As GSSI continues to celebrate its 50th anniversary, we can’t help but look back at where our equipment, customers, and staff have traveled over the years. The survey sites range from ordinary to extraordinary, and yet many places stick out in our minds and memories. In this blog series, our Marketing Coordinator, Jennifer Lighthall, reaches out to a few customers to ask about their most memorable survey experiences.
Welcome back to our blog series, where we’re sharing some of the most memorable surveys from our team and customers. In this post, we’ll be featuring Reid Davis, Ryan Hammer, and Keith Sorota.
Did you miss Part One of this series? Read it here.
Reid Davis, Co-Owner of Concrete GPR
JL: Tell us about yourself.
RD: I’m a founding partner of Concrete GPR in Oregon. I’ve been working with GSSI GPR equipment since 2007. My job is a perfect blend of field and office work and I’ve had a lot of great opportunities to conduct interesting projects.
JL: Even though your company is based in Oregon, have you had the opportunity to travel outside of the Northwest for a project? If so, where was your farthest project?
RD: We mainly do projects in the Northwest, but I have done a handful of projects all over the country. Guam is the farthest I’ve traveled for a GPR project.
JL: That is far away from Oregon, it must have been a different landscape and climate from your normal jobs. If you had to pick one GPR project that was most memorable to you, what would it be?
RD: Several years ago, I did a job in the Caribbean that was most memorable to me. I traveled to a small island to locate a historically significant gravesite. The mass burial would have been around thirty years old, and the entire area was overgrown with ant-infested thorny trees. When I say thorns, I mean 1 to 2 inch solid spikes that stabbed right through the soles of my shoes. And when I say ant-infested, I mean that every time I brushed against a tree limb, a shower of tiny black ants would rain into my neck and hair, biting like mad. My boss told me to take tennis shoes because I’d be working on grass. After the first day of thorns ripping up my legs, I decided to buy boots on the island. But there seems to be a foot size differential, I couldn’t find anything larger than an 8 for my 11.5 feet. Desperate times and measures.
I spent several days collecting 3D grids with a SIR 3000 and 400 MHz antenna in the least-overgrown sections, working from the thirty-year-old memories of people who only saw the excavation from a distance, keeping our fingers crossed that we’d be lucky enough to have data access over the actual gravesite.
The real kicker for the project, and the part that really makes it stand out for me, came at lunchtime on the first day. Although the client was influential, the job was not completely sanctioned, and was not publicized due to the sensitive nature of the burial. Some folks might have been very angry about it. When the client was getting ready to go grab lunch on that first day, leaving me alone at the jobsite, he first handed me a revolver and said, “If anyone approaches you, shoot them, and we will work it out.”
JL: Wow, I can’t even imagine what your feet felt like after stepping on all those thorns. At least the client was protecting you while on the job, but I bet it was scary after he said that. Thank you for sharing you story Reid!
Ryan Hammer, Hard Rock Technologies
JL: Tell us a little about yourself.
RH: My wife Emily and I own Hard Rock Technologies near Chicago, Illinois. Our company has been in business using GPR for 12 years and I have 10 years of experience. Our company is also part of the Concrete Sawing and Drilling Association (CSDA) and we appreciate the friendships we have formed and the knowledge we have gained from being apart of this association.
JL: How far have you traveled to do a survey?
RH: Being in the Midwest, it’s not difficult for us to travel to multiple border states. The furthest I’ve traveled is to Des Moines, IA and Eau Claire, WI which are both 10-hour round trips. In addition to traveling for surveys, I travel to get trained as well. I’ve traveled to Oregon, New Hampshire, Nevada, and Kansas to attend GPR trainings and certification.
JL: You are in a great location to travel to different states and do your work without going too far. It’s great to see how many places you’ve gone for training. You must have experienced some interested jobs being in such a historical area. What is your most interesting survey?
RH: Yes, you are correct, being in Chicago we have a plethora of different types of construction. I have been in high-rises that range from well over 100 years old to only a few months old. I have worked in multiple historical buildings and Chicago landmarks, all of which have been memorable.
It’s the unique jobs that really stand out to me. I was called out to Beloit, Wisconsin to collect data on a concrete slab due to incomplete as-builts. I was able to provide the structural engineer with all the missing data including, depth of coverage, spacing and number of layers of rebar. This job stood out from our typical day-to-day jobs, so we sent the information to CSDA and our work was highlighted in the September 2019 issue of Concrete Openings Magazine.
JL: So cool that you could provide so much helpful information and prevent the engineer from encountering anything unexpected. I’ll head over to the Concrete Openings website to read more about your job. Thanks for sharing, Ryan!
Keith Sorota, Infrasense, Inc.
JL: Tell us a little about yourself.
KS: I’m a Project Engineer at Infrasense, located in Woburn, Massachusetts. I have been using GSSI GPR systems since 2007. I have performed surveys with a variety of different GSSI systems and antennas from the SIR 2 to the SIR 4000 and the MLF antenna to the StructureScan Mini XT.
JL: Wow, you have tried almost every system in our suite of products throughout the years. Do you mainly do projects in the Northeast or are your services nationwide?
KS: We do projects all over the country. The farthest that I’ve traveled to do a GPR survey was California. We did a job at San Francisco International Airport on the runways, taxiways and aprons.
JL: That’s so cool that you get to travel around and do different jobs in a multitude of areas. What is the most interesting survey that you have participated in?
KS: One of the most interesting was Electric Boat in Groton, Connecticut where I worked with Jon Brinkmann to identify rebar, concrete deterioration and voids in one of the graving docks around the sump system. The survey was to support a known deficiency in the sump system allowing water and material to be washed away during flood and de-watering cycles. The extent of voids was mapped out and verified by Electric Boat through coring (core clearance also performed).
The survey was done on successive years to identify changes in the voids sizes and then again confirmed by Electric Boat through drilling. The information provided was used to estimate the materials required to repair the voids through grout injection, etc. Since the facility is a secure site, we could not bring in our cell phones or cameras, making photos of the project unavailable.
Catching a few glimpses of submarines being constructed and working down behind a wall of water in the graving dock was a very fun experience.
JL: I wish you could have taken pictures, submarines have been a theme in this series and I would love to see one up close and personal. I still love that you have used a wide variety of our equipment for many applications. Thanks for sharing, Keith!