2021 – Nigel Gardener
Lifetime Achievement Award Winners
2018 – Norman Howell
2016 – Dec Downey
2014 – Ted Flaxman
UKSTT are proud to announce that the Society will be awarding their prestigious ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ this year to Nigel Gardener. We asked Nigel how he felt to receive the award and how he got started in the trenchless industry. Carry on reading to find more about why Nigel was nominated for this award.
Q: What does it feel like to be recognised for what, for those of us that know you, has been a significant part of your working life?
I was so shocked, never in my wildest dreams did I think I would get an award like this. Plant and trucks have been my life for so many years and how they build the machines today still amazes me. It is a pleasure to work with such innovative technology. To be recognised for my contribution to the industry with a Lifetime Achievement Award is a massive compliment.
Q: What does the Award mean to you personally (and/or to your family)?
Myself and my family are hugely appreciative of the Lifetime Achievement Award. My family have been with me every step of the way throughout my career and supported me whilst I travelled extensively around the world introducing and commissioning trenchless equipment.
Q: What was your background/experience originally and what brought you into the trenchless industry?
My career started out in heavy plant, after a few years I received the opportunity to assist with a moling demonstration, carrying out a road crossing. From here, I showcased the new technology to the industry, this is where I found my love for working together with customers to solve their trenchless challenges. As the years went by, the equipment available evolved which allowed me to travel all over the world introducing the technology to various utility companies and contractors.
Q: What has been your most challenging trenchless experience over those years (project/product development)?
One of the biggest challenges within my career was introducing trenchless technology to the Asian market. There was a reluctance to invest, I had to share the knowledge and demonstrate the difference the technology could make to their infrastructure. Once we started working with one of the biggest authorities in Malaysia others followed suit and that was hugely rewarding.
Q: What do you see as being your own greatest personal achievement in the trenchless industry?
For me, it’s never been about just one thing. I have enjoyed watching the industry evolve over the 47 years that I have been part of it. I have always loved solving challenges and working with customers to find the right equipment for them. Seeing our solution come to life and make a difference to their business is what it’s all about for me.
Q: Have you any now or when you started in trenchless did you have any role models in the industry? Who? Why?
Paul Schmidt, the founder of Tracto-Technik Group is someone I have always admired. His approach to business was very refreshing, he was constantly embracing new innovations and introducing them to the world. Having a highly skilled engineers’ mindset with a commercial approach was unique and something I hadn’t experienced before. Despite Paul no longer being with us, I still to this day look back fondly on his work ethic and what he contributed to our industry.
Q: What do you currently see as the UK’s and the industry’s most urgent challenges and where do you hope to see the trenchless industry in the next 10 to 20 years?
As the world heads toward a net zero target, so too does trenchless technology. Renewable energy sources, electric, hydro, CNG will continue to evolve which is very exciting and absolutely necessary. With the move towards robotic trenchless technology the industry is on the cusp of discovering a new way of working. For me, it will be fascinating to see how artificial intelligence works alongside the infrastructure that we already have in place.