A Culligan dealer in Texas sees big savings by finding a way to bring horizontal boring jobs in-house


When installing water softeners, a Culligan dealer in San Antonio, Texas, oftentimes found homes that weren’t pre-plumbed. That meant bringing in a subcontractor to bore under driveways or sidewalks so that Culligan could run waterlines into customers’ garages.

Ten years ago, after growing tired of the expenses associated with constantly hiring subcontractors, Culligan decided to try to find an easy way to bring the horizontal boring work in-house. It didn’t take long to find an answer. By combining a mechanical earth drill with a horizontal boring attachment, the Culligan team discovered that it could easily create a highly productive horizontal boring machine.

“We typically dig a trench and run waterlines into the homes that aren’t pre-plumbed,” says Derrick Barrows, Culligan San Antonio service manager. “I would say 40 percent of the time we have to go under a garage or sidewalk to run a line through, so this type of machine and attachment was essential to our business success.”

Related: PMI and AWE Collaborate on Water Efficiency Study in Five States

Barrows says there’s virtually no other way to get under a driveway, especially with the types of soils in San Antonio. While some 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 wasn’t an option.

“We tried doing all the digging ourselves and then would subcontract with someone to do the boring or dig around the entire house to make it into the garage,” Barrows says. “From a labor standpoint, we knew having our own drills and attachment would save time and money. Rather than digging all the way around the house, we would bore under the driveway and complete the project in half the time, saving the customer money and allowing us to move on to the next job.”

The only unanswered question was where to turn to for the right earth drill and attachment. Online research quickly led Culligan to Livingston, Texas-based earth drill company Little Beaver. With more than 50 years of manufacturing earth drills and accessories and an experienced staff ready to provide guidance, Little Beaver did not disappoint, says Barrows.

Culligan first purchased two Little Beaver mechanical earth drills with flexible drive shafts, which allows the drills to reach the desired angle for horizontal boring. In addition to the drills, the company purchased a wet boring kit attachment for each drill, which includes a water swivel that enables two men to easily bore under a 30-foot driveway in 10 to 15 minutes.

Additionally, the attachment’s lightweight and easy-to-maneuver design keeps projects moving quickly. Figuring 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 hiring a subcontractor.

“The savings are phenomenal, and it was extremely easy to learn how to use the equipment,” Barrows says. “The only challenge we face is the hard rock common in our Texas terrain, but the drills power through.”

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. Culligan can also choose the boring diameter — 2, 3 or 4 inches — and bore as far as 50 feet, if needed.

“We’ve been very impressed with the quality of the drills,” Barrows says. “Other than replacing drill bits on a regular basis due to the condition of the rock we’re facing, we haven’t had any maintenance issues.”

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.

Subscribe: Want up-to-date content right in your inbox? Sign up for our E-Newsletter!

Within the last couple of years, Barrows says a switch was made to two new Little Beaver mechanical earth drills that feature smaller engines.

“They originally were using an 8 hp engine, and I recommended they switch to 5.5 hp,” says Mike Hale, Little Beaver’s sales manager. “The 8 hp was a bit overkill for the type of work they do, and we always want to match our customers with the perfect drill for the job. The smaller engine size on the new models gives them all the power they need to get the job done while cutting their fuel costs.”

Barrows says he plans to run the drills for as long as possible, while keeping his two original Little Beaver drills in storage as backup.

About Little Beaver Inc.
Little Beaver has been 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, call 800/227-7515, email sales@littlebeaver.com, or visit www.littlebeaver.com.


Related Stories

Like this story? Sign up for alerts!