Drainage Contractor

Editorial – May 2013 – An inclination for education

In an age of learning, can you afford to be left behind?

May 8, 2013  By Stefanie Croley

We are living in an era of constant learning. New technology is popping up, research projects are being conducted, and there is an endless need to network and self-educate to stay on top of your game. It’s hard to find time to dedicate to education – especially as the spring and summer months approach. Rob Burtonshaw, a British drainage contractor, hit the nail on the head when he said, “As drainage contractors, we often work with our heads down and forget about the bigger industry picture.”

What is the big picture? Burtonshaw is working his way through finding out the answer to this question. Burtonshaw was awarded a Nuffield scholarship in 2012 for his commitment to land drainage and its role in the future of farming, and we first chatted with him in our November 2012 issue. Burtonshaw is one of 75 people worldwide who received the Nuffield scholarship in 2012, and he is the first scholar to focus solely on land drainage. Something Burtonshaw has noticed so far in his travels is that learning opportunities are everywhere – especially hidden within conversation. In Burtonshaw’s eyes, the best way to gain understanding of the entire drainage market is by visiting farmers, the end users of drainage. So, when you’re following up with your customers, pick their brains about what they are noticing. Ask their opinion on matters relating to the drainage industry, whether it be about weather, soil conditions or crop improvement. In the meantime, read about Burtonshaw’s progress and lessons learned so far on page 18.

Your peers also can be a great source of information, especially when it comes to the business side of your operation. Creating a solid business plan is so important to any company, and Dan Hodgman of Hodgman Drainage in Claremont, Minn., had the unfortunate reality of putting his plan into place when a tragic accident occurred. Hodgman’s story on page 10 is proof that a plan is critical.

Whether you’re new to the industry or a seasoned veteran, our feature about how tile is made will pique your interest. When it comes to tile installation, you’re the expert. But it’s not often we see the work behind the end product. We’ve taken a behind-the-scenes look at the process of making pipe on page 8. It’s an interesting read about a pretty fascinating process.


You may be a skilled contractor, but a little extra knowledge about the industry you’re so passionate about will only be an advantage. The timing of the content in this issue couldn’t be more perfect. As a newcomer to the drainage industry, I’m always looking for new things to learn, and I share the view of Burtonshaw: the best way to learn more about any industry is talking directly to those who are directly entrenched in it.  I’m looking forward to meeting all of you to discover even more about the industry, the business, and you – our readers. If you have something to share, please let us know by e-mailing scroley@annexweb.com or connecting with us on Twitter @DrainageContMag. See you in the field.

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