February 2024 Vol. 79 No. 2


Annual MVP awards luncheon to be held March 19 at UIC

Russ Ford, a senior associate at Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam Inc. (LAN), will be honored as the underground infrastructure industry’s Most Valuable Professional (MVP) at a special luncheon on March 19, 2024, at the Oklahoma City Convention Center.

Russ Ford

Held in conjunction with the annual Underground Infrastructure Conference (UIC), the award is co-sponsored by the Underground Construction Technology Association (UCTA) and Underground Infrastructure magazine.   

Ford is a noted infrastructure expert. In his career he has made countless friendships while proving invaluable in helping solve critical problems for a host of cities around the country. 

Residing near the Bryan, Texas, area, he has a 41-year career of progressive engineering, supervisory/managerial, and administrative/executive experience involving the various aspects of municipal planning, operations, design, construction and management, in the water/wastewater transportation and treatment, stormwater drainage and raw water transmission segments.  

About Ford, Gary Oradat, executive manager, planning, design and construction administration for the Trinity Water Authority and previous MVP awardee (2022), said, “Russ was involved with UCT at its very beginning. It’s hard to think of anyone who has been more involved in advocating for new (and better) pipeline products and construction methods which, at the time, were considered innovative.  

“His recognition as MVP is more than deserving and I extend my sincerest congratulations for this honor.”  

Robert Carpenter, editor-in-chief of Underground Infrastructure magazine, recently made the MVP announcement on behalf of UCTA and the magazine. 

“When I get calls or questions from people around the industry facing perplexing issues or challenges, I never hesitate to recommend they get in touch with Russ,” said Carpenter. “Even if he couldn’t provide an immediate solution, he made sure he connected them with someone that could. He has a reputation with communities in many states as being a solution provider and a true friend in helping them solve their challenges. 

“Not only has Russ been invaluable in aiding municipalities accomplish great things with their projects, but he has also been a significant driver and supporter of the UCTA.”  


Ford graduated from Texas A&M University with a degree in construction science. From the start of his career, he envisioned a world of serving communities, building quality infrastructure, safeguarding clients’ best interests and championing a culture of excellence. 

“Russ has always had a vision to build and change infrastructure for the better,” said Wayne Swafford, president of LAN. “He actively participates in the company’s business development. He sees the benefits of innovative solutions for an extensive range of civil engineering projects. He’s played an influential role in making sure we’re delivering the best water and wastewater treatment plants, water storage facilities, and pump stations, among other high-profile projects.” 

Ford’s expertise is not just confined to the construction site; he is an expert in piping materials, a skill honed through both hands-on construction projects and strategic sales of pipe products.  

“His deep understanding and practical knowledge of various materials have positioned him well in our industry,” added Steve Gilbreath, LAN’s chief operating officer. “He’s a trusted advisor, ensuring that every project he touches meets and even exceeds expectations.” 

At the heart of Ford’s work is his unwavering commitment to his clients. He possesses a proven ability to deliver cost-effective solutions without compromising on quality, ensuring that every dollar spent is an investment towards long-lasting and reliable infrastructure.  

“As a colleague,” Gilbreath continued, “his leadership extends to his ability to recruit, direct and supervise a talented pool of design engineers, technicians, and consultants, fostering a collaborative and high-performing work environment.” 

Ford’s project portfolio is as diverse as it is impressive, featuring extensive infrastructure work with both municipalities and governmental agencies across Texas and beyond. Cities like Laredo, Galveston, Houston and numerous others bear the mark of his expertise, with projects that not only meet the needs of today but also lay a strong foundation for the future. 


A native of Waco, Texas, Ford served as president of the Board of the Gulf Coast Trenchless Association (predecessor to UCTA), and now serves as the South Texas chapter liaison to the National Board and is on the steering committee for the annual UIC event.  

Ford described his professional path as diverse, with direction from several industry leaders. “I began work as an engineer tech and loved surveying. I worked under industry experts, such as John Barton, building plants and he trained me to be an estimator of underground piping systems, which led to a career in the piping industry.” 

Ford continues to be an avid supporter of UCTA. “As president of the Gulf Coast Trenchless association in the 1990s, I worked with key people to envision UCTA as a national nonprofit to advance knowledge, support education and offer networking opportunities. UCTA currently has chapters in North Texas, Gulf Coast, Arizona, and South Texas. The association continues to grow in many directions,” he commented. 

Many people have influenced his career. “I would thank my mentors who I credit for my successful career. They include John Barton, Cleo Whitlock II, and Tony Boyd. The information they have taught me is invaluable,” he added. 

“My wife Vickie is my biggest cheerleader. I thank her for coaching me. Thank you to my friends, who have lifted me up on their shoulders and made me look really smart on occasion.” 

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