Previous Pipeline Leadership Award Winners
2016 Winner: Pat Michels, Michels Corporation
Pat Michels has guided Michels Corporation’s ascension in the North American oil and gas pipeline industry, steering its advancement during economic boom and recession. Since Pat became president in 1998, Michels has expanded from seven operational divisions to 18. In the past decade, Michels has climbed from the 93rd to 34th largest contractor and No. 1 pipeline contractor in the U.S. Under Pat’s leadership, Michels has assembled a team that constructs some of the largest transmission projects in North America and stands out in the industry for diversity with stations, integrity management, pipe fabrication and distribution pipeline teams. In all, Michels has nine divisions that influence the gas and oil industry.
Pat has created a culture in which excellence is expected. One example is Michels’ position among the most highly regarded HDD contractors in the world. Along the way to achieving records, Michels has provided customers with possibilities for safe construction of pipelines in areas that would otherwise be considered impossible. In the same vein, Michels has embraced Direct Pipe technology, pushing its limits beyond initial expectations.
Pat is a champion of safety and quality, supporting Michels’ full-time, dedicated safety, environmental and quality control programs, which were among the industry’s first. Whenever possible, Pat visits rights of way and leads JSA meetings.
Pat and his family also vigorously support the communities in which Michels operates and in the industries it serves. This includes the Dale R. and Ruth L. Michels Family Foundation, Dale Michels Center for Heart Care and Michels Scholarship Fund.
2015 Winner: Chuck Shafer, NiSource Inc.
As vice president of engineering, projects and construction, Chuck Shafer has been an integral part of a major capital improvement and modernization program to update NiSource Inc.’s natural gas system, which serves approximately 3.5 million customers across seven states.
In 2007, NiSource began the discussion for the modernization program, which officially turned dirt for the first time in 2008. One of the things that make the program a success is a strong and consistent message from NiSource leadership that allows Shafer and his team and all of the partners to look at the long-term big picture.
NiSource invests approximately $1.4 billion a year on energy infrastructure improvements between its gas and electric customers. The overarching goal is to meet and improve upon the utility’s customer commitments for the next 100 years. During the 20-plus year modernization program, NiSource expects to spend $20 billion on its gas system. In 2006, the system had 40,471 miles of distribution pipeline and 334 miles of transmission class pipeline, of which, 8,000 miles was bare steel, cast iron pipe.
The company tackled its highest risk facilities first and since the program’s inception, NiSource has been able to reduce its priority pipe (bare steel, cast iron) from comprising 21 percent of its system to 15 percent.
What makes Shafer and NiSource leaders in the industry is the rapid growth and current size of its capital improvement and modernization program, the innovations they are applying in planning, design, procurement and construction. Particularly, the collaboration and integration with construction service partners—with emphasis on “partners.”