You Know the Drill: For Drillers, It’s All About a ‘Teachable Attitude’
This month’s installment — the first ever — features Blake Cabit, regional manager at Terra Sonic International’s Aiken, S.C., office. He oversees the company’s environmental and geotechnical drilling offices in the Southeast. Cabit kicked off his career like many in the industry do, working for his dad’s drilling company where he mastered auger, mud rotary and air rotary drilling. He started from the bottom and says 28 years later his efforts to get better and learn more are still going strong.
Q. What do you do and what keeps you coming back every day?
A. I have two roles. I am regional manager overseeing multiple offices for Terra Sonic, but also, and probably what I enjoy the most, I get into the field as a project manager. This gives me a chance to see how we are performing and interact with the clients. You learn a lot by being out on a drill rig and dealing with the day-to-day issues, which helps me be successful in both roles. Also, whenever you can, having hands-on field time and assisting the guys is an opportunity to teach and also learn something new.
Q. What does a typical workday involve?
A. The day always starts early in the drilling business, as most know. The first half of the day is getting caught up on emails, writing proposals, invoicing and setting up projects for the upcoming weeks. Once that’s been completed, I generally try to go out to a jobsite, check on the gentlemen that are out there working, develop relationships with the clients on site and just make sure things are going well and everyone is working safely.
Q. What does it take to succeed in what you do?
A. I think just focus and determination. The drilling industry is constantly evolving from a standpoint of the difficulty in drilling certain formations, equipment needed and trained personnel. I think you have to be determined to be successful and you have to have a good focus for each project and then on your overall personal and company goals.
Q. What do you wish you knew when you started?
A. I think one of the things that would have been nice to know was how hard the work is. The drilling industry is hard work with demanding work hours at times and there’s a lot of travel involved for some of us. A driller has to have a teachable attitude because every job is different with many opportunities to learn and improve.
Q. What tool can you not imagine working without?
A. For me personally, it’s the people and equipment that we work with. The drilling equipment has evolved over the years. Terra Sonic International has the most up-to-date, state of the art equipment in the market today and that makes our job a lot easier. Our drillers are trained in many areas to ensure safety and knowledge of the equipment and drilling procedure. There were times years ago when we worked with old equipment and you had to be very creative to get the equipment to run. Nowadays, the drill rigs that we use and operate are very well built and it makes life on the jobsite easier and a lot more efficient.
Q. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
A. I’ve had two and one of them is to always have a plan B because things don’t ever go as you may think. In the drilling industry there are a lot of unknowns. Whether it’s a personnel issue, a client issue or a project site related issue, things are always changing. You always have to have a plan B and be thinking about, “What if this doesn’t go as planned?” The second thing was that change doesn’t always have to be bad. A lot of people are resistant to change and I think a driller has to be open-minded. Again, the drilling business has and continues to evolve and you have to be open to new ideas and new ways of doing things.
Q. How would you describe the present state of the industry?
A. Despite what you might hear in the news the country’s still growing and I think whether it’s infrastructure, brownfield redevelopment or the constant environmental needs, there’s a lot of work out there to be done. Environmental issues aren’t going to just disappear. You have to position yourself as a good company that operates safely. A company needs to differentiate themselves from others and be diversified like Terra Sonic. You can’t just be narrow minded and focused on one specific type of drilling or one sector of the market.
Valerie King is associate editor of National Driller.