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June, 2019

by Bill Bonekemper


Every once in a while a good idea comes along, and somehow the good idea takes shape and becomes something real with some purpose and value.  This author is very proud to say that one such idea flew into my brain sometime in 2017.  The fuel for thought was the realization that the annual DFI Helical Piles & Tiebacks Committee (HPTC) Specialty Seminars had begun to lose their appeal and interest, and attendance was dwindling each year.  And, I was not the only person on the committee harboring this same thought.

So, I woke up one morning with the stray thought that an outdoor exhibition with live helical pile installations, connection to structure examples and live load tests might just provide the renewal of interest and excitement our industry needed.  But where could such an event be held?  Don’t ask me why, but in a few short days I went online and visited the Hamilton County Fairgrounds website because I remembered how vast the site was, and I wanted to see if renting space for an event was an option for fairgrounds management.  I called to ask the question and got an immediate affirmative response – “we will absolutely rent the space for that kind of event.”

Next up was to develop some slides and text to present and explain the concept to DFI HPTC members at one of our semi-annual meetings.  The initial comments were mostly negative.  Why?  A tradeshow to be held in Cincinnati – why would we do that?  Why do we need another tradeshow when we already have SuperPile, IFCEE and the DFI Annual Conference?  Gary Seider talked with me after that meeting and said, “don’t give up on your idea – I think it could work but will take some convincing.”  Having the utmost respect for Gary and his work as chairman of the committee, I took his advice to heart and kept on expanding the concept and developing more specifics.

I approached the DFI about co-sponsoring the event with me (HPW), and the answer came back surprisingly quick – “yes, we like the idea.”  So now the concept had the necessary backing and traction needed to move forward.  The June 2019 dates were set.  Angie Gibble from DFI traveled to Cincy to meet with me and begin to get a feel for the whole logistical effort.  Planning teams for outdoor exhibits and indoor speaker presentations (inside the rabbit and poultry building) were formed and off to the races we went.

So now you have a sense for how the event evolved from an idea into a real plan.  As with every plan, getting buy in from key people is essential for success, and the team members we were able to assemble were exactly what was needed to put the plan in motion.  And let us not forget, most of these key players took on this challenge as volunteers while maintaining their day jobs and their family obligations.

Key People & Companies That Made It Happen

  • Matt Conte – Conte Company, chair for all outdoor exhibits and demonstrations & outdoor exhibitor
  • Karen Dawson – Jacobs Engineering Group - chair for all speaker presentations and assistant coordinator of the load test contest
  • Gary Seider – Hubbell Power Systems – committee chair who provided support for all team members & outdoor exhibitor
  • Wayne Thompson – CTL Thompson - lead engineer for the static load testing demonstrations & data compilation & outdoor exhibitor
  • Ron Lech – Terracon – donated the drilling/soil borings & developed the soils report
  • Ben White – GRL Engineers – supplied the drop hammer dynamic load test equipment for dynamic compression tests & outdoor exhibitor
  • Ben Steinhauer – SSRG - material handling equipment rental & coordinator & outdoor exhibitor
  • BJ Dwyer – Magnum Piering – provided all static load testing frames & ancillary materials & outdoor exhibitor
  • Angie Gibble – DFI event logistics manager & her fabulous assistant (daughter Rebecca)
  • Mary Ellen Large – DFI Technical Committee & Event Manager
  • Theresa Engler – DFI Executive Director – overall event & financial management
  • Glenn Beesley – Hamilton County Fairgrounds Manager

Some Event Specifics

  • (250) attendees – (5) each from Australia & Japan – (15) from Canada – (8) from Europe – (1) from Ghana
  • Attendee profiles - civil and structural engineers, foundation contractors, building officials, educators, helical pile manufacturers and equipment manufacturers
  • (6) 40x100 ft. outdoor exhibits with live demonstrations of pile installations & application-connection examples
  • (18) exhibitors under the tents with products & equipment displays
  • (13) technical presentations from industry experts
  • (2) full days of valuable learning and networking
  • Most consistent comment from attendees & exhibitors - GREAT EVENT – When & where will the next one be held?


Click here to watch event video


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HPW-DFI Helical Piles Tiebacks Anchors Tradeshow & Educational Seminar – From an Idea to an Incredibly Successful Event