LA “Audie” Smith, a Colorado drilling icon, founded LA Smith Drilling Company in 1980 to provide exploration drilling services for local mines. After Audie’s retirement, Audie’s son Darryl continued the family tradition by founding DA Smith Drilling in 1997. DA Smith Drilling developed a reputation as an expert, reliable, and cost-competitive core drilling company recognized throughout the Western U.S. mining industry.
In 2020, Leo J. Gilbride, P.E., P.Eng., Andrew Shaffer, P.E., and David Zaccardi acquired DA Smith Drilling Company. Up to April 2020, the group formerly managed and operated the Field Services (Drilling) Division of Agapito Associates, Inc. (AAI), a prominent mining engineering consulting firm headquartered in Grand Junction, Colorado. AAI’s Field Services Division primarily focused on underground core drilling, in situ stress measurements (overcoring), and installation of geomechanical (rock mechanics) instrumentation.
DA Smith acquired AAI Field Services and merged it into DA Smith Drilling in 2020. In addition to acquiring AAI’s specialty underground equipment, key AAI drilling and mechanical personnel joined DA Smith, thus preserving the complete operational capabilities of the former AAI division. The merger significantly expanded DA Smith’s qualifications by introducing underground drilling to the company’s mature surface/geotechnical drilling business.
DA Smith’s mission is to provide our clients standout drilling service that is cost-effective, reliable, safely executed, and well designed to fully satisfy each project’s objectives.
Mr. Gilbride is a civil and mining engineer with 25 years of consulting engineering experience on projects worldwide. He holds a B.S. (summa cum laude) in civil engineering from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, CA, and an M.S. in mining engineering from the Mackay School of Mines, University of Nevada, Reno. Mr. Gilbride was formerly Principal and Vice President of Agapito Associates, Inc. (AAI), where he served on the Board of Directors. In addition to his engineering consultancy, Mr. Gilbride managed AAI’s Field Services (Drilling) Division. After more than two decades, Mr. Gilbride left AAI to head DA Smith Drilling Company. Mr. Gilbride, along with Messrs. Shaffer and Zaccardi, spearheaded the effort to merge AAI Field Services into DA Smith in 2020.
Mr. Shaffer holds a B.S. (magna cum laude) in mining engineering from the Colorado School of Mines and an M.S. in mining engineering from the Missouri University of Science and Technology (formerly Missouri Rolla). He has a strong mechanical background and was a mechanic/fabricator on a professional auto race team prior to university. Between 2010 and 2020, Mr. Shaffer was part of Agapito Associates, Inc., where he managed the Field Services (Drilling) Division for six years and developed a broad client base extending across the civil and mining industries. Mr. Shaffer joined DA Smith in 2020 as Vice President and is responsible for the company’s surface and underground drilling operations.
Mr. Zaccardi is a journeyman core driller with more than 25 years’ diverse drilling experience and a wide-ranging skillset, including welder/blueprinting certification and MSHA Surface/Underground-Coal-Metal/Nonmetal experienced miner, Hazwoper, First Aid, CPR, and AED certification. He has been responsible for managing personnel, safety, maintenance, and inventory for a majority of his career. Mr. Zaccardi was a Senior Driller with Agapito Associates, Inc. between 2016 and 2020, following which he joined DA Smith as Drilling Superintendent. Mr. Zaccardi is responsible for field drilling operations including planning, crew coordination, safety oversight, risk management, equipment performance, and drilling.