“Why Komatsu? Because of the success we have with them.”
For twelve years, Titan Technologies, Inc. has
been the go-to utility contractor in Idaho for
pipe-bursting. Roger Thompson and his wife,
Mary Pat, started Titan in 2003, largely because
Roger wanted a construction-related field that
“I had a pretty diverse construction
background that included heavy civil highway
work and crushing,” he recalled. “In looking to
start my own business, one thing I noticed was
that a lot of guys struggled because they had to
shut down in the winter. A friend introduced
me to pipe-bursting. Since I knew it could be
done year-round, I was interested. I also knew
a handful of people who would work for me,
plus Mary Pat had a great background in
finance and accounting. So, when we decided to
start a utility contracting business, I wanted it to
Pipe-bursting isn’t new. It’s been around
since the 1970s, but it’s fast becoming a major
contender for rehabbing sewer and water
pipes. It’s only used for jobs that require the
existing pipe be replaced, not new construction.
The process includes digging insertion and exit
pits near manholes, then pulling or pounding
fusion-welded, high-density polyethylene pipe
through the existing pipe, “bursting” it so that the
fractured pieces disperse into the surrounding
Advantages of pipe-bursting are that it is less
intrusive and often safer than traditional open-cut
pipe replacement. According to Thompson, it’s
also faster and cheaper in many instances.
“Open-cut requires more trucking, manpower,
bedding and asphalt. Pipe-bursting eliminates
a lot of that. Start to finish, we can do a typical
350-foot segment with 15-20 lateral tie-ins in
about two-and-a-half days. Doing the same job
in a traditional open-cut method could easily
take five to six days, so we can usually complete
a rehab job in about half the time using pipebursting,
and it’s often 25 to 30 percent cheaper.
The savings in time and money can be substantial.
“The technology is ideal when working in
confined spaces,” he added. “There are a lot of
older neighborhoods in Boise where sewer lines
are behind houses in narrow, gravel alleys. There
are normally other utilities in those areas – phone,
gas, TV – which makes open-cut difficult. We do
very well with those jobs.”
So, with all the advantages, why isn’t pipebursting
“Some engineers aren’t all that familiar with
it, so they’re more comfortable with open-cut,”
said Thompson. “Everybody already has the
equipment to do open-cut pipe work, but not
many have pipe-bursting technology. Fortunately,
we can go either way. Although pipe-bursting
is probably 80 percent of our workload in any
given year, we also do open-cut. We think being
able to do both is a significant advantage
because it means we can do whatever is most
advantageous for the customer.”
Public and private jobs
Headquartered in Boise, Titan Technologies
has two crews and about 10 employees. Most
of the company’s jobs are public works projects
for the City of Boise and other municipalities in
Idaho and eastern Oregon. While those public
projects are common, Thompson says some
of the most gratifying jobs are for individual
“We recently did a job for a customer who
had a problem with her sewer service. The pipe
ran from her basement and under her patio,
pool and garage to the alley. We used pipebursting
to replace the sewer line and were
able to complete the project for about $6,500.
The other quotes she received, which required
cutting through her floor, ranged from $14,000
to $18,000. She was ecstatic about our price.
“We had a similar story where a homeowner
paid a contractor something like $15,000 to
repair a sewer line four years ago, but it still
wasn’t right,” he added. “We went under their
garage and under some old trees to burst and
replace the line for $3,500 – and we completed
the job in a day and a half. Being able to
complete jobs like those makes us feel really
good about what we do because we know our
customers appreciate it.”
Thompson says Titan bids the public work, but
many of the private jobs are referred his way.
“It’s a lot of word-of-mouth advertising from
satisfied customers. The city even promotes
us to an extent. If a homeowner calls the city
to complain about a problem, but it’s not
something the city is responsible for, it will often
refer them to us.”
To be able to successfully complete projects,
Thompson relies heavily on key personnel,
including Office Manager Cliff Cox and Field
Superintendent Brian Jones.
“We have good crews, plus Cliff and Brian
are very hands-on,” he said. “If something
needs to be done, they don’t hesitate to pitch
in. Neither do I. Actually, I prefer being in the
field more than in the office.”
Komatsu excavators and Modern support
To do its pipe-bursting and open-cut work,
Titan Technologies has a fleet of nine Komatsu
hydraulic excavators, ranging from a PC18 to
a PC360. The excavators include four compact
machines and three other tight-tail-swing units.
The company also has two Komatsu wheel
loaders – a WA320 and a WA250.
“We have excavators that range from
1 to 40 tons, which gives us a lot of flexibility
regarding jobs we can bid,” said Thompson.
“Why Komatsu? Because of the success we
have with them. They’re reliable, economical,
comfortable and easy to operate.
“Everybody knows about the full-sized
Komatsu excavators and how good they are –
it’s the minis that may surprise some people,”
he added. “With the blade and the boom
articulation – they’re amazing. Fast. Powerful.
Efficient. Since we’re often in tight quarters, we
love them for their maneuverability compared to
a backhoe. We can put them right in the middle
of a segment and as soon as the main is in, they
start digging almost immediately. We put five
gallons of diesel in, and they go all day. The PC40
and PC50 are great machines and are absolutely
key pieces in pipe-bursting.”
Productive equipment is important to Titan
Technologies. Equally important is dealer support.
“When I started, I solicited equipment bids from
the top dealers in the area,” Thompson recalled.
“Modern had a good quote and I knew Komatsu
was quality equipment, so that’s where we
started. We’ve never had a reason to leave. The
equipment has performed and so has Modern.
It’s been a great relationship. My Sales Rep, Ryan
Rowbury, is top-notch. What I like best is that he
always answers his phone. He never leaves us
hanging, and he’s always able to get us what we
“We also appreciate the ease of working with
Komatsu Financial,” he added. “They have great
rates. There’s never any early payoff penalty.
They make financing a breeze. I’ve tried to use
my personal bank to finance equipment, but they
can’t come close to what we get from Modern and
A cost-effective “solutions provider”
Titan Technologies has grown through the years.
It’s not a large company, but Thompson says
that’s by design.
“I never wanted to get too big. It just doesn’t
interest me. I’m hands-on. I like to always
know what we’re doing and have a handle on
the business. Scheduling is easier, and we can
pick and choose projects rather than bidding
everything that comes along. We only do jobs
that interest us and that we can make money on.
We also don’t travel very much. We could go
anywhere in the region – Oregon, Washington,
Montana, Nevada – and eventually, we might.
But at this point, I’m in no big hurry to do that.
“Frankly, I’m comfortable with where we are
and what we’re doing,” Thompson added. “One
of my primary satisfactions of owning a business
is being able to provide a good job for my
employees. Plus, the work itself still interests me.
Each job presents specific challenges and there’s
a sense of accomplishment when you overcome
those issues. Most of all, I enjoy being a costeffective
‘solutions provider’ for our customers.
We offer something different that has some
distinct advantages. It’s very gratifying when our
skills match up with people’s needs.”