Water Well Journal

February 2015

Water Well Journal

Issue link: http://read.dmtmag.com/i/451364

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Page 20 of 75

DON'T LOSE YOUR SHIRT Don't make these five mistakes that could be eating into your profits. By Jennifer Strawn S ometimes, bidding on a job can feel a bit like a game of limbo. In order to get the work, you're pressured to see "how low you can go" on your price per foot. It's a game William McPike, president of Geothermal Drilling Inc. in Huntsville, Texas, knows well. After one of his recent bids was rejected for being too high, he asked how his price per foot stacked up against the competition—expecting it to be just a bit higher. He was surprised to find out his bid was significantly higher than the winning bid. "We're not the cheapest by any means, but we're usually pretty close," he says. "When they told me I was extremely high, I wondered if anyone paid any attention (to the plans)." But in the race to be the lowest price it can be easy to over- look costly details, leading you to lose money on a job instead of making it. Avoid these five mistakes to make sure you're putting your best price forward while still making a profit. Mistake #1: Not doing your homework When determining your cost per foot on a geothermal job—or any drilling job—it's important to do research. For commercial work especially, it's critical to understand the geology in an area before placing a bid, says Janice Hawk- Baldwin of Hawk Drilling in Ballston Spa, New York. "You can't just assume the engineers who are designing the system understand the geology. They understand the HVAC system, but they don't always understand the drilling compo- nent," she says. "So you've got to be proactive and really understand what's there and how much time it's going to take you." Before bidding on a commercial geothermal job, Hawk- Baldwin looks at how many holes need to be drilled, how long it will take them to drill each hole, how many people are needed on site, and the amount of materials they need for the job. But don't forget what's aboveground, too. "You just never know what they're not going to draw on the plan," adds David Henrich, CWD/PI, CVCLD, vice presi- dent of Bergerson-Caswell Inc. in Maple Plain, Minnesota. "The plan will often show a loop field in this big rectangular area, and it looks really nice on the plan sheet, but then you get out there and realize the big wide open area is a swamp." The plans may not show if the site is difficult to access. Using Google Earth may help you get a closer look, but it doesn't necessarily show every detail, such as the hilliness of a job site. Bergerson-Caswell worked on a directional drilling job last summer in an area they expected to be swampy, but when they got to the site they saw it was a marsh—not a swamp. "There were a lot of pine trees, underbrush, and a lot of other garbage that was difficult to even walk through," Hen- rich says. "We talked to the engineer and other people at the site, but no one was able to accurately convey how tough it was to walk through. If we would have went to the site, we would have known." Mistake #2: Using the wrong bit The longer it takes to drill a hole, the costlier the job be- comes. Knowing the formation you're drilling through and selecting the right bit for the formation means you can drill more holes in less time. "If you get the right bit on for the right formation, you're going to increase your penetration rate, sometimes by five A geothermal residential project in October 2013 in Minnetonka, Minnesota, called for five boreholes to 200 feet in clay, sand, and gravel. Photo courtesy Bergerson-Caswell Inc. in Maple Plain, Minnesota. WWJ February 2015 19 Twitter @WaterWellJournl MISTAKES continues on page 20

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