Water Conditioning & Purification Magazine

Savings Below the Surface

By Mike Hale

We’ve all had those moments when, after experiencing setbacks and frustrations, we decide to take matters into our own hands. In San Antonio, TX, a Culligan dealer had its ‘aha moment’ 10 years ago. When installing water softeners—something they do daily —the dealership’s team came across homes that weren’t previously plumbed. These houses required hiring a third party to bore under driveways or sidewalks so the team could complete the job and run waterlines into customers’ garages. The expense of hiring subcontractors for these horizontal boring projects was adding up, fast. So, the dealership’s management team sought a solution to do the work themselves.

Easily bore under sidewalks or driveways by simply adding a horizontal boring attachment to a mechanical earth drill.

Unearth possibilities
It didn’t take long for the team to unearth the answer. Employing a mechanical earth drill with a horizontal boring attachment, the team realized it could create its own highly productive horizontal boring machine. With the new equipment, the crew could quickly bore under paved surfaces, including sidewalks and driveways.

They regularly encounter homes that aren’t pre-plumbed. Up to 40 percent of the homes they service require boring under a garage or sidewalk to run a line, so the team credits the addition of the horizontal boring attachment to the business’ continuing success. In fact, the team says there’s virtually no other way to get under a driveway, especially with the types of soils in San Antonio. While contractors in other areas might get away with the cheap (although time-consuming) method of forcing a pipe through the ground with mere muscle power and a sledgehammer, that simply isn’t an option.

From a labor standpoint, the dealership knew that having its own drills and attachments would save time and money. Rather than digging all the way around the house, they’re now able to bore under obstacles and complete the job in half the time. This saves the customer money and allows the dealer to move on to the next job more quickly than with previous methods.

The San Antonio dealership saves roughly $75,000 annually with the help of Little Beaver’s mechanical earth drills and horizontal boring attachments.

Experience pays
The one unanswered question was where to turn to for the right earth drill and attachments. Online research quickly led Culligan to a Livingston, Texas-based earth-drill company. With more than 50 years of experience manufacturing earth drills and accessories and a knowledgeable staff ready to provide guidance, the company did not disappoint.

Culligan purchased two mechanical earth drills with flexible drive shafts, which allowed the drills to reach the desired angle for horizontal boring. In addition to the drills, they purchased a wet-boring kit attachment for each drill, which included a water swivel that enables two men to easily bore under a 30-foot (9.1-meter) driveway in 10 to 15 minutes. Additionally, the attachment’s lightweight and easy-to-maneuver design kept projects moving quickly.

Based on two to three jobs a month that require horizontal boring, the company saves roughly $75,000 per year by completing the boring with in-house labor rather than a subcontractor. The team reports the drills are easy to use, noting their ability to power through even the toughest terrain commonly found in Texas.

After growing tired of hiring subcontractors for horizontal boring, Culligan’s San Antonio dealership decided to do the work in-house.

A variety of drill-tip options help Culligan’s crew break through the toughest soil conditions. Optional heavy-duty rock tips tackle hard rock and carbide-blade tips work for hard clay and asphalt. The dealer could also choose the boring diameter: 2, 3 or 4 inches (5.08, 7.62 or 10.16 cm) and bore as far as 50 feet (15.24 meters), if needed. The drills feature heavy-duty transmissions with cooling fins for machine longevity and quick heat dissipation—a necessity in the hot San Antonio summers. Additionally, the powder-coated steel enhances durability, while preventing corrosion.

Within the last couple of years, the San Antonio dealership purchased two more mechanical earth drills with smaller engines, at the recommendation of an expert. The team had been using 8-HP engines, which were considered a bit of overkill for the type of work being done. In order to match the perfect drill for the job and save fuel costs, Culligan purchased 5.5-HP engines.

The team says they plan to run the drills for as long as possible, while keeping their two original drills in storage as backup. Now, rather than deal with the headache of subcontracting out the work, the dealership takes matters into their own hands.

About the author
Mike Hale is the sales and marketing manager at Little Beaver, a leading manufacturer of portable earth drills and accessories. With more than 30 years of experience in the industry, he is an expert on fencing and hole-digging equipment. If you have questions or comments, contact Mike via email (mikeh@littlebeaver.com) or call (800) 227-7515.

About Little Beaver Inc.
Little Beaver has been proudly manufacturing quality, safe and productive drilling equipment for three generations. With a full line of easy-to-operate equipment, along with a complete offering of accessories, including augers, extensions, points and blades, Little Beaver effectively serves the needs of end-users from professional contractors to rental centers. For more information: Little Beaver, 2009 South Houston, Livingston, TX 77351; 800-227-7515; fax 936-327-4025; sales@littlebeaver.com; www.littlebeaver.com; Facebook; LinkedIn.

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