Bruce Rose, Executive Director of Manitoba Customer Contact Association, 10 Best Inspiring Leaders of 2023

David L. Wickersham
President, CEO & Founder of Progressive Pipeline Management

Bruce Rose, Executive Director of Manitoba Customer Contact Association

Embrace every unexpected challenge

Just over twenty-two years ago, David L. Wickersham, the President and Founder of Progressive Pipeline Management (PPM), was asked to assist with a gas pipeline project in Philadelphia that required removing oil and potential PCBs from agas pipeline. This was to assist in the project deploying the newStarline® Cured-In-Place Lining (CIPL) trenchless technology to renew aleaking 20-inch natural gas main in center city.

This was David’s first look at this new and emerging technology. A little over a year later, in August of 2002, he formed PPM and obtained an exclusive license for theStarline® technology in the United States. The Licensor and inventor of the technology is the Karl Weiss Company headquartered in Berlin, Germany.

At the beginning, the main concern was whether or not the gas industry would embrace the lining technology and take advantage of its ability to fix old gas mains made of cast iron or steel. The first decade was dedicated to expanding the research and testing the technology, making adjustments, and working with the Nation’s largest natural gas companies for use within their distribution pipeline network. As the team invested in understanding the technology's capabilities, limitations, andprospective uses, they validated and improved its opportunities. This risk eventually paid off as years of testing showed promising outcomes. To date, the industry has invested over $15 million dollars in testing the Starline technology.

As a leader, David needs to set the pace of their drive for continued growth and achievement. Concurrently, however, they stay open to ideas and welcome feedback and input from employees, clients, and partners. For David, there are always new challenges and no project is the same. At every stage of a project, they deal with changing conditions and unforeseen obstacles above and below ground. Time and again, solutions to the most urgent and critical situations emerge when they get together to listen and work through ideas.

The company values trust and transparency and has a team of loyal employees. They are proud of their high employee retention rate and the opportunities for growth and promotion. Many employees have progressed within the company and now have children attending college.

David explains that the infrastructure industry is constantly changing and evolving. On the natural gas side, there are positive shifts happening as the industry focuses on eliminating dangerous leaks and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. PHMSA (Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration), a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), enabled the PIPES Act of 2020 which requires pipeline operators to address methane emissions and replace or repair “leak prone pipes”. By rehabilitating these pipelines with Starline CIPL, greenhouse gas emissions can be virtually eliminated. The 100-year service life of the liner is a more cost-effective method to fix leaks and provides long-term benefits. It not only addresses identified leaks but also eliminates unidentified ones. All this with providing a 40% or greater cost reduction over traditional open-cut replacement.

With the emergence of the PIPES Act, many natural gas utilities are looking to employ more lining to remedy infrastructure leaks. PPM provides a cost-effective solution to leak prone pipe that not only saves money but provides environmental benefits as well.

They have developed long-standing partnership with their clients, predominantly the largest gas utility companies in the nation. Their clients understand the technology and have worked with PPM to develop the rigorous testing protocols of the Starline process. This collaboration offers gas system engineering, construction, excavation, safety, and pipeline restoration knowledge from over a century. It also has led to some very challenging projects over the years. For example, PPM lined a 42” gas main in New Jersey in 2020, setting a world record for rehabilitation of the largest natural gas pipeline worldwide. More 42” work is planned for 2024 in Baltimore and Boston. Large diameter gas pipelines are the company’s sweet spot where the technology provides the largest financial and environmental savings.

In addition to the large diameter pipelines, Starline is particularly cost-effective and environmentally friendly for bridge, railroad and river crossing as well as highly congested urban areas, right of ways, highways, and rivers. New technologies are being tested to shorten cure times and gas shut-offs. Pipe renewal technology for roof drains, stormwater, and utility infrastructure in facilities and campuses is also being offered by PPM.

PPM's Cured-In-Place-Lining projects benefit from utility and construction contractor collaboration and knowledge. As many of PPM's engineers were former gas company employees, they understand their clients’ challenges and processes.These relationships, 20 years and growing, have been invaluable. They also showcase the industry’s dedication to addressing aging infrastructure while also managing methane emissions with an environmentally friendly solution.

The company is expanding its use of trenchless technology beyond natural gas and is making progress.Their facilities division is providing trenchless pipeline renewal services for universities, hospitals, high rise buildings and facilities. Utilizing new smaller diameter technologies with Mini LED lights for rapid curing allows forrenewal of vertical roof drains and stormwater pipes with minimal disruption and at a much lower costs over traditional replacement.

The market for pipeline construction is currently valued at $45.7 billion and is expected to grow to $73.1 billion by 2030. Subsequently, David will investigate and buy customer-valued productivity tools. PPM will research and test innovative technology to increase profits, productivity, and customer value. Additionally, they will test and implement robotics, CCTV cameras, and data monitoring innovations. As they expand into telecom and facilities, employee retention will always remain the key. Its 20-year-old culture of collaboration, hard work, friendship, and rewards makes their team and clients proud.

The company stands out in the industry for its highly skilled utility and gas experts, who helped them gain the trust of utilities nationwide. While some in the industry are hesitant about this technology, they are becoming more receptive as they recognize its benefits. With a strong pedigree of over 20 years, the company is dedicated to continuously improving their work processes and fostering trust with their clients.


Progressive Pipeline Management


David L. Wickersham
President, CEO & Founder
Progressive Pipeline Management


Progressive Pipeline Management is a full service contractor and team of highly skilled infrastructure renewal specialists. The company has been been committed to improving the safety and longevity of pipeline infrastructure since the company’s inception in 2002.

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