A prominent Midwest utility line locating company is settling into a new district office in downtown Storm Lake, expanding its office space in town in hopes of seeing similar growth in its future business in the region.
Great Plains Locating Service (GPLS), an underground utility locating company based out of Omaha, has moved its district office in Storm Lake from the Colonial Arcade into a building in the 200 block of E. Railroad St. in downtown Storm Lake. GPLS is renting the front portion of the building from Denny Kessler, who is using the rear portion of the structure for storage.
GPLS, which has 500 employees in nine states across the central United States, has had a district office in Storm Lake for the past five years, and district manager Mark Shadlow said the new location has been beneficial for the Iowa satellite center.
"It's given us more room," Shadlow said. "It's allowed us to have more equipment in here and has given us space to have some storage for supplies too."
Shadlow manages 75 people out of the Storm Lake office, which assists more than 80 companies and cooperatives from northwest and north-central Iowa, Minnesota and South Dakota. Those clients include companies such as USWest, Qwest, PrairieWave, Alliant Energy and McLeodUSA and cooperatives such as Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative.
Founded in 1994, GPLS provides a number of services designed to prevent damage to underground utilities that could affect individuals and businesses. Those services include gas leak detection, drop repair, facility stand-by supervision, splicing of lines, warning sign placement, cathodic protection readings, engineering support and disaster recovery assistance.
Field locaters use a variety of different machines and equipment to do their job of locating electrical, cable and phone lines, water and sewer pipes, and fiber optic wires.
"We use laptops in all of our jobs, as they can hook up to data from items such as map viewers which show where the different lines underground are," Shadlow said. "There is also a lot of remote printing that is required for clients, so it's definitely a technologically-based service."
Shadlow has a variety of duties in his position, including managing the day-to-day operations of the entire tri-state area. He spends about three days a week driving to different sites, and spends the rest of his 60-plus-hour workweek in the Storm Lake office fielding phone calls and helping field operators and businesspeople.
Shadlow said the GPLS business is important because it helps prevent damage from digging into wires or pipes that could be costly both in terms of dollars to replace equipment and the loss of services to residential and commercial customers.