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ETTI Wins National Contractor of the Year Award for HDD, Other Services

ETTI proves that sometimes the best work is the work that's hardly noticed.

Mon June 17, 2013 - Northeast Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

Unless you are standing right next to them, you may miss out on the work performed by the crew from Enterprise Trenchless Technologies (ETTI) — and that’s precisely the point. The Lisbon Falls, Maine, company that was recently awarded the 2013 Equipment World Magazine Contractor of the Year award specializes in “HDD,” or horizontal directional drilling, a construction method that allows a drill to be steered and tracked from the surface, without the need to dig a trench or disrupt the surface. HDD can be done under rivers, lakes or inlets; parking lots, roads or bridges, and of course, under buildings and houses as well.

Besides HDD, ETTI also offers open trench construction, poly fusion services, vacuum excavation and geothermal installation.

Founded in 1995, ETTI has completed more than 3,000 projects, with over 630,000 ft. (192,024 m) of pipe installed. According to president Scott Kelly, its work is broken into two specific areas — contract and gas work. On the gas side, ETTI holds the master contract to install all main line and service lines for Maine Natural Gas, a project that allows the company to combine its trenchless services with the work of skilled trenching crews.

ETTI also does contract work for other companies, using the HDD technology that it has pioneered in the region to allow its customers to minimize the cost and aggravation of closing down roads, or having to work through other surface barriers such as bridges and waterways in order to complete their construction work. Although its unique drilling technology plays a big role in the success of ETTI, that alone is not enough to explain its outstanding growth. What else contributes to make ETTI such a shining example of business achievement?

Attitude and vision have a lot to do with it.

“We’ve heard that there was a recession out there, but so far we have refused to participate,” said Kelly, who turned more serious to explain how the company has embraced technology, not for technology’s sake, but when and if it makes sense. But Kelly insists on giving his people the larger portion of the credit, and he specifically mentions their skills — not necessarily their technical skills, though, since he believes that “soft” skills such as communication, listening, work ethics and desire to learn, are at the bedrock of the company’s reputation.

Kelly has earned the right to that opinion. His management philosophy emphasizes the importance of starting with the person.

“We hire good local people with strong work habits and then we train them.”

ETTI has developed an ambitious program that includes drilling, drilling mud, geology and utility locating modules, as well as some designed for team building. Treating each employee as an individual person and as a valuable team member; listening, supporting and allowing his people to buy into his vision, is a concept that may sound great but is a lot of work to implement. Kelly thinks it’s worthwhile, however.

How has receiving the 2013 Equipment World Magazine Contractor of the Year award affected ETTI?

“Not a day goes by without someone in town, or in the industry, mentioning it,” said Kelly, who makes it clear that he believes the award goes to everyone in the company — “we all won it together” — and that he was very impressed by the level of the other contestants and the intensity of the scrutiny they all underwent.

“We needed to provide names of 20 companies that we have had as customers over a long period of time; they reviewed our safety record, and interviewed us for two and a half hours,” said the ETTI president, who recounts being at Las Vegas with the other finalists and forging relationships with several other company owners with similar business philosophy and vision.

“We made a commitment to get together on a regular basis, and there’s even a possibility that we are joined by representatives from Equipment World, which was the sponsor of the contest.”

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