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Helical Piles & Anchors are King in Western Tennessee

by Bill Bonekemper

April 2017

The organizers and presenters included:

Anchor Team

Mark Bryant – Product Line Manager

Mike Jennings – Anchor Business Development Manager

Mark Wathen – Anchor Engineering Manager

Jordan Middleton – MPS Civil Products Application Engineer

Dylan Robinson – MPS Utility Anchors Application Engineer

Trenton Manufacturing Team

Terry Douglas – Trenton Vice President & General Manager

Joe Bastow – Trenton Plant Manager

Tim Suiter – Value Stream Manager Anchors

Day One - attendees were treated to presentations that covered MPS helical pile and anchor product lines – round corner square bar and round shaft.  Technical information on the products, soil interactions and foundation design principles was presented by product line manager, Mark Bryant.  “We knew we were going to have a wide spectrum of knowledge and experience with the attendees, so our presentation was designed to cover some basic information on helical piles and anchors as well as some in-depth engineering subject matter,” Bryant commented.  “With the rapidly increasing interest in helical piles and anchors around the globe, we feel it is important to get new customers started on the right foot with the necessary information and support to ensure successful foundation designs and pile installations.  We had a pretty diverse group of attendees who had interest in both civil and utility applications and product,” Bryant added.

Bryant, a geotechnical engineer, devoted time to explain different soil classifications, soil sampling and testing, interpreting soil reports and soil strength for the purposes of foundation design and pile and anchor selection.  He also demonstrated how most, if not all, of the foundation design and pile selection process has now been automated for customers by the MacLean Design Recommendation Software (MDRS) program.

Day Two – a great field trip day consisting of a tour of the 330,000 sq. ft. MPS manufacturing and inventory facility in Trenton.  The startup of this modern facility came about when the ownership decided it was time to merge three previous manufacturing operations located in Denver, Chicago and Birmingham.  Trenton plant manager, Joe Bastow, greeted attendees upon arrival in the lobby, and then Joe guided us on a very interesting tour of the entire facility.  We were treated to up close viewings of metal heating, forming, stamping and welding systems to watch helical piles and anchors being made.  An especially interesting station is called an upsetting system, where the solid round corner square bar stock is heated to 2000 degrees at one end and then is placed into a machine that expands the metal and simultaneously creates an opening for the forming of the bolted connection end of the helical shaft – fascinating to watch.  There were rows and rows of stamping and cutting machines along with many robotic and manual welding stations.

After the plant tour, Mark Bryant ushered everyone to the outdoor product installation demonstration area on one side of the plant. Once everyone was settled, Gibson Electric Membership Corporation (Medina, Tennessee) crews used one their bucket trucks fitted with a boom and torque motor to install several MPS utility anchor products.  When their installs were complete, crews from Parrot Structural Services (Calera, Alabama) installed several MPS Civil helical piles and anchor products.  Attendees were able to speak directly with crew members to get answers to their questions and some valuable tips and suggestions on installation techniques.

Once the helical anchors and piles were installed, the MPS anchor team demonstrated the installation of several driven anchors.  The audience was shown installation procedures for the Duckbill, Manta Ray and Sting Ray anchors. The installation procedures included placement with hand held sledge hammers, Hilti electric hammer and a mounted breaker.  Once each anchor was placed to the desired depth, the different methods of setting the anchors by pulling by hand or load locker was shown.  Anchors set in place with the load locker system, offering immediate feedback on expected load resistance.

Day Three – a second day of classroom presentations with the main focus being on market analysis of the U.S. and international markets and their respective growth opportunities.  Mark Bryant delivered information on helical pile and driven piles while Mike Jennings covered the remaining MacLean anchoring systems.  The outlook for growth in both markets is significantly positive and both Bryant and Jennings portrayed a sense of significant optimism for the company’s ability to provide sales and marketing solutions designed to help distributors and installers increase their market shares.

Plant manager Joe Bastow went through several slides that detailed the many improvements in the company’s manufacturing systems since the two older facilities have been merged into the single Trenton operation.  The improvements in production flow methodologies, the addition of automated CNC systems and robotic welding have all come together to provide the company with greatly increased throughput capacity and quality control assurance.

About MacLean Power Systems 

MacLean Power Systems (MPS) is a leading manufacturer of products for electric utility, telecommunications and civil construction markets. MPS products include: automatic splices and bolted connectors, silicone rubber non-ceramic insulators for transmission, distribution and substation applications, hollow core insulators, surge arresters, guy and foundation anchors, pole line hardware, aluminum and ductile clamps, fiberglass brackets and guy strains, steel fabrications, and grounding equipment. MPS has manufacturing operations in the USA, Canada, China, Australia, Brazil, France, Thailand and Malaysia and serves customers around the world. MPS is headquartered in York, SC.

About MacLean-Fogg

MacLean-Fogg Company is a group of global enterprises that partner with key customers to engineer, manufacture, and distribute products for the civil construction, automotive and power utility marketplaces worldwide.  Founded in 1925, today MacLean-Fogg is a global enterprise with 40 global manufacturing facilities, annual sales in excess of one billion dollars, and a worldwide workforce of more than 4,000 people.  Barry MacLean is the CEO and Chairman of MacLean-Fogg, and his son Duncan is currently president of MacLean-Fogg.  The company is a privately held enterprise headquartered in Mundelein, IL USA.

MacLean Power Systems Hosts 2017 MPS Anchor

University in Trenton and Jackson Tennessee

This author along with 40 other helical pile and anchor enthusiasts from destinations as far away as South Africa were treated to a very well organized, extremely interesting and smoothly run three days of valuable information gathering and sharing hosted by several MPS team members.  The classroom presentations were hosted in Jackson, TN while the manufacturing plant tour and product installation demonstrations were held at the MacLean Power Systems plant located in Trenton, TN.


481 Munn Road

Suite 300

Fort Mill, SC 29715