As WC Fields once said, “It ain’t what they call you, it’s what you answer to.” The newly christened Nulca was originally established in 1994 as the National Utility Locating Contractors Association (NULCA). At that time, the group of underground utility locating contract companies that formed NULCA “answered to” the needs of individual contract locators and facilitated the promotion of underground utility locating industry advancement throughout North America.

Over the past 23 years, however, much has happened in the utility locating sector, and NULCA’s relatively narrow purpose has significantly widened. Due to unfolding industry trends, the concerns of contract locators have become inextricably intertwined with those of facility owners who perform underground utility locating functions in-house. The industry also supports professional partnerships with excavating contractors, pipeline suppliers, vacuum excavation specialists, One Call system operators, surveyors, regulators, developers, and the manufacturers of GPS locating technology and electromagnetic equipment.

Reflecting the Expanding Industry

To reflect the expanding and evolving nature of the underground utility locating industry, the National Utility Locating Contractors Association NULCA has officially changed its name to Nulca – Underground Utility Locating Professionals. This similar but significantly altered name not only more accurately reflects contemporary industry realities but also more accurately represents Nulca’s diverse membership base.

In short, any professional leader or organization with a stake in the science or business of underground utility locating has long been encouraged to join Nucla…and they have long been doing so! In fact, individual contract locators now account for a relatively small percentage of Nulca’s total membership.

The Seeds of this Name Change Were Planted Long Ago

The seeds of Nulca’s name change can be traced back to the earliest days of the organization. Within its first two years of operation, Nulca experienced membership growth that included associations and committees from a range of other industries that seek to mitigate utility damages, prevent accidents, and improve general communication capabilities. These efforts led Nulca to publish the Competence Standards for Locating Professionals in 1996. Now in its fifth edition, this document continues to demonstrate Nulca’s advocacy for exceptional training and professional consistency across the underground utility locating industry as a whole.

The Role of the Competence Standards for Locating Professionals

Widely recognized as a standard-bearing text, the Competence Standards for Locating Professionals now serves as the basis for the recently-established Nulca Accreditation/Certification program. Launched in March of 1996, this program is designed to help industry stakeholders such as contractors, regulators, and facility owners ensure that all underground locating professionals under their employ or jurisdiction are fully trained and entirely competent.

Nulca established its Accreditation/Certification program in response to demands that have been growing for well over a decade. In an effort to promote full transparency and accountability, Nulca partnered with NSF International – a product testing, inspection, and certification organization that operates in a broad spectrum of industries that face issues related to public health and safety. Through its wholly owned subsidiary NSF International Strategic Registrations (NSF-ISR), NSF International continues to provide program qualified and objective third-party review for all Nulca member training materials and programs. The NSF-ISR ensures that these materials and programs promote full compliance with all relevant Nulca Competence Standards.

A Nod to Damage Prevention and Public Safety

In addition to reflecting Nulca’s ever-widening membership base and its ongoing expansion into the realms of training and compliance, the recent name change reflects the organization’s involvement with a variety of damage prevention initiatives and its partnerships with underground infrastructure locators, facility owners, utility operators, excavators, and other professionals with an interest in damage prevention and public safety. Nulca also partners with regulatory organizations and industrial groups at the local, state, and national levels.

Nulca has participating members on all committees of the Common Ground Alliance (CGA) and maintains a lasting and productive relationship with the United States Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). To engender damage prevention and safety efforts among its diverse membership base, Nulca grants all of its members immediate access to a proprietary national legislative monitoring database. By following proposed legislation and pending bills in a range of state and federal legislative bodies, this database gives Nulca members the power to publicly voice their concerns and advocate for effective industry safety practices.

The Nitty Gritty of the Name Change

In light of Nulca’s widespread and diverse advocacy, compliance, and training efforts, both within the core underground utility locating industry and beyond, the organization’s Board of Directors recognized an urgent need for a name change. However, it was also aware of the extensive industry disturbance and administrative nuisances that a complete name change could cause. As a result, the Board opted to retain the essential “Nulca” brand, while divorcing it from all associated connotations with the defunct National Utility Locating Contractors Association. In short, Nulca is no longer an acronym, but rather a generic name that is concretely defined by its attendant tag line “representing utility locating professionals.” While subtle, Nulca feels that this name change is both significant and necessary.

As a member of Nulca, Underground Services, Inc., (SoftDig) supports the organization’s recent name change as a way to more accurately reflect its ever-widening membership base and operational projects. Named in honor of its unique non-destructive vacuum excavation process, SoftDig is a professional utility locating and subsurface utility engineering (SUE) company that provides a full suite of services throughout much of the United States.

For more information about these services and SoftDig’s ongoing partnership with Nulca, contact a qualified underground utility locating professional today at (610) 738-8762 or use our online estimate request form.

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