In this episode, I talk with Matt Aston, GPRS’ founder, about the company’s various services, including video pipe inspection, leak detection, laser scanning, and ground-penetrating radar. He shares the origin story of GPRS and its growth strategy, and also introduces the SiteMap initiative, which aims to create a comprehensive view of underground infrastructure for facilities.
Here Are Some of the Questions I Ask Matt:
- How does video pipe inspection work, and in which scenarios is it most useful?
- What is the technology behind infrastructure leak detection, and how does GPRS enhance traditional methods in this crucial aspect?
- How does the use of laser scanning services benefit your clients?
- What do ground-penetrating radar services entail, and how do they play a crucial role in construction and utility management?
- Could you share a bit about the origin story of GPRS, from its beginnings as a one-person venture to evolving into a company with 800 employees?
- How has the company’s growth strategy evolved as it has expanded?
- Could you provide some information about your new initiative, SiteMap, including its goals and what distinguishes it from other services in the market?
- What advice would you offer to someone interested in pursuing a career in GPR services, and how can they best prepare for such a profession?
Here Are Some Key Points Discussed in This Episode About Ground Penetrating Radar:
- GPRS has introduced video pipe inspection, a method used to examine the interiors of sewers. This technology proves especially valuable in scenarios involving directional boring, as it detects issues like unnoticed pipe damage or cross bores, preventing potential collapses or sinkholes.
- GPRS uses an acoustic method that “listens” for water leaks. They specialize in solving water loss issues in aging infrastructure, particularly in critical places like hospitals and manufacturing plants.
- TruePoint Laser Scanning, now part of GPRS, uses LiDAR technology for precise laser scanning of spaces like mechanical rooms and refineries. By combining this with GPRS’ ground penetrating radar (GPR), they enhance underground mapping, creating a more complete picture for Building Information Modeling (BIM) programs, revealing both visible and hidden aspects of a space.
- In concrete, GPR services locate electrical services and precisely map reinforcing steel placement, enabling accurate drilling. Ground-penetrating radar is also used for finding voids below the surface. Underground, the primary focus is on utilities, detecting them before excavation, but GPR is versatile, also identifying voids and underground storage tanks.
- GPRS started small in Toledo, Ohio, and quickly grew to nearly 800 employees. They expanded strategically into Detroit and Ann Arbor, gaining national attention through early online marketing. Shifting focus from fieldwork to business growth, GPRS is now in 54 markets across the U.S., with about 450 field employees and close to 800 staff overall.
- GPRS started by expanding widely into various cities, focusing more on coverage than depth. Beginning national expansion in 2006,2007, they initially had few representatives per city until around 2013. Now, markets like Southern California, Philadelphia, Northern California, and Seattle have over 30 project managers daily. This strategy aligns with population and construction spending, prioritizing broad coverage first and then increasing presence based on demand.
- GPRS launched SiteMap to tackle unreliable underground records. It acts like a Google Maps for facilities, consolidating accurate infrastructure plans for campuses and hospitals. The initiative transparently records GPRS findings, including utility depth and markings. Plans involve integrating augmented reality through the GPRS app for visualizing and tracing underground utilities.
- For those considering a career in GPR services, prioritize showcasing your character over your background. The key is to demonstrate a strong desire for responsibility and prove your ability to handle it effectively. Embrace diverse backgrounds, as skills can be learned, and success in your role is achievable with the right attitude.
More Details in This Episode…
About the Guest: Matt Aston
Matt Aston graduated from the University of Toledo with a degree in Corporate Finance in 1999. He spent two years working in finance before starting GPRS in 2001. GPRS has since grown to be the leading provider of concrete scanning and utility locating services in the world. Over the past few years, GPRS has added complimentary services including video pipe inspection, laser scanning, and leak detection. Matt lives in Toledo, OH with his wife, Tara, and their three children – Ashley, Trevor, and Travis.
About the Host: K. James Taylor, Jr., P.E.
K. James Taylor, Jr., P.E., is a licensed professional engineer and an associate vice president at Verdantas, an emerging environmental, engineering, and technical consulting company with a green, sustainable, and people-first approach in the foreground. James has over 17 years of experience in civil engineering in the land development and municipal fields. Land development services include the design of subdivisions and site plans for compliance with local codes and ordinances, civil/site engineering, stormwater management, road design, and utility design. James has served as a project manager since 2018. In 2021, James was recognized with the Outstanding Project Manager Award at Duffield Associates (now Verdantas) for outstanding performance as a project manager and his consistent display of leadership traits valued by the company, including scheduling, management, proactive communication, collaboration, responsiveness, and client-focused service.
James was selected as the 2021 Young Engineer of the Year by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Delaware Section, and served as the President of the Delaware Engineering Society and the New Professionals Director on the NSPE Board of Directors from 2021-2023.
Books Mentioned in This Episode:
Geophysical Survey Systems (GSSI)
Concrete Openings Magazine
TruePoint Laser Scanning
Ground Penetrating Radar
Building Information Modeling (BIM)
Connect with Matt Aston on LinkedIn
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To your success,
K. James Taylor, Jr., P.E.
Host of The Civil Engineering Podcast