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Parker-Stockstill Gets The Job Done

The company finds success by going where the business is.

Thu July 18, 2013 - Southeast Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

Parker-Stockstill Construction, Elm City, North Carolina, has carved out a solid niche installing natural gas transmission and distribution lines in central and eastern North Carolina.

"We started the company in 1993 near Ashville with my dad, brother and a partner," said Trent Parker, co-owner. "Our intent was to concentrate on the gas market, and that’s what we have done ever since. There have been ups and downs, but the gas industry has been very good for us."

The Parkers bought out their partner, and the family-owned company today is operated byTrent; brother, Todd and his son, Dustin; and Trent’s son-in-law, Cameron May. Patriarch Perry Parker passed away in 2010.

Not long after going into business, the company took a three-week job in Elm City, about one hour east of Raleigh, and ultimately the decision was made to relocate the business there.

For most work, Parker-Stockstill works directly for the project owner, usually a gas utility company. A primary client is Piedmont Natural Gas, a natural gas provider for more than 1 million residential and business customers in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

On most projects, Parker-Stockstill installs underground pipe and makes all connections.

"We do not sub out any part of our work," said Parker.

To put pipe in the ground, Parker-Stockstill depends on vibratory plowing and horizontal directional drilling equipment. Open-cut construction is minimal.

“Vibratory plowing is fast, and efficient, and minimizes restoration because no

trench is dug,” said Parker. “Our basic plow is a ’quad’ model with four independent tracks instead of rubber tires. The quads take it over rough terrain and across landscaped areas minimizing turf damage because the tracks distribute the machine’s weight more evenly than tires.”

The HDPE pipe installed by plowing ranges in diameter from 3/4-inch to 8 inches.

Pipe in diameters to 2 inches is in 500-foot rolls; larger diameters are in 40-foot joints which are butt fused. Depths of pipe range from 2 to 5 feet.

Soil conditions in North Carolina vary greatly and can change quickly, said Parker. Much of the work on company projects is in clay, and sand also is common.

Production speeds vary with soils.

“In good conditions, we go from 30 to 35 feet a minute,” said Parker. “In hard soils, it will slow down to about 10 feet per minute.”

Parker said his crews use the direct-pull method for plowing in all pipe, attaching the pipe to the machine’s blade mounted on its shaker box. An option for smaller diameter pipes is to feed the pipe through a chute on a different type of plow blade.

“We prefer direct pulling,” said Parker, “because it fits the needs of our projects better than feeding small-diameter pipe through the chute of a feed blade.”

Horizontal directional drilling (HDD) is used to cross roads and highways, streams and rivers and other bodies of water, to place pipe under landscaped areas, and on job sites where the presence of other utilities prevent cutting through the ground.

“For us, plowing and directional drilling make a very effective combination,” said Parker.

Typical of Parker-Stockstill projects was a recent job in Vanceboro to install 18,000 feet of 4-inch diameter distribution pipe to serve a prison facility. Route of the pipe went through town and then open country to the prison. Pipe runs were made in 500-foot increments.

For plowing, Parker-Stockstill uses a Ditch Witch RT115 Quad with vibratory plow attachment providing 42 inches of cover above the pipe in most soil conditions. The 115-horsepower vehicle is built on a heavy-duty track frame running on four tracks with unique “chevron” pattern that provides maximum traction on wet ground and slopes. A three-speed load-sensing hydrostatic ground drive provides dependable performance in virtually all soil conditions.

When directional drilling is necessary, a Ditch Witch JT2020 Mach 1 is called into service. Powered by an 85-horsepower diesel engine, the unit develops 20,000 pounds of pullback force, maximum spindle torque of 2,200 foot pounds, and maximum spindle speeds of 225 rpm. Its footprint (207 inches long, 51.5 inches wide) makes the machine an ideal combination of power and compactness. Parker-Stockstill uses Ditch Witch drill pipe, bits, reamers, a 1,000-gallon drilling fluid mixing system, and operates Ditch Witch pneumatic piercing tools and vacuum excavation for cleaning work sites and potholing.

Reflecting on the history of his family’s company and its growth over the years,

Parker gives all credit to God.

“When we got started, work was very difficult to get,” he said. “There were established contractors and breaking in was hard. Then we went to Elm City on one job, and the work just kept coming. We would have a project and nothing lined up when it was finished. More work always came along and still does. God has brought us where we are.”

In addition to vibratory plows and directional drills and support equipment, the Ditch Witch product line includes trenchers, vacuum excavators; compact utility loaders and excavator-tool carriers, pipe bursting equipment, piercing tools, pipe and cable locators, and support equipment for these products. Ditch Witch equipment is sold and serviced by the worldwide Ditch Witch dealer organization.

Parker-Stockstill’s Ditch Witch dealer is Ditch Witch of North Carolina, based in Garner, near Raleigh.

“Anyone depending on equipment knows how important service is,” Parker said.

“The support by our Ditch Witch dealer is unbelievable--we’re more than a customer to them--they have a personal relationship with us. My dad was my hero, still is, the finest man I’ve ever known. When he passed, our dealer people were there for us, personally as well as on the job.”

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