July 2015, Vol. 70, No. 7


NASSCO Standard Bearers – Bill Shook

EDITOR’S NOTE: In 2016, NASSCO will celebrate its 40th year of setting standards for the assessment and rehabilitation of underground infrastructure. As we look forward, we also look back to those who have made significant contributions and have impacted the continued acceptance and use of trenchless technologies. This is the eighth installment in a series of articles exploring the history of NASSCO through the eyes of industry leaders.

In 2016 NASSCO will celebrate its 40th year of setting standards for the assessment and rehabilitation of underground infrastructure. As we look forward, we also look back to those who have made significant contributions and impacted the continued acceptance and growth of trenchless technologies. This month we have the honor of highlighting Bill Shook, president and founder of APM PERMAFORM, and his contributions to our industry.

Bill served on the NASSCO Board for many years, including serving as NASSCO’s President in 2006. In 2011 Bill was awarded the NASSCO Select Society of Sanitary Sewer Sleuths Award which is a high honor as each member is chosen by peers in the industry. We are grateful for Bill’s generous past and ongoing contributions to help NASSCO set standards for the assessment and rehabilitation of underground infrastructure and to ensure the continued acceptance and growth of trenchless technologies.

In 1986, when NASSCO was just 10 years old, I had a crew demonstrating APM’s manhole rehab system to the city of Jacksonville, FL. I had heard that NASSCO was an association of sewer industry leaders so I invited Jim Conklin, then-executive director of NASSCO, to observe the demonstration. Jim visited the site and promptly handed me a NASSCO membership application. That is how my long relationship with NASSCO began.

I was immediately impressed with NASSCO’s networking opportunities and non-competitive exchange of resources. I saw contractors who did chemical grouting and large diameter pipe inspections in the Midwest help members in other parts of the country who had questions and problems. The help went both ways. The overall attitude of a typical NASSCO member was ‘I’m a small guy trying to do well in this business and so are you. So let’s help each other keep the standards of performance at a high level so we can all be proud.’

NASSCO networking helped us make key contacts throughout the U.S. and Canada. The founding members were business owners and leaders in the industry; men such as Ray Bahr, Jr., Norm Sirna, David Magill, Bob Rothenberg, Herb Hafley, Paul Casey, Jay Schrock and Trent Ralston, to name just a few. From the beginning, NASSCO has been very careful to ensure that every member, like this group of leaders, are people who are like-minded and want to do what is best for the industry.

Experience no match for sewers

My early experience as a company commander with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers did little to prepare me for repairs to sewers. In Korea we built remote missile sites and improved airfields. I didn’t see the inside of a manhole until 1985. The road to the sewer business started for me that year when I watched my future partner, Carroll Trimble, rebuild a manhole in front of the city hall building in Bowling Green, MO. At the time I was a partner in a water works distribution business called Water Products Company. Its five offices later became the foundation of what eventually, through acquisitions, became known as HD Waterworks Supply. Carroll Trimble had manufactured manhole forms in Springdale, AR, 1975 under the name Action Products Company. We partnered in 1987 and called the new company Action Products Marketing Corp. to concentrate on manhole rehabilitation.

APM exhibited at the first International No-Dig Conference in the United States in 1988 in Crystal City, VA. Other notables at that show were Irv Gemora, NASSCO’s former executive director, and his business partner, George McAlpine, who were displaying Danby Technology. IGL Group Ltd., better known as Insituform-UK, liked what they saw at the show and the next year Carroll and I sold part of APM to the IGL Group to launch Permaform internationally through IGL’s licensee network. Philosophical differences resulted in us buying back IGL’s interest in APM. One good lesson learned, however, was that licensing technology to local contractors to perform the service was a good plan for expanding quickly. It worked!

One of APM’s first licensed applicators was NASSCO member D&S Contractors in Richmond, VA, owned then by Gene Davis and Bill Stephens and now by Mike Shepherd. Another early licensee was Larry Kiest, Jr. and his Performance Pipelining contracting division of LMK. The early applicators helped refine systems and expand the product line. APM’s philosophy still focuses on a system approach by combining unique technology methods with specialty products that are installed only by a certified applicator.

Red-letter day

I remember a pivotal day in 1987 that occurred at the American Public Works Association Conference in Chicago where I was exhibiting Permaform. Aside from Insituform and Permaform, there were really no other trenchless technologies represented. Dr. Tom Iseley from Purdue University visited our booth and asked me to tell him what I knew about the new no dig industry. Then Tom shared that he was starting a university-level center for trenchless technologies. Today, Tom is back at Louisiana Tech’s Trenchless Technology Center where he is a recognized global leader in the trenchless industry and the Center is a focal point for industry education, research and resources. It was a memorable day.

By the grace of God, APM Permaform has continued to flourish. Through its global network, APM has 38 licensed applicators in North America and distributors and applicators in Canada, China, Singapore, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Israel, India and Australia installing its Permacast and Permaform systems for manhole rehab and its CentriPipe system for large diameter pipe lining. We never take for granted all that we have been given and we never stop looking for ways to improve ourselves and our industry.


I attribute some of this success to NASSCO. In a sense, NASSCO is like an accountability group. The people who persevere are the ones who work hard and NASSCO has done an excellent job of preserving that principle through the development of standards and strong committee involvement.

I believe one of the reasons NASSCO continues to make such an incredible impact on our industry is because their mission to set standards is as relevant today as it was 40 years ago. It is a beacon of light for the industry and I just hope it shines brighter and continues to attract the quality of people into its membership that it has historically attracted. If NASSCO can stay true to its mission, and do it selflessly, it will continue to stay relevant and grow. If NASSCO or its members become self-serving and lose sight of the mission it will collapse over time.

That being said, I have high hopes for the future of NASSCO. We are standing on the shoulders of ground-breaking leaders who went before us. As the new generation of members move in, the founding principles must be shared in order to persevere. It has worked for 40 years now and I know it will only get better.

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