Saturday, March 24, 2012

Chapter 16: All I could Do - The Long road to the Magic City.

As I'm writing this, it's about four A.M. in Utah.

Before anything, I just want to let it be known that i could never have made it this far without Chett Wills, Freddy Ogden, Reed Page, and Jason Stroud.  I'll never be able to thank you enough for believing in me.

The Long Road

Ten o'clock. Spring night.. About fifty five degrees. It's humid, and a bit chilly, but I can't quite see my breath.  I will soon. It's been a long day. Long, but good.

I just got back to the house. Chett and Fred are watching Mad Men on a netflix account they bummed off of someone.

I had gotten up at 4:30 in the morning, as I had for the previous 8 days straight, and getting home every day between six and seven in the afternoon.

The day had been long. Half way to Tioga in the morning, I kept nodding off at the wheel. I leave my house long before the sun peeks over the horizon. It's dark, and today, especially foggy.   I can't see very far past the hood of my truck.

I'm tired.  I generally don't go to bed before midnight, and the early mornings/long days are taking their toll. I'm having a hard time staying awake.

Due to the nodding off every two minutes, and the fog, I decide to take a quick nap in Stanley. I parked at the truck stop.

When I wake up thirty minutes later, it's still dark.  Still foggy.  I drive back towards the highway to hop on it, can't see a thing. I cruised right through all 4 lanes of traffic, narrowly missed getting slammed by a big truck. That woke me up.

I continue driving and make it to work safely.

It's about an hour and a half drive to Tioga.  I've been making the drive pretty regularly every week for the last four months. This gives me about 3 hours every day of good thinking time.  At this point, I'm very used to driving a lot.

I reflect daily on my life, on where I've been, and where I might be going.  I think of what it's taken to get me here, what I've given, and the struggles I've faced. I think of the times I've been hurt, and I appreciate those people for helping me grow.

Some of this story might have been told already, but it all ties together.

Christmas break, 2010.  I was at home with family.  This was the week of the big break up.  I went to church with my parents, and said hello to a lot of old friends from the ward. One of them is my neighbor Kim.

Kim Blanchard is a tough old cowboy.  He's probably about 55 years old, still can do some serious physical work.  He owns and manages Straightshot Oilfield Services.  They do welding, roustabout, and hotshot. Right out of high school, he went to work for El Paso. He had been with the company for probably twenty years or so before starting his own business.  His main client is still El Paso. He's done very well for himself.

He looks a lot like the King off of Tangled. I look up to him very  much.

Five years ago, he asked Reed and I to do that ultrasonic inspection job. We did it under him, made ourselves some money, and made him some too.  He paid for our training, and off we went. It was a great job.

Flashforward, December 2010.  I wanted to talk to Kim about an idea I had recently.  He got called out of church after the first meeting to get a frozen oil well un-stuck.  I volunteered to jump in with him so we could talk.

My idea was to do the ultrasound contract again (as 2011 would be the next round of testing) only this time, we would do it for ourselves, and not underneath him. I wanted to know if what he thought about the idea, and if it would be okay with him.

He thought it was a great idea.  He was very supportive.  We didn't have a master service agreement with El Paso. An MSA is basically a contract between a large company, and a smaller contractor or service company.  You can't do any work or get paid unless you have the MSA.  Because we didn't have an MSA, we formed our own corporation, Straightshot Testing and Inspection, and subcontracted underneath Straightshot Oilfield Services.  This is kind of how we got around it. We would invoice El Paso, and the checks would flow through Kim's company to us.  This is how we got started.  It only cost the incorporation fees, and some other legal/financial paperwork fees, from what I understand.  Jason Stroud took care of all of that.

A different aspect that is important to note, is that in the service industry, you have to wait between 30 and 90 days or more to get paid on an invoice.  Because Kim had such a long standing relationship with El Paso, we only had to wait 30 days to get paid.

I moved back to Vernal into a new apartment with Jason and Chett around the first of April of last year. I still had a lease on a place in Denver, and most of my stuff was still there, including my bed.  For some reason I didn't take it with me out to Vernal. I can't remember why.

But I was broke, and when I got to Vernal, every one of my few dollars went into fuel to drive to El Paso every day.  For that whole month before we got paid, I slept on the floor. I couldn't afford to do anything else.  I even borrowed 100 dollars from my sister Anna, who herself didn't have much money. It was embarrassing, and difficult to borrow money from people to get by.

The month came and went, and I turned the whole operation over to Reed.  Friends moved home for summer to work for us; Eric Domgaard, Bruce Niebergall, Moises Mendez, Chett of course.

I moved to Grand Junction before I got to really see anyone.  I had nailed an engineering internship with Halliburton.  That was pretty exciting. That meant I would be traveling around between Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, and New Mexico all summer. They even flew me to Dallas and Houston a few times.

Well, Straightshot Testing and Inspection had a rough start, at least for me.  I had started an ended a whole new relationship during that time. I had gone to Philidelphia, Phoenix, and Delaware for business related trips. It was a busy time.

We didn't make millions on inspection, but we came out with enough to play with some new ideas at the end of the year.   We even might have another contract for this year. Cross your fingers, everyone.

By November, we were completely finished with the El Paso contract. We were just Chett, Fred, and I left, and we needed something new to do.  We played with the idea of moving to Denver to find jobs, or maybe even Salt Lake.  I met a kid from Layton named Tyson in Vernal.  He took time off of school to make some money driving a truck in the oilfield. We talked  all the time and played with ideas for future businesses.  We talked about how a truck wash would make a killing up in North Dakota. We didn't have the couple hundred grand to get that started, so I had an idea to do a mobile truck wash.  Basically, a trailer with a heavy duty pressure washer and a big water tank.

He happened to have one of those.

I hooked it up to the back of my little truck , and the week before Thanksgiving of 2011, I was on the road with Chett and Freddy. We grabbed some duffel bags, some sleeping bags, and took off. I had not much more than what I was wearing. I had barely enough money to live a week or two.

The Oil Field Romantic

Posting on Sunday at 6:00 PM CST.  Chapter 17: The Magic City- The top of the hill.
This chapter will be about what it takes to make me fall apart.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Greg! just wanted to let you know that i have offically got on here and am now able to leave random silly comments!! bahahaha