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How does water get from the Ogallala Aquifer to your house or irrigation? Sargent Irrigation has a lot to do with that, which is why the Discovery Channel filmed an episode of "How It's Made" recently at Sargent Pipe Company.
The episode, which will air next year, will not only touch on the water process, but how Sargent Irrigation Company is intricately involved from manufacturing pumps to how they're installed.
Former Neligh resident Mike Whitesel serves as president of Sargent Irrigation and Drilling Company and Sargent Pipe Company, both based in Broken Bow.
The Whitesel family has had full ownership of the companies since 1979 and has eight irrigation/drilling locations in Nebraska and Iowa, including Neligh, where the third generation of the family is involved in operations.
“We are excited to work with the Discovery Channel and educate people about where their water comes from and how it is pumped from the ground,” Brian Whitesel said. “It’s an important part of daily life, and Sargent Irrigation Company is proud to be one of the largest privately owned water well drilling companies in the world.”
Sargent Pipe Company manufactures highly efficient turbine pumps that are entirely American made. Luke Wassom, who manages Sargent Pipe Company, said while other companies are outsourcing to other countries to cut costs, Sargent is committed to competing with higher quality and speed, which has kept the company at the top of the market.
Wassom said the “How It’s Made” crew spent two days filming last month. He said an open house spurred the idea last November when local Chamber representatives toured the facility. The Discovery Channel had reached out to the state about filming an episode, and Wassom said the Broken Bow Chamber initiated the contact after being amazed by the automation and production taking place at Sargent Pipe Company.
“I spoke to producer Tom Bauer about filming and told him we could make a great show,” Wassom said. “We made a sample DVD of what the show could be like. From there, they set up two days of filming for the episode.”
Wassom said they planned to film well drilling in Geneva, but the weather didn’t cooperate, forcing the shoot indoors. But Wassom said that worked out well as crews filmed the manufacturing aspect in great detail.
“It was a lot of fun. You wouldn’t think two days of filming would be that exhausting, but it was,” he said. “We only filmed about an hour of clips in two days. Most of the time was spent on lighting, getting the angles right and putting different tints to the light.”
Wassom said filming concentrated on the manufacturing plant, installing the pump in the ground and pumping water.
“This was a great experience for us and for Sargent Pipe Company,” Wassom said. “It’s great for the whole world to see how pumps are manufactured. We’re excited to have this program seen around the world.”
The episode of "How It's Made" will be recorded in multiple languages and shown in nearly 200 countries sometime next year.