About Learn from the Unexpected

We’ve all been there. A project’s going well, it’s on time and on budget. But then you encounter something unexpected: an abandoned line or indications of an unmarked line. What steps do you take to keep the project on track?

We want to hear from you about these situations. We want to hear about a time when you experienced the unexpected and how it was resolved.

By sharing our stories, we can work smarter and safer, and we can help the industry grow.

Tell us how you learned from the unexpected today.

Learn From the Unexpected with Jason Ponciano of Vannguard Utility Partners

Jason Ponciano, Minnesota State Manager at Vannguard Utility, discusses the importance of white lining and how it can impact both the locating process and your overall project. Read the full interview with Jason and learn more about the importance of white lining on Gopher State One Call.

A.J. Clark, Badger Infrastructure Solutions

A.J. Clark, locating solutions manager at Badger Infrastructure Solutions, discusses the value of using Meet Notifications (commonly known as “Meet Tickets”) for large-scale projects that will be completed over time. Read the full interview with A.J. and learn more about how you can benefit from using Meet Tickets on the Gopher State One Call website.

Eric Kolcinski, CenterPoint Energy

Eric Kolcinski, damage prevention coordinator for CenterPoint Energy, reminds excavators (both professionals and homeowners) to avoid the unexpected by knowing what to do in case of damage to a buried utility. Read the full interview with Eric and learn more about how you can be prepared if a damage occurs on the Gopher State One Call website.

Christopher Koch, ZoneOne Locating

Christopher Koch, damage prevention educator and president of ZoneOne Locating, reminds Minnesota property owners to avoid the unexpected by making one more important call after contacting 811—to a private facility locator. Read the full interview with Christopher and learn more about how you can protect your home’s private facilities on the Gopher State One Call website.

Gopher State One Call is now accepting submissions for its Learn from the Unexpected video series. Winners will be featured in an online video — complete with an epic entrance — and receive a $200 Visa gift card that they can use for anything from a new pair of work boots to a much-deserved dinner out. Winners will also earn the honorary title of Damage Prevention Influencer.

If your story is not selected, you will still be entered to win a $50 Duluth Trading Co. gift card.

Submit Your Story

Example Story 

We were working on a project to replace a country road. We soon found indications of an unmarked gas line as our machine graded the edge of the road. We’d found that over time, as the road shoulder had been continually scraped down and reworked, the once-deeply buried line was now incredibly shallow. Luckily, the line was not hit, but we placed temporary warning signs as a precaution while we waited for the gas company to come out and assess the line. We were able to complete the project on time, and the gas company opted to have those lines rerouted before any future construction to avoid further damages.


Who is eligible?
Anyone working in the excavation or utility construction industry is welcome to nominate themselves or a fellow colleague to submit their story.
What is Learn from the Unexpected?
We’re looking for stories in which something surprising or unexpected occurred while working on a jobsite, and the steps taken to resolve the issue. Examples include indications of an unmarked utility line or a possible abandoned line. The goal is to share our experiences so that we can all work smarter, work safer, work more efficiently and help the industry grow.
My story was selected. What happens next?
By sharing your experience, you will be recognized as an industry leader, earning you the honorary title of Damage Prevention Influencer on Facebook. GSOC will send a film crew to interview your story and film your very own slow-motion dramatic entrance. This video will have a permanent home on the GSOC Facebook page for all to see and share. We’ll also throw in a free pair of Red Wing work boots for your efforts.
My story was not selected. Do I still get something?
To encourage entries, we’re also hosting a giveaway drawing. Whether or not your story is selected for filming, you will be entered to win a $50 gift card to Duluth Trading Co. Three winners will be selected for this prize.
How do I submit a nomination?
Submit a nomination via the online form.
What information do I need to submit a nomination?
You should have the following ready to go to complete the nomination form:
  • Your/the nominee’s full name, phone number, email address, current job position and company information.
  • Basic information regarding the day of the event: what happened, how it was resolved, etc.