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Reading, Pa., Contractor Expands Into Directional Drilling

Fri November 04, 2011 - Northeast Edition
Mary Reed


Michael Zeller (L), utility division manager and Dave Olson, special projects coordinator, both of Delaware Valley Contractors.
Michael Zeller (L), utility division manager and Dave Olson, special projects coordinator, both of Delaware Valley Contractors.

“It’s a sign of the new era,” said Dave Olson, special projects coordinator of Delaware Valley Contractors Inc., (DVC), headquartered in Reading, Pa.

His comment referred to Delaware Valley Contractors’ expansion into offering clients new services, including its recent move into directional drilling, which has become a big part of the Pennsylvania business landscape following the arrival of gas well construction on the Marcellus Shale.

Delaware Valley Contractors opened in 1991 to provide truck rental and heavy equipment moving services. Depending on the specific needs of the customer, trucks can be rented for an hour or for months. DVC’s location in eastern Pennsylvania allows it to serve clients not only in the commonwealth but also in New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland.

As a full service haulage business DVC’s motto is “If You Can Load It We Can Haul It”, and it lives up to it by providing commercial and residential contractors and developers transportation assistance for the movement of soil (both hazardous and non-hazardous), salt, stone, sand and asphalt.

DVC has been expanding its activities and recently moved into public utility work after Vice President and General Manager Todd O’Neill added a division devoted to this particular type of venture in order to provide additional services to customers.

“The utility division was developed in 2011 and actually began work after Mike Zeller came on board as manager and began winning public bids in the water and gas work area,” Olson said.

“We were asked to join this team to get this division started, since we had had good success with utility work at our last employment. It’s been a great challenge for us, but it’s going great,” he added.

The new division handles utility installation, water/sanitary systems, storm systems, fusion pipe and vacuum excavation.

Olson’s role is to seek new clients, work and opportunities while also developing public relations for future ventures such as natural gas work, HDPE pipe and VAC truck work with utility companies.

With the current boom in gas well construction on that part of the Marcellus Shale formation situated in north-eastern Pennsylvania, the utility division now also offers directional drilling services.

The Pennsylvania Geological Survey estimates up to half of the Pennsylvania wells on the Marcellus Shale will use this method of drilling, favored for this particular task because it permits access to gas hitherto more difficult or too expensive to reach by conventional vertical wells, as well as the ability to reach gas reservoirs in locations such as underneath populated land or water.

“We worked with our local gas company, UGI Utilities, using our VAC truck, and are working with Granger Energy while installing methane gas lines as well,” said Olson. “This is a new method, using methanol gas for businesses to provide heating and hot water for large factories such as the Tyson Chicken Company in New Holland, Pa., where we worked in multiple areas throughout the city.”

DVC also has been installing water mains for the boroughs of Wyomissing and Lyons, both in Berks County, Pa. In performing this type of project Delaware Valley Contractors’ special equipment includes Vacmaster trucks featuring 900 to 3,200 gal. (3,406 to 12,113 L) capacities, McElroy fusion equipment and John Deere long reach track hoes, in addition to testing equipment utilized during sewer and manhole installation.

Although DVC’s utilities division has been in operation only a few months, Olson noted its goals for future expansion involve a number of areas, including increased directional drilling and steady work with gas and water utilities, as well as methane gas projects.

All in the Family

Delaware Valley Contractors is a sister company of 56-year-old Empire Wrecking Company, also based in Reading, Pa. Empire Wrecking is part of the Empire Group, whose umbrella also covers Elk Environmental Services, a specialist in remediation, waste management and emergency response, the home improvement store Surplus Home Center and industrial and residential wastehandler Berks Transfer Inc.

Empire Wrecking Company was established in 1955 by Harry O’Neill Jr. Harry O’Neill III, current president of the company, took over running it in 1972 after the death of his father. Harry’s brother Todd now serves as vice president and general manager, having joined the business in 1981.

Empire Wrecking specializes in demolition, excavation, land clearing and interior and exterior demolition.

“Empire Wrecking was built on hard work and a firm commitment to customer satisfaction and has worked intensely to uphold that policy,” said company secretary Chris Goerner. “Empire has become a leader in the area of demolition. Interior and exterior demolition has been a cornerstone of Empire’s success.” CEG