You Know the Drill: Rising in Rank in HDD
After graduating high school in the ’90s, Cory Baker started working with pipelines and eventually learned about directional drilling. Seeing a lot of opportunity in that market, he started doing horizontal directional drilling (HDD) work for a Louisiana-based company. After spending the majority of his drilling career there, he took an opportunity with Hard Rock Directional Drilling about a year-and-a-half ago. The company specializes in HDD and is based in San Antonio, with two additional hubs in Pearsall, Texas, and Edinburg, Texas. Baker serves as division manager, overseeing projects from bids to completion. He says getting to where he is today took a good deal of time and patience, and that young drillers should realize that moving up the ladder doesn’t happen overnight.
Q. What do you do and what keeps you coming back every day?
A. I look over all of the operations. We have 23 rigs and I look over the operation of those rigs. I help with the estimations, just the overall production every day. What keeps me coming back is Hard Rock is a really good family atmosphere. Robert Myers IV is the owner and started this company in 2003. I had worked with him over the years with my previous company, doing different things for him, and really got to know him. It’s just a really good family feel here at this company. That’s, for sure, what keeps me coming back every day.
Q. What does a typical workday involve?
A. It looks like me with my phone to my ear. That’s what my wife says anyway. But I usually start working at about six o’clock in the morning and going until about nine or 10 o’clock at night, just talking to different crews on the phone and mainly trying to help troubleshoot anything out there and brainstorm with them on any problems they may have. Then I help with the estimating, reading specs, just going through all of the typical things of the day.
Q. What does it take to succeed in what you do?
A. It’s 100-percent dedication. You have to want to be patient and let your time come, just learning all aspects of the job. I worked my way from the ground up, from working labor to moving up to steering the crosses to drilling the crosses to where I am now. It just takes time. That’s what I try to tell any of the young guys that start now because so many of them come in thinking in six months they can have my job. They have to learn to put the time in. It takes dedication and it’s very hard with long hours on the road, traveling as you’re moving up. It eventually does pay off.
Q. What do you wish you knew when you started?
A. It’s really people skills. That’s probably one of the most important things a person can develop early — not just blowing up — patience and talking things out instead of arguing.
Q. What tool can you not imagine working without?
A. I’d say it has to be the people, the employees we have. The great thing about Hard Rock is the team. Every person here is just as important as the next, and we could never do anything without our team out there that does an amazing job and puts in quality work that keeps our clients coming back time and time again.
Q. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
A. A long time ago my grandad told me you’re only as good as the people around you.
Q. How would you describe the present state of the industry?
A. Right now it’s a weak market, with the oil prices down where they’re at in the lower $40s. There’s a lot of hesitation on the oil companies and gas companies with creating new jobs. We’re very fortunate at Hard Rock. We have good partners and a lot of blue chip companies that we have direct contact with that we do a lot of work for. We’ve been fortunate to weather the storm so far, knock on wood. But it is a really tough industry out there. Prices have dropped. It’s a lot more competitive than it was a year ago. The one thing we pride ourselves in here at Hard Rock is our quality of work and I do believe that’s what’s kept us afloat. Our quality has allowed people to continue to want to use us and it gives us a competitive edge.