Another worthy experience at the Great Lake State's show.

Executive director John Schmitt, who holds the oldest current drilling license in the state of Michigan, and master of ceremonies Sanders Slevatz at the Drillers' Celebration.
Contractors from the Great Lake State gathered in Lansing, Mich., earlier this spring for the 77th Michigan Ground Water Association (MGWA) Convention. The MGWA hosted more than 600 people for this year's event.

Discussing the highlights of the show, executive director John Schmitt comments, “Once the seminars and exhibits got started, we had very few problems. We had good action among the exhibits. Despite it being a down year, people were in a pretty good mood. We had 21 life members who attended. We had the best attendance at the Drillers' Celebration that we've ever had; I noticed virtually no empty seats there.”

There were 614 people who attended the show: 224 manufacturers/suppliers/exhibitors, 340 drilling contractors, and 50 Ladies Auxiliary. Although attendance was down somewhat from last year - approximately 90 people, which Schmitt attributes to tougher economic times - he acknowledges, “My thinking is that it could have been a heck of a lot worse.”

Michael Mattson and scholarship winner Stacy Mattson -- one very accomplished young lady.
One would never know it was a down year, given the amount of activity at the convention. National Drillers' Celebration boasted a full house. An evening of camaraderie was accompanied by a lovely meal, a good-natured raffle and an awards ceremony. At this time, the Ladies' Auxiliary bestowed scholarships to college-bound Stacy Mattson and university student Brandon Walkington. Honorary or life membership to MGWA is automatic upon 25 years of membership and 65 years of age, and six members received honorary membership this year: Philip Buer, William Cragg Sr., Stanley McKenney, Chuck McPhearson, Harold Shaus and Robert Ward. The “Distinguished Service” award went to Norman Buer. Gary Reer, with 60 years of paid membership, got a “Special Service” award, and Robert Webb Sr. received the coveted “Driller of the Year” award. “The honoraries and the three awards were special,” confides Schmitt, noting the award recipients all were “very deserving.”

The convention was not without its educational opportunities. Drillers had the chance to take NGWA certification exams. The seminar program included current water legislation and industry-related computer applications. Baroid IDP presented a workshop on improving cement grout, and contractors could take in the McEllhiney lecture, “Well Efficiency Is Not a Myth.”

In lieu of a roundtable this year, National Driller held a panel discussion on current industry issues. Audience participation was encouraged, and the conversation became lively. Hot topics included how to increase profitability, business management and the importance of knowing costs, fair pricing, service and diversification, improving industry awareness and much more. The capable panelists: Bob Webb, A&B Webb Enterprises; Jack Belt, W. S. Belt and Sons; Phillip Bednarek, a supplier from Fuller Supply; Bryan Kleinfelt, Kleinfelt Well Drilling; and Dion Foune, Foune Well Drilling. Their collective efforts made the discussion a success.

Next year, MGWA's convention returns to Grand Rapids, Mich. Look forward to another well-run show on March 28-29, 2006.

Photo Gallery

“Driller of the Year” award recipient Robert Webb Sr. and the Webb family proudly pose for a picture.

Simco's Rich Clarke and Andy Kujawa (North Michigan Well Service, Gaylord, Mich.) talk rigs.

Sanders Slevatz presents a plaque to award winner Robert Ward.

Ronald and Sharie Holben (Holben Professional Environmental Health Services, Eaton Rapids, Mich.) get the particulars on arsenic removal from John Keasey and Rick Skellenger of Sunshine Water Treatment.

Swapping stories at the Baroid booth: John Christ, Stacy Podjun, Podjun Well Drilling Inc., Fenton, Mich., Brian Coles and Carl Mason.

The ladies from Cameron Brothers Inc., Free Soil, Mich., Sherry (l) and Danielle Cameron, visit with Frank Seeley of Preferred Pump.

Joan McAnnich of Rig Doctors, MGWA's Shirley Schmitt and Lyn Ortt, International Pump Tech. Inc., making the rounds on the trade show floor.

A jolly group at the Franklin Electric booth: Chris LaLone (Well & Pump Service, Davisburg, Mich.), Bob McClain of Franklin Electric, Glenn Jandernoa (Valley Farms Supply, Lansing, Mich.) and Matt LaLone.