“I was a sophomore in college majoring in business when my father called me about a job opportunity,” recalled Coleman, Owner of Mid-State Drilling LLC. “My father was in the quarry industry and knew about a dealer position where he believed I could double the business in a year. At the time, I was already married and had a daughter. After doing the math on the money I could make, I quit school and went to work.
“I started in the spring of 1962 with a three-quarter-ton pickup truck as a dealer for one of the local blasting companies,” continued Coleman. “I eventually purchased more equipment and started drilling water lines, basements, and any other business that came my way. It was just me drilling and blasting every day.”
Coleman received his contractor license in 1972 and began contract drilling. By 1978, he was able to purchase a larger machine and began blast hole drilling. In 2019, Coleman hired Stephen Crider as a General Manager to oversee Mid-State Drilling’s operations. Crider noted that the company has doubled in size since he joined. Today, there are approximately 100 employees between Mid-State Drilling and its sister company, Mid-State Construction.
“Our employees have been instrumental to our success over the years,” stated Crider. “They laid the foundation and allowed the business to grow. Most of the people we hire now come from the coal industry and are miners by trade. They understand what it takes to be successful in this industry. Our customers prefer to work with us because we don’t just sell blast holes, we sell service.”
“The geothermal system is an energy-efficient option for schools, nursing homes, or prisons,” explained Crider. “Normally, we drill a 5.5-inch bore hole 300 feet into the ground before installing a closed-loop system that continuously pumps fluid through the loop. The natural temperature gradient below the surface creates a heat exchange and allows you to heat or cool a building. Within five years, our customers pay for the geothermal system through cost savings compared to their previous system.”
To drill blast hole shots for a recent limestone quarry job, Mid-State Drilling used a different process.
“The quarry called us to complete a blast designed by a blasting company,” said Operator Emzy Williamson. “Based on the material and shelf, we vertically drilled 5.5-inch bore holes 45 feet deep in a specific pattern. Then, we added an extra 2 feet of depth to account for any material falling back into the hole when the drill is removed. Basically, if you’re wanting a depth of 45 feet, you need to drill 47 feet. Once all the holes are bored, the blasting material is loaded, and the shot is completed.”
The firm utilizes a fleet of six Epiroc FlexiROC D60 Surface Drill Rigs to complete its quarry blasting and drilling projects. The D60 uses a down-the-hole (DTH) drilling method to create holes with diameters of 4.3 to 7 inches and maximum depths of 182 feet.
“The D60 drill is the best drill for our application because it’s tracked and can access uneven terrain,” said Crider. “It gives us a wide variety of hole sizes for drill stripping or drill production. On average, we can drill up to 3 feet per minute.
“We’ve tried other brands of drills, but the D60 outperforms the competition,” continued Crider. “It has faster production, quicker hydraulics and is dependable. The machine gives us the flexibility to access any location safely and work reliably.”
Williamson added, “There are a lot of helpful safety features built into the drill. If you’re inside the cab and get out of your seat and hit the rod changer button, the machine will drill the current rod down without doing anything else. If you had to get out of the cab while the machine was running, it would only drill 16 feet then blow air. If you hit a crack while drilling, the machine has an automatic jam. There are a lot of features that keep operators safe, especially inexperienced drillers.”
Transportability is also an important factor because Mid-State Drilling works with multiple quarries and frequently moves its D60s between locations.
“The size of the D60 drills is excellent,” said Crider. “They’re small enough to fit on a lowboy and easy to move around. That gives us access to any location our customers need us.”
“Before Power Equipment took over, we were constantly battling with Stacy about parts availability,” said Coleman. “Since the transition to Power Equipment, we’ve had virtually no problems. They keep an inventory of parts that maximizes our uptime and limits downtime.
“If something goes wrong, it’s one phone call and we’re back up within the hour,” added Crider. “Anytime we need something, Power Equipment is there for us. We have a great relationship with them and know that Stacy will take care of us.”
Mid-State Drilling works closely with Lynn to keep its fleet of D60s updated.
“Our goal is to keep the drills under 6,000 hours and replace one per year,” said Crider. “We do that to provide our customers the best service. By purchasing and maintaining quality equipment, we can limit delays and keep them on schedule.”
“Tennessee passed a law in 2006, the year Carol founded the Ollie the Otter program, and it merges safety in cars and the construction industry,” Coleman said. “The orange barrel used for safety on job sites is exactly 4 feet, 9 inches. Children under that height must be in a booster seat. It’s an easy and helpful way to keep our kids safe while driving.”