Whether a veteran driller or just starting out, a factory visit provides valuable insight when making the investment required to purchase a new rig. Taking time to see firsthand how the rig you’re considering is engineered and manufactured and meeting the service technicians you’ll be partnering with throughout the rig’s operation can solidify decisions when preparing to part with that much cash.
In the drilling industry since 1975, Jim Mack Sr drilled in Saudi Arabia; Houston; Egypt; and Illinois before he saw an ad for an existing Oregon drilling business. In 1988 he bought BANDON WELL & PUMP COMPANY along with its two cable tool rigs and became a one-man show. After six-months, his wife left her job to run the office, serving as the “entrepreneur and planner,” while Mack was the “worker bee.”
“She asked me where I wanted to be in five years, and I told her I wanted a rotary rig. So in five years we bought our first rotary rig. She made the business where everything would flow,” Mack said. “She died in 2020, and I still miss her. I’m now approaching my end of life in this business, and my son joined the business after he graduated college. When I move on, I want him to have reliable equipment to keep his head afloat.”
What began as a one-man operation, now employees seven individuals and has done more than $1 million per year the past several years. One of their rigs now has obsolete parts requiring going to a machinist or making them himself, the truck is falling apart, and “it’s just become a pain to work on.”
“They don’t last forever. It would be nice to have a new piece of equipment to go to the field to work not to work on,” Mack said. “It’s an investment, but we figure our production rate will go up with less downtime and a faster rig.”
Firm in his decision to invest in new equipment, Mack then sought to find the right rig. That’s when Donnie Wood suggested he fly out and check out the Geoprobe®/DRILLMAX® factory. While in Salina, Kansas, he got to see a rig operate and much more.
“I was impressed by the whole manufacturing process. I went on a tour, and they showed me different stages where things are put together. They make everything but the truck,” Mack said. “Everyone working there looked happy to be there. A lot of employees have a farming background with a strong work ethic.”
He was also impressed by the availability of parts and ability to view service records in Centerpoint Connected.
“They showed me where they keep parts on the shelf. You’re not waiting for something to happen when you order something; it is sitting there and shipped out the next day,” Mack said. “They track the machines by serial number in Centerpoint Connected and you can see the service notes and different parts ordered.”
While at the factory, he was able to discuss and review with engineering specific rig performance and options important to him.
“I’ve been to other manufacturing plants — for pumps etc. — but never a drill rig factory. Going to the plant and seeing it all and the smooth operation of it all — I was blown away,” Mack said. “I believe coming to the factory was a game changer.”
Currently working as an apprentice driller toward their own Texas license, J4 WATER WORKS LLC began business to fill a void in their area of Texas for drilling smaller 4- to 5-inch water wells, 100- to 200-feet deep.
“We chose the DM250 because we were seeking an efficient machine to put in more wells than the competition with less labor,” Cuatro Strack, owner, said. “It was hard to look at any other options because we knew they would take more time than the DM250 to run and service.”
He appreciates the constant innovation taking place on the product line while keeping operation simple with few electronics he described as being hard to troubleshoot.
“A simple, mechanical rig is the ticket to making money day-in and day-out in the field,” Strack said.
He credits Donnie Wood for being responsive before and after the sale.
“His level of commitment never changes. We spent nine months in conversation before I bought the rig, and he’s been just as responsive after the sale,” Strack said.
After finalizing his purchase of the DM250, Strack landed in Salina, Kansas, for a pheasant hunt and decided if he was that close he had to make a visit. He was impressed by how clean the shops were and how everyone was on task to do what needed to be done, including the service technicians.
“The service guys really know what’s going on, what’s on the machine, and have parts on hand,” Strack said. “Service after the sale is a big plus for buying a rig. Others can sell you a rig, but they better be able to sell it cheaper because their service isn’t as good.”
For Strack, the manufacturing capabilities shocked him.
“I was most surprised by how much manufacturing is completed versus just assembling parts,” Strack said. “The big CNC machines producing top head parts and things — the level of manufacturing expertise is high.”
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