Working alongside long-time employees with his father managing the administrative side of things, the Glacier Drilling LLC family has grown. Two sons have joined the business as well as a family friend, Sam. With 11 team members, Glacier has evolved as a drilling business during its 25 years serving New England – from Maine to Pennsylvania.
Starting with one auger rig, the company has grown drastically to a fleet of two sonic rigs, five probes, and a couple rotary auger rigs focused primarily on environmental investigations with 25 percent geotechnical. The fleet had competitors commenting on maintenance overhead.
“I tell people if it has a grease fitting or an ignition switch it costs money in maintenance. But I want to set the industry standard for maintenance,” Mark Schock, owner, said. “We strive to have our rigs maintained and prepared to do work.”
He also strives to have the right tool for the job.
“What sets us apart from competitors is we have what you need to do the job, even if we’re not the cheapest,” Schock said. “We can enter wetlands, work in closets, or do bedrock investigations.”
Understanding the investment in workman's compensation insurance for drillers, Schock also works to stay ahead of the curve on safety standards.
“Evolving means staying up on technology and offering things that are safer. Our safety standards are driven by an Exxon Mobile contract we had years ago. Here we are 15 years later and those safety standards are now the norm,” Schock said. “That’s why the Geoprobe® rod-handling system and dual-tube systems are not only a better way to do the work, but a safer way to do it. It sets us apart from those not making that kind of investment.”
Schock got into sonic drilling sampling in 2008 after watching other contractors.
“Augering is destructive, displacing material with a tool by breaking or pushing it out of the way. Most of our drilling is in terminal marine geology, which is difficult to penetrate and unpredictable,” Schock said. “Sonic cores through the geology with the only thing displaced being the core we’re collecting that’s the size of the bit.”
While they considered other overseas sonic manufacturers, they decided to stay local when they entered the market by purchasing a Geoprobe® 8140LS.
“Given the current state of shipping raw goods, we’re fortunate we went local,” he said.
For Schock, having the rig and tooling designed by one manufacturer for their sonic drilling sampling is a huge benefit.
“Geoprobe® designs the rigs and tooling systems so it’s a comprehensive package. Everything we need is all designed to work together — one phone call, order, and I know it will be compatible,” Schock said. “I can’t imagine anyone else doing service better. I can pick up the phone and call to annoy Jed Davis, Joel Christy, or Mike Carlin and they’re happy to take the call.”
As demand for their services grew, they added an 8150LS for it’s capabilities to go deeper with larger casing thanks to the increased power. They also added the high-speed coring head for multi-use scenarios. Choosing 5-foot tooling sections because of the tight spaces in the city or wooded areas, they prefer the maneuverability it provides. And with the indexing rack and rod handler, they have added safety.
“The rod handler is a necessity as far as I’m concerned. It eliminates heavy lifting and the helper doesn’t have to hold tooling onto the head, which is a safety factor,” Schock said. “The Geoprobe® 4.5-inch HD rods are much more durable and can really handle a lot more rock, threading together easily.”
While Glacier doesn’t have to rely solely on sonic given the size of their fleet, sonic drilling has displaced some of the work they used to do with other equipment.
A recent job took them to Johns Island, formerly owned by boxer Gene Tunney and a frequent retreat for John F. Kennedy. Barging the 8150LS over, they drilled a half-dozen water wells easily navigating the wooded, rock areas thanks to the tracks.
“They needed a water supply but didn’t want to tap into brackish water, so we did a series of bedrock wells. We drilled 225-foot to install permanent casing in shallow overburden,” Schock said. “We used 10-inch casing, then grouted in permanent 8-inch casing. The hydrologist wanted to present cores to the USGS, so we also did 6-inch cores for study.”
Several engineering features on the 8150LS stand out to Schock for increasing production and preserving the rig.
“Using the wireline winches to pull inner core barrels expedites production by eliminating breaking down the outer tooling each time we want to empty a core barrel,” Schock said. “The cold-weather, pre-heat option slowly warms hydraulics before it transfers to the sonic head, limiting premature excessive wear on the sonic head.”
These features, combined with the user-friendly control panel consistent with the other Geoprobe® rigs they own, have helped their sonic drilling sampling business surge to 50-70 percent of their work. Their confidence in sonic sets them up for another successful 25 years of business.
“The sonic eliminates doubt of completing the borehole. We don’t worry about needing an alternate method to advance a borehole. We know we can meet the target,” Schock said.
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