Case Studies

Geologic-Earth Exploration Inc.: Best in the Business for Drilling Deep

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Geologic-Earth Exploration Inc. (Geologic) owns one of the best equipped geotechnical drilling fleets in New England. Founded in 1987 by the husband-and-wife team of Peter Canning and Deb Arey, the Norfolk, Mass.-based company specializes in drilling, sampling and testing soil for engineering properties on large-scale projects across the northeastern United States.

Prior to founding the company, Deb was a consulting engineer and Peter was a consulting geologist. “We used to hire companies much like our own, but we thought there was a better way to do it and that’s what we’ve attempted to do,” says Peter.

When the couple founded Geologic, Peter and Deb set out to work harder and smarter than competitors. Therefore, Geologic hired the very best employees in the industry. The company employs nearly 40 people during the height of the drilling season. Additionally, most employees have extensive experience in the field, with a number being second-generation drillers. The average trainee spends at least five years as an apprentice before moving to the controls of a drill at Geologic.

“The part of a construction project we take part in is so very specialized that there is really not a role for a huge number of us in the geotechnical drilling industry,” says Peter. “Within the industry there are few players, because there is simply not the volume of work available that there is, for example, in the general excavation business.”

Depth and Complexity

What sets Geologic apart from others in the industry is the depth to which the company often drills, and the complexity of the projects the team is called on to perform. Most companies commonly drill to average depths of 50-feet to 75-feet deep into the earth. According to Peter, equipment and techniques employed by Geologic enable the team to drill to over 400-feet deep for even the largest project. Naturally, this requires a significant investment in tools and training, but Peter details that it makes a qualitative difference in the company’s service offerings.

While Geologic performs work in all situations, the company also specializes in difficult access drilling. The company coordinates with engineers and contractors to execute successful projects, like the one at Boston’s South Station. Photos on the company’s website show Geologic’s equipment at work drilling deep into the Cambridge Argillite through the station’s passenger platform. “The job was completed around the clock on weekends to avoid the busy weekday traffic at the station,” details Peter. “The project took 12 weeks working on specially reinforced platforms.” However, in the end, Geologic was proud to complete the project ahead of schedule and on budget, even when limited to weekend work.

Another unusual demand called for drilling about 130 feet to bedrock with a special rig, from the basement of the Peabody Essex Museum during operating hours. “One of the most sensitive tasks was working in extremely tight quarters and assuring proper ventilation of the diesel motor driving the rig so the museum could continue to operate safely during drilling,” says Peter.
Geologic provides the team and equipment to complete drilling for both private and public sectors. Geologic lists 20 different drilling trucks and equipment on its website, all of which are project-ready, including Geoprobe equipment for vibratory probe work.

“Much of the equipment we use was developed over many decades from traditional mining tools,” says Peter. Geologic’s state-of-the-art equipment helps the company provide geotechnical, difficult-access, low-clearance, environmental and marine-based drilling, as well as work in wetland areas and in sensitive habitats.

Safety is a Moral Imperative

Geologic holds a Level A rating from ISNetworld, a global resource for connecting corporations with safe, reliable contractors in capital-intensive industries. The rating is based on feedback from the company’s clients, making Geologic the highest rated in the Northeast.

The nature of the work Geologic performs requires its staff to go through extensive training and be ever vigilant on the job. The team’s usual tasks include lifting heavy equipment with cranes, driving commercial vehicles, transporting nonuniform loads and preparing work areas under unusual conditions. The team’s work also includes loading and pushing marine barges through commercial channels for marine drilling operations.

Many of the company’s senior drillers have been with Geologic from the beginning. It’s important to both Peter and Deb that safety measures are followed, ensuring all staff can head home at the end of the day; in addition to being able to hand down valuable skills to yet another generation of drillers.

According to Peter, services provided by Geologic are so specialized that the business is often not directly impacted by traditional economic cycles. Over the course of history, however, Geologic has seen the economy wax and wane several times. “I would say the mark of a business person is being able to adapt to the economic climate,” says Peter. “Some years are smoother than others, but as we mature and grow through various cycles we learn to weather them a bit better.” Geologic is in a fairly high-risk business since it provides such a specialized service. Despite the risk, the company has maintained cautious, steady growth. Both Peter and Deb hope that trend continues.

Although there will always be change in the industry, the team maintains that safety will remain constant; Geologic is ready to handle whatever comes its way. Peter sees the future of the company as a profitable one, as Geologic-Earth Exploration Inc. continues to work with private and public sectors, one success at a time.

Published on: April 19, 2013

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