For Openers: News and Notes at Press Time
April 15, 2008
Send Us Your LogoAttention drilling contractors: While it might not have the cachet of getting your picture on the cover of Rolling Stone, if you’d like to see your company’s logo on the cover of the industry’s preeminent publication, all you have to do is send us a good, clean copy. The e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org; the mailing address is National Driller c/o BNP Media, 1050 S. Busse, Ste. 200, Bensenville, Ill., 60106. Note to Don Stodola: We already have yours.
In MemoriamIt is with the deepest sadness that Foremost Industries in Calgary, Alberta, announces the passing of Julius Makky on Jan. 27 at age 62, after a 14-month battle with cancer. Makky joined the team at Barber Industries (now Foremost Industries) in 1971 as a welder, working through the ranks to international sales and product manager for 37 years. He showed great comfort and enjoyment in travelling the world and meeting new people, opportunities and ideas. He will leave among his legacy, the design and continual development of the Dual Rotary line of drilling rigs. His skills and knowledge of each nut and bolt of the drill rigs brought him respect worldwide. His personal approach, wonderful sense of humor and stubborn determination made him a unique and pronounced influence on many.
Whiskey and WaterScientists in Scotland looking to clean up polluted ground water have turned to the country’s national drink as an effective and (relatively) inexpensive tool. A by-product of the whiskey-making process is inserted into the ground where it attracts – and then breaks down – metal and organic pollutants. To be clear: They’re using a by-product of the distillation process; nobody’s throwing perfectly good whiskey into the ground.
We've Got Mail - From a Proud Member of the IndustryWrites Chris Adkison of Georgia: I am a 24-year-old blue-collar working-class young adult. I started in the water well industry when I was 16 years old as a shop helper, for a one-service-truck, three-employee company in Georgia. I used to spend my time putting couplings on pipe and building tank packages, putting up stock and washing trucks on the weekend. I currently run a service crew doing any kind of well work from a small residential system to large farm wells, and large municipal systems. I picked up my National Driller and began to read your story about “What Are Contractors Like?” (Dec. 2007, p. 11). As I read the story, I began to do my own soul-searching. As I read the main points – pride in craftsmanship, tightfisted, camaraderie, supply-chain community and wedded to the tried and true – I saw in those words my own life.
Pride in craftsmanship – I am very proud in the work that I do, and I think craftsmanship is very rare in people my age. When I was 17, I began to do service work by myself. As you could expect, I was met with some resistance from customers, to say the least. This taught me to do a job the best I could, and to make sure that it was done right the first time. When people don’t have water, they are sometimes less than ideal to work for, but when that oh-so-important (but not often thought of) water goes to the house, they are more than satisfied, and this is where I get my pride in craftsmanship. I said all that, but knew customers didn’t always trust me, but I have more experience than some contractors who have their own businesses.
Tightfisted – If I’ve heard anything in my time with a small pump service and well drilling company, it’s that you work on a small margin – sometimes on a day-to-day basis. I recently went from a two-pump truck company to a three-pump truck, one large pump truck, two rock rigs, one boring rig and one residential sand rig to large municipal sand rigs, one monitoring rig, one frac truck, but the tightfistedness is still there, too. Most anyone in the drilling industry will tell you that you have a busy season and a very slow season – it’s feast or famine. Therefore, tightfistedness runs over into my personal life as well. I am a father of a three-year-old son, and a husband to a 24-year-old wife of four years. Pinching pennies is a way of life. Some contractors take that too far. If the integrity of the job is in danger, either you’ve got your profit margin too low, or you are lacking in pride and craftsmanship. Like the article said, “The good ones know how to straddle that fine line.”
Camaraderie – It’s one is one of the most noticeable things about the well drilling industry. I spent seven years working for a man who was, at first, my boss, and then my friend, and then to someone I thought of as a close relative. He was there for me when I needed a friend. But when you spend 15 hours to 16 hours a day, 6 days or 7 days a week together, you’ll either love them like a brother or hate the very sight of them. I have not worked for him in almost a year. I had to take a job with some benefits and retirement, but I still talk to him on a regular basis. This industry is a dying breed around here and is constantly threatened by many things – ranging from municipal water systems miles from town, city limits moving further from town, and proposed bills in the state senate. We have to have camaraderie; we have to look out for each other.
Supply-chain community – We like buying familiar brand names, because when you have a problem, it costs a lot of time, money and face with a customer. We also like buying familiar brands because we have been dealing with these companies for years and years. When you buy something from a big box store, it usually is a less-than-quality product. You don’t want something you can’t depend on, especially something you make a living off of. By buying familiar of brands for years and years, you deal with the same people for years and years, people who sometimes drop what they’re doing to bring you a pump, motor or maybe a roll of pump cable in the middle of the night. These things mean a lot to someone like me, and even more to the families, farmers and homeowners.
After a long day at work, I came home, sat down and began to read this story. I did some soul-searching of my own, and I am very proud of who I am and the job that I do. As well drillers, we get very little recognition for what we do, and the people, livestock and crops that we provide water for.