Vermeer launches HDD Circuit training program to meet demand for skilled drill operators

Updated Dec 10, 2015
Vermeer’s new HDD Circuit offers hands-on training to smal groups of students.Vermeer’s new HDD Circuit offers hands-on training to smal groups of students.

A shortage of skilled drill operators is not something Vermeer is taking lying down. Following the announcement of a partnership with its primary competitor, Ditch Witch, to recruit, train and deploy trenchless crews across the U.S., Vermeer has announced what it calls an “intensive” horizontal direction drill operator training program.

HDD Circuit topics include basic operation and drill maintenance.HDD Circuit topics include basic operation and drill maintenance.

Dubbed HDD Circuit, the tuition-based, two-week training program mixes classroom time with hands-on experience.

Instructors lead small groups of students through the following topics:

  • HDD safety
  • Jobsite evaluation and setup
  • Drill operation best practices
  • Basic drill maintenance and inspection
  • Underground utility locating and potholing best practices
  • Drilling fluid and mixing testing
  • Proper bore and pullback techniques (including the development of a bore plan

“We have heard a consistent message from underground contractors that they are having difficulty completing work due to a lack of qualified drill operators,” said Tony Bokhoven, Lifecycle training manager at Vermeer, in a release. “We are working to cultivate a pool of potential drill operators that will make HDD a career to help fill the positions available today and into the future.”

At the end of the program, students must pass a written test and a hands-on evaluation in order to receive a certificate of completion.

“We recognize that not every ground condition or every situation a drill operator may face in the field will be present during the training,” said Dave Wisniewski, vice president of underground products at Vermeer. “What we’re teaching them is how to fundamentally be an operator, so they start to know what to look for, what to feel for and how to properly handle situations.”

Vermeer says it will initially offer the program to underground contractors who then select employees to enroll. However, the company notes it is considering expanding the program to a broader audience including individuals who are simply interested in construction or those seeking a career change.

Those interested in the program are urged to contact their local Vermeer dealer or to contact Vermeer directly by sending an email to