by the National Academy of Construction (NAC) to its “Class of 2021.” 

This annual NAC distinction is based on rigorous criteria, including leadership, exceptional service, valued contributions to the design and construction industry, and recognition by peers as being “best of the best.” 

In electing Michels, NAC specifically cited his exemplary leadership in the heavy civil, infrastructure, energy, utility, and transportation sectors; dedication to improving the nation’s infrastructure; and creation and sharing of innovative approaches. 

Founded in 1959 by Michels’ father, in Brownsville, Wisc., the company started as a gas pipeline and telephone cable company. Today, it is one of the top-50 energy and infrastructure contractors in North America, offering construction, engineering and procurement services to meet the growing demand in energy and infrastructure construction industries worldwide. 

He began his career as a laborer in Michel’s line and cable division and advanced to general superintendent and then vice president of the division. He became president of the corporation in 1998. 


Michels, (920) 583-3132, michels.us 


COWI Senior Vice President Elected as UESI President 

Steven Kramer, P.E., was elected as president of the ASCE-Utility Engineering & Surveying Institute (UESI) Board of Governors for fiscal-year-2023 (Oct. 2022 to Sept. 2023), serving as president-elect during fiscal year 2022. 

His active membership in ASCE started when he was a student, in 1980, building and racing concrete canoes. He has a long history of participation in the ASCE Pipeline Division, including serving on several committees, presenting at many ASCE conferences, organizing workshops, and as a continuing education instructor. He also served as ASCE’s first director of research at the Civil Engineering Research Foundation. 

UESI, one of ASCE’s discipline-specific institutes, is the worldwide leader in generating products and services that promote and reward excellence in the engineering, planning, design, construction, operations, and asset management, for utility infrastructure and engineering surveying. It offers professionals the opportunity to network with others and shape the future of the industry by participating in technical activities, conferences, and the development of internationally recognized standards. 

Currently, Kramer is a senior vice president at COWI North America and senior business development director for its Transportation and Water business. He also oversees the growth and development of the tunneling and trenchless practice. 

COWI, a leading international consulting group within engineering, economics, and environmental science, provides innovative and sustainable solutions to complex challenges related to infrastructure, buildings, environment, water, energy, industry, and planning. 

In North America, COWI offers planning, design and program management services within the transportation and energy sectors. 


COWI A/S, +45 56 40 00 00, cowi.com 

COWI North America Inc., (604) 986-1222, cowi.com 

American Society of Civil Engineers, (800) 548-2723, asce.org 


National Trench Safety Launches Employee Equity Participation Program 

National Trench Safety (NTS), a leader in trench safety solutions and a Tailwind-Capital-owned business, has implemented an Employee Equity Participation (EEP) program. 

In an industry first, NTS will award up to $8 million of equity participation units to full-time and permanent employees, annually. The program is designed to align the company’s mission to recognize valued employees and to deliver outstanding customer service through incentivized employees. 

“Employee ownership interests in specialty rental businesses are always tightly held, usually in the hands of a few executives,” said Phil Mason, NTS president and CEO. “Now with this progressive and all-inclusive Employee Equity Participation Program, every NTS employee will benefit from his or her hard work in building this great company.” 

Even more, there is no qualifying or probationary period. Participation awards are provided immediately to all new hires, in accordance with EEP program terms. 

Based in Houston, NTS is a leading independent provider of trench safety and traffic control solutions in the US and the UK. From complex, specifically engineered trench safety solutions to simple trench plate rentals, the company serves customers from its 65 branches across 42 U.S. states, as well as in the United Kingdom. 


National Trench Safety, (832) 200-0988, ntsafety.com 


Doosan Infracore, Hyundai CE Form Subsidiary of Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. 

With the completion of its sale to Hyundai Heavy Industries Holdings Co. (HHIH), Doosan Infracore North America, LLC, is now a subsidiary of HHIH’s newly created Hyundai Genuine, along with Hyundai Construction Equipment (CE). 

Hyundai Genuine will act as the intermediary company of HHIH’s construction equipment businesses, so that Hyundai CE and Doosan can create synergy in providing optimized solutions. Together, with their partners and stakeholders, the two brands will create a blueprint for the future of the industry in Korea and gain a competitive edge in the global market. 

The plan is to manage overlapping investments and invest heavily in areas like future technologies and innovation. Suwanee, Ga.-based Doosan Infracore will work diligently to commercialize Concept-X and develop cutting-edge products, such as electric excavators, battery packs, hybrid fuel cells and other next-generation products. 

Independently, the two companies will grow together, complement each other and even compete, in good faith, in all areas, including technology, production, purchasing, sales, and quality. This will enable the business to expand and associate with other companies operated by the whole HHIH group.  


Doosan Infracore North America, LLC, (678) 714-6000, doosanequipment.com 

Hyundai Construction Equipment Americas, Inc., (678) 823-7777, hceamericas.com 


Total Equipment Rebrands as Vermeer Caribbean 

Total Equipment Inc., a full-line Vermeer Industrial dealer headquartered in Puerto Rico, has acquired the rights from Vermeer Southeast to represent the Vermeer product line in over 20 islands south of Cuba – from Jamaica to Trinidad & Tobago – and including the ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao). 

With this acquisition, Vermeer Total Equipment leads the new entity and changes its name to Vermeer Caribbean. Vermeer Southeast keeps ownership and continues to serve the territories of Turks and Caicos, Cayman Islands, Bermuda, and The Bahamas. 

Under the leadership of Charles de Armas, Total Equipment has represented Vermeer Corporation’s sales, service, and parts in Puerto Rico since 2014. Starting his equipment-industry career more than 30 years ago, de Armas followed the steps of his father, Jose, who, in 1965, founded Compresores & Equipos Inc. (C&E), which grew into a well-known rental equipment company in the southern United States and Caribbean. 

In 2008, Charles assumed ownership of Total Equipment Inc. name and continued building its strong legacy in the region. Today, as dealer principal, he leads the organization in growing its footprint under the new Vermeer Caribbean brand. 

Offering the full line of Vermeer industrial equipment and full-service operations from its headquarters in Puerto Rico and commercial office in Dominican Republic, Vermeer Caribbean has future investments for service centers and inventory in selected islands in the region. 

“As we expand our representation of Vermeer into new territories, we are excited to continue serving the customers who depend on us today in Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, US Virgin Islands and Haiti, while also partnering with the professionals who are doing the important work to drive progress in the other islands of the Caribbean,” said de Armas. 


Vermeer Corporation, (641) 628-3141, vermeer.com 


John Deere and Hitachi Dissolve Joint Venture Agreements 

John Deere and Hitachi Construction Machinery (HCM) are ending their joint-venture manufacturing and marketing agreements in the Americas. 

Mutually successful for many years, the agreements started with a supply relationship in the early 1960s. The companies established their first manufacturing joint venture, in 1988, to produce excavators in Kernersville, NC. 

That expanded, in 1998, to include forestry swing machines in Langley, British Columbia, Canada, and, in 2011, to excavator manufacturing at the Indaiatuba, Brazil, factory. Another agreement, in 2001, combined the companies’ marketing and distribution efforts in the Americas. 

When dissolved – Feb. 28, 2022, pending required regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions – the companies will enter into new license and supply agreements. 

For John Deere, these changes enable continued sourcing, manufacturing and distribution of its current lineup of branded excavators in the Americas. 

Effective at the end of February next year, John Deere will acquire the three joint-venture factories and continue manufacturing the construction and forestry excavators it had been producing there but discontinue production of Hitachi-branded excavators. 

Under a new supply agreement with Hitachi, John Deere will offer a full portfolio of excavators. Also, John Deere will end its marketing arrangement for Hitachi-branded construction excavators and mining equipment in the Americas. 

“As we turn the page to a new chapter of Deere-designed excavators, we remain committed to supporting our customers of today and tomorrow,” said John Stone, president of John Deere Construction & Forestry Division and Power Systems. 

“Looking to the future, John Deere will build on our legacy of quality and productivity and accelerate development of industry-leading technology and machinery that answers the fundamental need for smarter, safer, and more sustainable construction.” 

Hitachi is also excited about a new chapter. 

Beginning in Spring 2022, Hitachi Construction Machinery Loaders America, Inc. (HCMA) will assume distribution and support for all Hitachi-branded products and services in the Americas. 

A wholly owned subsidiary of Tokyo-based Hitachi Construction Machinery (HCM), HCMA was established in 2018, with its North America headquarters in Newman, Ga. 

“HCM, through HCMA, will be able to better determine its own destiny in the Americas with its own business strategies, improved products and services, and updated technologies, all provided through a revamped and strengthened distribution network,” said Alan Quinn, CEO of HCMA. 

New equipment and products to be introduced starting Spring 2022 will be designed to increase efficiency and safety while lowering total cost of ownership. Another goal is to improve and extend usage of innovative technologies in predictive analytics, IoT, telematics, fleet management and uptime services, for optimum performance and productivity. 

“We have an ambitious plan for the future, and we are focused on dynamically responding to the needs of our customers and the quickly changing nature of the equipment market,” Quinn added.  


John Deere, (844) 809-1508, johndeere.com 

Hitachi Construction Machinery Loaders America Inc., (800) 426-5076, hitachicm.us 

Hitachi Construction Machinery, +81 (0) 3-5826-8100, hitachi.com 

LEFT: Hitachi’s efficient and versatile medium-sized excavators – ZX250, ZX300 and ZX350 – are capable of reducing running costs and increasing profits. RIGHT: John Deere evolves its technology portfolio with problem-solving Precision Construction. 


In Memoriam 

James (Jim) E. Bielawa,  
founder and president of Century Products Inc, died Feb. 28, 2021, at age 85. 

Bielawa was a Navy veteran who co-founded Century Products, with his wife, Nancy, near Milwaukee, Wisc., in 1982. Beginning as a wholesale distributor of plastic pipe, fittings and valves, by 2000, the company expanded to designing and manufacturing downhole drilling tools for the horizontal directional drilling Industry. 

Bielawa served as president for 39 years. Along with building Century Products’ reputation within the industry of developing the strongest and most reliable hole openers in North America, he is revered as a mentor to countless colleagues and employees. 

In 2001, he became CEO and his son, Todd, took over daily operations as president. 

“It is my dad, who taught me how to conduct business with integrity being of the utmost importance …,” said Todd Bielawa. “He was a rock when it came to making tough decisions.” 

Reynold King Watkins, P.E., Ph.D., a pioneer in the research and engineering of underground structures and the advancement of pipeline technology, died August 30, near Brigham City, Utah, at the age of 101. 

Reynold obtained degrees in Civil Engineering from the University of Utah (B.S. in 1944), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.S. in 1947) and Iowa State University (Ph.D. in 1957), where he studied buried structures under his close mentor, Merlin Grant Spangler, known as the father of modern flexible buried pipe design. He was a naval officer in World War II (landing ships), retiring as Commander US Naval Reserve. 

As a faculty member at Utah State University for over 60 years, he developed an improved mathematical formula used in pipe design and directed courses and published extensively on the structural performance of buried pipes. 

During his USU career, he was associate director of the Engineering Experiment Station, head of the mechanical engineering department, and founder and first director of the Buried Structures Laboratory. In addition, he served on state and national engineering committees and as a consultant to manufacturers, engineers, and users of buried pipes and tanks, both nationally and internationally. 

He was also recognized by numerous industry accolades, including inaugural recipient (1999) of the Reynold K. Watkins Award for lifetime achievement in the research and design of buried pipes by the Pipe Rehabilitation Council.

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