You Know the Drill: Finding Meaning in Groundwater Work
Todd Hunter, owner of Boulder GWS LLC in Boulder, Colo., says he cannot think of a better way to meet really great people from all walks of life and make a decent living simultaneously. He is nearing 38 years in the drilling industry and bought the combined group of companies 27 years ago. He is also 2017 president of the NGWA board of directors.
“I got my start as a driller’s helper on a drill rig doing mineral exploration in northeastern Nevada, and got the bug then I suppose. I really enjoyed being outside and working with most anything mechanical,” Hunter says.
His business offers a wide range of services and products including: water well drilling and repair, pump installation, well drilling recommendations, water well service and repair, water treatment and testing, irrigation and dewatering, cisterns and storage pumps, well tests and appraisals, and solar and gravity systems. The way the company delivers products and services is changing. “The Web helps to connect much of the day-to-day at a very high level, and we are much more efficient in the ways that we handle information. The rigs and equipment are getting better and more efficient, and we older individuals are trying our best to keep from getting too old and rusty to keep them running well ’til the next generation takes that role.”
He says his biggest challenge is finding young talent, and helping the next generation forward to participate in the industry at a respectable level.
Q. What do you do and what keeps you coming back every day?
A. I’m the sole owner of a group of companies that all operate to deliver water, and water-associated products and infrastructure, to our customers. I really do enjoy the challenge of taking a project from the initial conceptual idea and discussions, through to actual completion and delivery of the finished product. Some of these projects are underway for several years from start to finish, so it is very rewarding to see the net end result of all that time and energy. My customers, and certainly my employees, make it all come together and click. I really do enjoy working with them every day.
Q. What does a typical workday involve?
A. I typically start work between 4 and 5 a.m. Each day can really vary, with previously scheduled work and any emergency service work that may come in unexpectedly, so I try to get as much done as I can before the sun comes up. It can get hectic when everyone is up and going. I’m generally always scheduled pretty tight personally, at least a few weeks out, and my company is often scheduled many months in advance. We are well into 2018 with scheduled work right now, so keeping all those balls in the air is a lot of what I do. I usually finish my day at home, with emails, texts and phone calls after dinner, around 7 or 8 p.m.
Q. What does it take to succeed in what you do?
A. Get up and go to work every day, and just try to understand that you can’t be all things to all people. Work hard at what you do and try your best to be good at it. Practice really helps with all of that.
Q. What do you wish you knew when you started?
A. A tiny bit of what I know today, and even a small portion of what I have yet to learn.
Q. What tool can you not imagine working without?
A. Good people doing good things for equally good people.
Q. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
A. Before enlightenment, chop wood and carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood and carry water. In other words, there is always work to be done.
Q. How would you describe the present state of the industry?
A. We have some very good areas in the marketplace to be sure, but in my opinion there are pressures coming from all sides that could have big impacts. There are several issues related to groundwater that are currently being litigated all across the nation. A key decision in the wrong direction could change our business and this industry as we know it in an instant. I just hope we can continue a united front forward with sound ethics and practice. I feel strongly that there are going to be significant challenges to our way of life in the coming years, but when all is said and done, I have a great deal of faith in the people directly involved and those combining their efforts to help us all forward.