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Breaking the mould in trenchless

Breaking trenchless mould

From job management to procurement, R&R McClure Excavations general manager Kelly McClure is adamant: trenchless is much more than being on the tools. 

When Kelly first started dating her now husband Tim McClure, little did she know where she would go within the trenchless industry.   

“Dating a guy in the trenchless or civil industry, you always get wrapped up in doing what they do, especially on the weekend,” she said.

Based in Castlemaine, Bendigo and Mildura, Victoria, R&R McClure Excavations specialises in the installation of underground power, water and communication for utilities, government, trades, and private enterprise. 

R&R McClure also has an extensive horizontal directional drilling (HDD) capability and is used by the company as it is a way to eliminate disturbance to the environment, cultural and socially sensitive sites. 

After five years of dating, Kelly was asked by Tim’s father Robert McClure to join the family business, which she had already been a part of by working on the company’s accounts. 

Now, 25 years later, her role as general manager crosses a wide spectrum of duties. 

“My day starts with making sure that all of our 48 workers have their jobs, equipment and all the knowledge to go out and succeed to their working days,” she said. 

“I oversee all the management of the jobs, I cover HR and employment, admin contracts as well as equipment procurement.” 

For Kelly, being held in a management position in a male dominated industry breaks the mould. 

“It’s showing that women can actually do the things that men do,” she said. 

“The traditional sense of trenchless is a whole lot more than sitting on the drill.” 

Breaking trenchless mould
R&R McClure specialises in the installation of underground power, water and communication. Image: R&R McClure

This is also seen through her management on through various projects such as the Rapid Earth Fault Current Limiters (REFCL) project, which saw the company bore 40km between 2019 and 2021. 

“There were kilometres of dealing with bush fire mitigation areas and we made sure we had all the pipes and cables were in the ground in time for the bushfire season to come along,” she said. 

“Some of these areas were in dense bushland while others were in areas where they had a lot of native vegetation so, to be able to complete all of that with trenchless and minimal disruption to the ground was great.” 

When it comes to giving advice to women within the industry, Kelly said there’s endless opportunities within trenchless. 

“Some people define trenchless as being on the actual drills and drilling,” Kelly said. 

“Whereas in our workforce, we have six women in our workforce, one an engineer and another mechanical draftsperson and these are crucial roles within the trenchless industry.

“The whole trenchless world is more than what’s commonly perceived.” 

With over her 25 years of experience within the industry, Kelly said trenchless has come a long way and sees innovation coming through R&R McClure’s work. 

“From 1988 to 1996, the industry was about borers that were very manual to operate, had limited ability and were hard work on people,” she said. 

“During 1996 to 1999, we progressed to developing our own bed borers to limit the amount of manual handling on staff.

“Throughout the years from 2000 until now in 2024, we have seen the purchase of over 26 HDD drills and the progression of trenchless moving along in leaps and bounds being smarter and more savvy to the customers.”

For more information, visit R&R McClure’s website.

This article featured in the June edition of Trenchless Australasia. 

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