You Know the Drill: Driller Leads by Example
Leadership is a paramount quality when it comes to success. The right leader can change a business for the better by motivating employees, increasing savings of both costs and time, and maximizing productivity while achieving goals.
In short, a great leader isn’t someone who leads; it’s someone that inspires other people to want to follow.
Todd Mount, owner and CEO of Mount Water Well Drilling in Heath, Ohio, is one of those leaders. Started in 1968 by his father, Richard Mount, Mount Water Well Drilling was a “steady and successful” business. They focused primarily on water well drilling, as well as water softener and water treatment services.
Todd purchased the company in 1991, expanding the equipment, employees and areas of expertise. They now drill around 150 wells a year.
That vision to evolve and break the mold, and aiming for new and better things, is partially why Todd is such a successful leader. But it’s also his character and passion that prove his fortitude as a successful business owner.
Q. What do you do, and what keeps you coming back every day?
A. As owner and manager of a good-sized drilling company, I wear a lot of hats, as anyone who runs a company understands. I feel a huge responsibility to my customers and my employees. I believe the customer is entitled to a job well done at a fair price.
We are a three-faceted water company in that we drill wells, install pump systems, and provide water treatment and equipment, if needed. My personal goal — and the goal I impress on my employees — is to do the very best that we can to provide plenty of good quality water for our customers’ needs whether it’s for a house, farm, factory or municipality. A happy customer is absolutely the best advertisement you can have!
I also believe my employees deserve to have the best and safest work environment that I can provide. I am very fortunate to have men work for me that are very talented and knowledgeable at what they do.
Good employees are absolutely essential for a company of any kind. Sometimes you need to go through a few bad ones to find the good ones, but it is worth it! Once you have good employees, it is imperative you treat them well. My men and their wives and kids are like family to me. Just like a family, there are good times and bad times, so you pull through the tough times together and embrace the good times.
You can also learn something from those times (good and bad), so learn those lessons and move forward.
The thing that keeps me coming back every day is the fact that I feel so blessed to live in a free country where I can pursue the dreams I have with the talents God has given me. I visit other countries on church mission trips, and it reinforces how blessed we are here in the USA. I thoroughly enjoy seeing customers’ needs met and my men having a sense of accomplishment.
Q. What does a typical workday involve?
A. A typical work day involves getting to the office at 7 a.m. and returning any calls from overnight that might have emergency water needs (customers that are out of water take precedence over other water needs) and making out the day’s schedule for the crew. At 8 a.m., I arrive at our shop, which is about 10 minutes from the office, and go over the daily schedule with my crews. At that time, everyone is free to discuss anything that they need to. Sometimes, if you have a tough situation, it pays to get everyone’s opinion on how to handle it. When you bounce something off several knowledgeable people, you usually come up with the best solutions. It is important to have an atmosphere where everyone has a voice.
Once the crews go out, I usually go to meet with customers and look at job locations. This involves diagnosing water problems, giving quotes, marking future well locations, etc. I spend a lot of time also on the phone and doing paperwork, which are essential, but not my favorite things to do. As an owner, I really miss working physically on jobs, so I try to get out and help the crews at least once or twice a week. That is important to keep yourself sharp and get a little exercise on the job. It is also nice to “get in the trenches” with your men, so to speak, and it keeps you from getting bored.
Q. What does it take to succeed in what you do?
A. Success in the water industry, like every other business, is dependent upon hard work and an attitude that failure is not an option! There is no replacement for hard work and the success (or failure) of a company — or any organization — is ultimately up to the leader. The leader is where the buck stops, and at Mount Drilling, that person is me. I take full responsibility for what happens. If your employees see that you work hard, handle the tough situations and have their back when needed, they are much more likely to do the same. Leadership by example is imperative! I once heard a general say about leadership that “a fish rots at the head first.” I never forgot that; as the leader goes, so goes those that which he or she leads.
Q. What do you wish you knew when you started?
A. I wish I knew then what I know now about finances of a company. We have done very well as a company, but we could have done better if I had known more about finances and investing early on. When my wife, Cammy, and I purchased Mount Drilling in 1991, I had no financial background other than common sense, and she had some limited accounting background. Cammy realized quickly that we needed an accountant we could trust, and she secured that need right away.
Several years later, we hired a financial advisor and that was one of the best moves we made as a company. Our financial advisor helped us with knowing how to invest properly for the future and how to be smart with equipment purchases, so we could make the best use of tax incentives. An accountant and financial advisor are two different things, and both are important!
Q. What tool can you not imagine working without?
A. Best tool? A Hunke (formerly Smeal) Pump Hoist! We operate four pump hoists and four drilling rigs and all are important, but day in and day out, the 3 ST service rigs used to service wells are absolutely essential to a water well company. We also have an 8T used for commercial and municipal wells. Best small tool? Kwik Klamps pipe vises made by J&K Tool Company.
Q. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
A. The best pieces of advice I’ve received include two things: 1. Surround yourself with good people. Connections are so important. 2. You can explain a high price, but you can’t explain a poor job! Definitely shoot for being the best and not the cheapest!
Q. How would you describe the present state of the industry?
A. The industry has changed dramatically since I started working for my dad in 1979. Before the housing crash of 2008, there were at least 30 drilling companies within our central Ohio area that did work in our county. Now, there are a handful. A tough economy definitely weeds out the weaker businesses, and it is important to be ready for those hard economic times. Diversity and not putting all of your eggs in one basket are important!
Mount Drilling considers itself a water company and not just a drilling company because we cover a wide variety of water needs. Being diversified helps, especially in tough times. It is a lot easier to have too much work and turn a job down than to be looking for something to do! Marketing is key to letting potential customers know how you can help them with their water needs.
There will always be a need for drillers, but with more of the country going on public water service, it is an era where the toughest and smartest survive.