Drainage Contractor

News Guest Column
LICA’s View: A proud tradition

November 20, 2023  By David Gallahan, LICA National president

My story
Growing up in Purcellville, VA, my father worked as an excavating contractor. When he first got out of the service, he worked for a tire recapping company, then went on to work for a local farm tractor dealership, where he was soon to be shop foreman. During the war, he was a heavy equipment mechanic and was very good at what he did – he even taught German prisoners how to work on tanks. Once my sister and I were born, he decided to get into excavating and paving. He started off doing pond work for local farmers on our area.

By the time I was eight years old, he had me running a steel wheel roller, rolling the tar and chip roads he did for the township. As I got older, I graduated to heavy equipment. Everything I did was related to drainage and erosion. When grading roads, I would follow my dad on the grader with a shovel to throw out rocks and clean culvert ends he couldn’t reach with a grader blade.

One day, I asked, “when do I get to run the grader?” With his gentle smile, he would say, “Just pat attention to what I do.

“When grading the roads, you look at the material on hand that you’ll be pulling from the filled ditches to make a crowd in the middle of the road to run the water runoff. Then, you’ll be defining the ditches for the runoff. But here’s the trick: always try to get the water away as soon as possible so as to not wash out properties or return to road. The quicker you can get the water away, the less chance it has to build up volume and wash everything away.”


When my opportunity finally came to run the grader, I was as excited as a boy in an ice cream shop – and it was all free. My first job was for Sam, a good friend of my dad’s. I’d earned my time on the shovel, and was determined to grade this road like there was no tomorrow. Two weeks later, we received a letter along with the check from Sam, saying, “Fred, why have you waited so long to let David grade my road? It’s the best I’ve ever seen done.” From that day forward, I graded all the roads.

A network of trusted colleagues
In the LICA organization, you’ll hear stories like this all the time. Most construction companies are family-owned and trained. If you look at our LICA family, you will realize the talent and love for the work is something you can’t buy over the counter. LICA supports all of its members with training and communication to all of our state chapters.

If you’re working on a job in Virginia and remember a conversation with a contractor in Nebraska about a similar job, you can pick up the phone and talk to them about how they solved that same problem. LICA members are the best in the world about sharing information that helps someone else. My dad always told me: if you learn something but never share it, you didn’t learn anything at all.

LICA is an organization of the most dedicated contractors and farmers in the U.S. Our contracters perform drainage, irrigation, erosion control, earth-moving, septic system… the list goes on. Our directors work across the country to help their chapters in any way at any time. You can find them in Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Virginia, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, New Jersey, North Dakota, Ohio and Wisconsin.

Investing in the future
LICA CEO Jerry Biuso sees the need for equipment operators and has started the LICA Education Foundation for Veterans. The Foundation seeks to solve two problems: workforce shortages in the construction industry, and staggering veteran unemployment. No veteran should struggle to find work after serving our country, so we aim to give them the advantage they need to find a well-paying job, provide for their families and live the American dream. You can find out more and help us with this amazing journey: LICAveteransfoundation.org. LICA also have chapters that award scholarships to high school graduates to learn how to work in construction and heavy equipment operation.

We would love to have you as a member of this great organization. Visit our national website, LICAnational.org, to see all the exciting things LICA offers. No matter how large or small your operation, man or woman, if you are a contractor, you will be a great fit in LICA. You can also meet members from around the country at our LICA Winter Convention Feb. 13 to 17. Enjoy seminars, tours and enjoy the fellowship of great friends. DC

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