Build the Best Pipe Rehab Team

Take advantage of these 5 no-nonsense ways to encourage cooperation and quality work.

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Owning a pipeline rehabilitation and inspection business can be fun and rewarding. I have been involved in building — or helping build — a number of businesses for more than 25 years, so I’ve learned a thing or two about what makes pipe rehab crew workers tick.

From manhandling heavy tunneling tools and rigging up pipe bursting equipment to measuring grout and setting liners, many of your crew members are jacks-of-all-trades. But with all those individual skills, each worker is only one cog in the well-oiled pipe rehab machine. Nothing works well or truly becomes great without teamwork.

So, let’s take a look at five areas that are vital to the growth of your team.

Set a good example
This is serious stuff. As the leader, all eyes are on you. Your employees will do as you do, and not as you say. You have to be committed to the task at hand and have a well-laid-out plan to build your company, and in order to accomplish that, everyone must be on the same page.

Culture is a word I hear used incorrectly all the time. Your technicians are hard-working laborers, and they all have one thing in common — they’re dedicated to you and your team. It’s a culture of like-minded individuals. Attracting dedicated, like-minded people is the best way to build a team that has a uniform goal. The best way to accomplish any plan is with employees who are excited and believe in the challenge.

The entrepreneurial spirit is built on freedom. Your team members give you a lot of their time, and it can be backbreaking and thankless work at times, so it is vital to reward them by being lenient when it comes to letting them make choices and decisions. Bottom line: Be proud of their accomplishments.

Show them that they have abilities beyond what they may think, and support them in every way to step out of their comfort zones. For instance, if your pipe bursting technician has a knack for writing, let him use those skills to blog for your company website. Perhaps you don’t think the two skill sets go hand in hand, but the technician’s talent might surprise you.

Communicate the dream
Many — or maybe most — people are terrible communicators. To attract and keep the best people, you have to effectively share your long-term company goals so workers know what’s in it for them. Why should they get out of bed in the morning to come work for you?

Tell them, show them, work with them — and make that dream become reality. Do this relentlessly, and eventually your team will carry larger portions of the load and breathe new life into the company. It’s easy to talk. It’s difficult to get people to listen.

Invest in your people
You invest in pipe bursting machines, excavators, inspection tools and lining equipment. So shouldn’t you invest as much time in the operators who use and run that expensive gear?

Don’t pause. Employees are worth the investment of time and money, and actions speak louder than words. Help them be better. Send them to night school, provide regular training sessions on industry updates and cutting-edge technologies, and visit other contractors to see how they operate their pipeline rehabilitation teams.

Another bonus? Engaged employees perform better, and they’re more willing to go out of their way for the greater good of the company.

Be sincere
It’s obvious when someone cares about the work they do. Communicate what you want out of each of your workers, and they will help make your company successful. 

Don’t just ask your workers questions. Listen to their responses.

So, whether you’re expanding your menu of pipeline rehabilitation services or just jumping on the rehab bandwagon, reliable manpower is vital to your success.


Kim K. Lewis is chairman and CEO of LiquiForce Services in Kingsville, Ontario.


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