The Distribution Contractors Association (DCA) held its annual Spring Meeting virtually this year, March 2-3. The meeting was hosted on Zoom across the two days, providing association updates and hosting committee meetings and other presentations.
The DCA Virtual Spring Meeting was hosted by association president Ben Nelson, president of Michels Pacific Energy, and executive vice president Rob Darden. The event kicked off at 12:30 p.m. Central on Tuesday, March 2, with a welcome message and Town Hall Meeting, followed immediately by the DCA Government Relations Committee meeting.
Nelson discussed the challenges facing DCA, stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. The association planning to operate with a slimmer budget for 2021, largely due to events either being conducted virtually or a much smaller scale in person.
Darden said that the association had a net zero change in membership over the last year. He also highlighted the DCA’s “Let’s Get to Work” ad with Discovery Channel celebrity Mike Rowe, highlighting the distribution pipeline industry and the association’s new microsite, DCALetsGetToWork.com, a dedicated website to address workforce development issues.
During the Government Relations Committee meeting, DCA’s Washington, D.C., representative Eben Wyman (Wyman Associates) and committee co-chairs Mark Albert (AGI Construction) and John Lamerton (Wyo-Ben Inc.) discussed the association’s efforts to develop a grass roots advocacy coalition to address legislative initiatives that impact the industry. The committee plans to leverage technology to make it easier for DCA members to contact policymakers about pressing topics.
When it comes to lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill, Wyman lamented that the DCA didn’t have any strong advocates within President Joe Biden’s cabinet. However, he added that Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia is the industry’s “best friend” among the Democrats.
Nelson said the DCA had to work to find supporters regardless of party affiliation.
“I don’t think we want to be seen as too Republican-leaning,” Nelson said. “We need to work with whoever is in power.”
The Spring Meeting continued at 2 p.m. with the Workforce Development Committee meeting, where co-chairs Vivek Arora (Mears Group) and Randy Rupp (Ditch Witch) discussed efforts to recruit younger generations to work in the distribution industry. In addition to launching the aforementioned DCALetsGetToWork.com website, the committee discussed the DCA’s partnership with SkillsUSA, the Center for Energy Workforce Development (CEWD) and construction marketing agency BuildWitt.
The first day concluded with the Membership Committee meeting at 3:10 p.m., led by co-chairs Mike Aydt (MP Technologies) and Brad Everett (Caterpillar). The committee is looking for ways to increase participation in meetings, as well as improve retention.
The Spring Meeting continued on Wednesday, March 3, starting with the HDD Committee meeting at 2 p.m., led by Rob Hotz (Laney Group Inc.) and Dustin Kraft (Vermeer Corp.). They discussed current HDD issues, and Kraft gave an update on the Oklahoma State University Mud Study, which aimed to prove the safety of drilling mud and its impacts on soil contamination.
The committee also discussed the launch of the new DCA HDD microsite, DCATrenchless.com. Jeri Lamerton (Lamerton Strategic Communications) was involved with the development of the dedicated website, which was based on an informational flyer created by the HDD Committee.
Also during the HDD Committee meeting, Alan Goodman (Hammerhead Trenchless) gave a presentation on “Pipe Splitting and Pipe Extraction” for gas pipeline replacement projects. He said this technique was especially useful for shorter spreads of about 200 ft or less.
Concluding the DCA Virtual Spring Meeting was the Safety/Risk Management Committee meeting, led by vice chairs Dana Heieie (Southeast Directional Drilling) and Bill Colson (PreTec Directional Drilling). One of their biggest goals to promote the upcoming DCA Safety Congress, April 19-21, at the Gaylord Texan Resort, in Grapevine, Texas. The committee meeting also featured two speakers: Luke Wright (Wright Traffic Control) on “Safety Is a Commitment,” and Junaid Faruz (Datch) on “Voice AI & the Industrial Worker: Making Operational Safety, Risk Management, & Data Quality a Natural Experience.”
A highlight of the Safety/Risk Management Committee meeting was the announcement of the 2020 Arthur T. Everham Safety Award recipients.
For the under 135,000 hours category, there was a tie for first place between NuLine Utility Services LLC of Belle Chasse, Louisiana, and The HDD Company Inc. of El Dorado Hills, California. There was also a tie for second place between Atlas Trenchless LLC of Rockville, Minnesota, and Brotherton Pipeline Inc. of Gold Hill, Oregon.
For the 136,000 hours to 799,000 hours category, first place went to AGI Construction of Smithfield, Rhode Island; while second place went to Loy Clark Construction of Tualatin, Oregon.
For the 800,000 hours to 1.9 million hours category, first place was awarded to Hanging H Cos. of Burlington, Washington; and second place was awarded to Michels Corp. of Brownsville, Wisconsin.
Finally, for the over 2 million hours category, first place went to ARB Inc. of Lake Forest, California; and second place went to Minnesota Limited LLC of Big Lake, Minnesota.
The 60th Annual DCA Convention will be held July 27-31, at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando, in Grande Lakes, Florida. More information about the event is available at dcaweb.org.