Craig Obermueller launched oilfield service company Craig Energy more than 30 years ago. “He founded the company with nothing but a strong willingness to get the job done,” says CEO Danny Jimenez. “And I believe that same determination is with us today.”
Craig Energy was recently acquired, but the company is still committed to the core values that Mr. Obermueller instilled. “Our culture is grounded in integrity,” Mr. Jimenez explains. “That is how the company started many years ago and we want to continue to build on that legacy. Being on time, delivering on the promise for the customer – that runs deep in the organization. Even today, most of the business growth that we see is coming from pure reputation and I think that is a direct reflection of the company’s values and the company’s culture.”
That isn’t to say the new management isn’t making their own mark. “We have been able to continue to build on the meaningful pieces of legacy that Mr. Obermueller created for us and combine that with our own expertise and with our own professional experiences,” Mr. Jimenez points out.
Craig Energy offers every service a customer needs to prepare their site for drilling. And, with headquarters in Denver and regional offices in Utah, North Dakota, and Montana, the company is well positioned to deliver its full range of services to a large roster of customers. “We are the ones who come beforehand to get everything ready to go. That includes anything from construction to water management to surface drilling.” The team provides almost all of these services directly, while relying on a few trusted partners to fill in the remaining gaps.
Customers are eager to utilize this suite of services in order to make their jobs easier. “As soon as an oil and gas company is permitted to begin a drilling, the complexity begins,” Mr. Jimenez explains. “It is a major undertaking, a major headache, and what they want is somebody who can come and coordinate all those logistics that are involved.” By integrating services, Craig Energy is able to fully manage the situation and carefully organize all of the different tasks required in the well site preparation and the pre-setting of surface casing. The end result is a reduction in the customer’s cycle time, added footage capacity to customers’ standard rig fleets, and operational efficiencies.
Supporting customers in these key ways has never been more important. “I believe that in a market where everyone is watching discretionary cash flows [and] looking for ways to reduce costs, our value proposition is even more enhanced,” shares Mr. Jimenez. In one example, a key Craig Energy customer has reported being able to add 14 additional wells to their well count without adding an additional big rig. “Efficiency is exactly what this is all about.”
At present, Craig Energy in the process of adding a new cementing service to its list of in-house capabilities. “Cementing services is a critical piece to this puzzle,” Mr. Jimenez points out. “Adding a service line has come as a natural progression for us to add more value to our customers.” Largely driven by customer demand, the move will allow the company to increase the efficiency of its operations. “We have found ourselves waiting for another cementing provider to come and finish that portion of the pre-setting surface casing job,” Mr. Jimenez explains. “We are done waiting on another company to cement our surface jobs; we will do it ourselves.” The company has no interest in becoming a cementing company, of course; “We just want to enhance the pre-setting surface casing portion.”
With every service, Craig Energy relies on its dedicated employees to get the job done right – every time. “In the end all you have is a piece of equipment,” Mr. Jimenez points out. “It is the people you put behind it who actually create the magic.” In return, the company looks after its employees. “We are a company that provides a safe and rewarding working environment for our people,” he insists. For instance, Craig Energy recently launched an internal safety reflection campaign in order to increase personal awareness regarding safety. “What is unique about it is that the campaign is driven by our own people’s input and the end result is a safety message that they can take home to their families.”
The company also works hard to collaborate with clients in order to provide them with the support they are seeking. “We believe we are a strategic partner to our clients,” Mr. Jimenez explains. “Having the ability to sit at the same table with our key customers and have a say in how we are going to plan and execute our operations is indicative of our approach. This also ties to our direct ownership of most services in the chain.”
Clients appreciate Craig Energy’s approach and many of them have urged the company to expand to service a larger area. “Our value proposition is gaining traction across our customer base and some of these customers are multi-basin. Most of them want to replicate the operational efficiencies they have gained in one basin so they can take a similar approach somewhere else where they have an acreage position to develop… I can see Craig Energy expanding in areas where there are clear needs to safely reduce cycle time.” While Mr. Jimenez is not divulging a specific timeline, he is optimistic that the company will be expanding its footprint relatively soon.
In fact, increasing the company’s geographical reach is a huge part of the team’s upcoming plans. “Changing our footprint is one of our most important strategies during the next 12 months, and among the biggest areas of growth opportunity for the company,” Mr. Jimenez remarks. The company is already enjoying solid growth, so continuing down the same track is a likely proposition. “We are going through a period of significant growth with opportunity for that growth to come on even faster and stronger. Twelve months ago, we were 147 employees; today we are 240. We have seen similar growth trajectories in our revenue stream and EBITDA numbers.”
Continuing this growth will not be without its challenges, of course. “High growth periods always come with challenges, but for us today they are all strategic challenges, and as a CEO those are the ones I like to see us have,” says Mr. Jimenez. “Decisions about how to best expand our services, our geographies, and our team – those will be our big decisions during the next year.”
This expansion is not the only challenge the company is currently experiencing. “Craig Energy was acquired about a year ago,” Mr. Jimenez points out. “After more than 30 years, the company now has an executive team and a board of directors. As expected, there are changes that come with that and changing is not easy.” But despite the challenges, the results have been extremely positive. “Out of all the key positions within the company, no one has left the organization as a result of the acquisition.”
Looking ahead long term, the company has plans to add additional services in order to deliver an even more comprehensive solution. “Overall, we believe that if we stay on the well site for as long as we can we will generate more opportunities to spread across customers’ value chains,” Mr. Jimenez explains. “And that is how we are going to capture value.”
With so much already accomplished, the company is well on its way to achieving these goals. “I am thrilled with our progress in the past year and believe we have the team, the roadmap, and the culture that we need in order to be successful. It is a great time to be at Craig Energy.”