It was a like a scene from a driller's nightmare. A nearly new REICHdrillT T-650-WII, only a year old and still under warranty, was set up at a drilling site ready for work when the earth gave way under it, overturning and heavily damaging the rig.

Making matters worse, it was the only water well rig the drilling contractor owned.

That's what happened to Billy Clayton, owner of Aquadrill Inc. in Winston-Salem, NC, Sept. 28, 1999, but Clayton didn't just wring his hands in despair.

Instead, he called his local REICHdrillT Distributor, who sold him the rig, and it wasn't long before they and REICHdrillT personnel were on the scene offering help.

"Before we turned the rig back over, I called my REICHdrillT Distributor and they were there within three hours from their local branch and a REICHdrillT salesperson, came in within three hours," Clayton said.

"They got together and got me a rental rig within a few days. I traded in the rig that turned over on a new one and REICHdrillT had the new rig built within six weeks. You don't forget about things like that," Clayton said. "Without their help, it would have killed me business wise."

It's that kind of customer service, coupled with quality products, that has made REICHdrillT rigs the brand of choice for many drilling contractors such as Clayton, whose current T-650-WII is the third REICHdrillT product he has owned.

"They're built extremely tough and all the components are heavy duty and you don't have a problem with weld breaks and things like that. All the grease fittings are easily accessible and maintenance is very low and everything is simple to do. You can change the oil in this rig in 20 minutes," Clayton said.

"I had another rig from a major manufacturer for which I couldn't get service from the company or the distributor. I had a lot of recurring problems and had to have an independent mechanic work on it. I kept using genuine company repair parts and they kept wearing out. This REICHdrillT rig doesn't have wear-related problems."

He added when repairs or replacement parts are needed for REICHdrillT rigs, the work is handled without delay

"We are extremely pleased with REICHdrillT equipment and their customer service is excellent. When you call them with a problem, they're there for you. Other bigger companies don't seem to care as much for you after the sale," Clayton said.

"If I ever get out of the well drilling business, I think I could become a salesperson for REICHdrillT and do well," he added. "They're number one in my book as far as looking after the customer and in customer satisfaction."

Similar attitudes are shared by Bart Cushing of Cushing and Sons of Keene, NH, who said his company has purchased six REICHdrillT rigs since 1985.

"They are built like an anvil. They're very rugged and very tough and their durability comes because they are made so ruggedly. We have done some very tough jobs involving 300 and 400-foot casings and backhammering and underreaming and we have done a lot of things with them that they were not designed for and they have done very well."

Cushing's company employs about 25 people and uses three REICHdrillT 690-W rigs for water well and construction drilling. He said REICHdrillT rigs easily outlast other brands in his drilling activities, almost all of which involve working in granite.

"We've had a lot of different brands over the years. At one point we were running six rigs and had a varied fleet. We found all of them do well for the first three years and okay during years four and five, but after about 6,000 hours a lot of the other rigs start having a lot of breakdowns. The REICHdrillsT have done very well and from years five to 10 they have been very problem free," he said.

Noting his company charges the same price per foot drilled today as it did in 1972, Cushing said increased productivity is essential for the business to stay in the black.

"The biggest challenge is how to maintain profitablility. These rigs have been a big factor in helping us maintain our bottom line and the resale value is top-notch too."

Cushing said his company's three REICHdrillT rigs operated a total of 608 rig days in 1999 and were down only 3.5 rig days due to breakdowns, an average of just over one day per rig for the year.

"Today for our applications, these rigs are the best on the market. They are the heaviest and best rigs available."

Noting all the company's rigs are custom built with features requested by his brother Jeff, the co-owner and head driller, Cushing said REICHdrillT has met all their special requirements, including adding Mesabi coolers, Cummins K and Q series engines and mounting the rigs on Mack DM trucks.

"They have done everything we have required for our rigs," he said.

The toughness of REICHdrillT products and customer service after the sale are also among factors that have Greg and Lefty Evans of Lefty's Pump and Drilling, of Crane, MO, sold on the company's rigs.

"They know drillers can tear the horns off an anvil, so they make them super tough, and if they make a mistake on a design, they can correct it very quickly. With a large manufacturer, it could take two years or more to do that. I've been down that road before," said company owner Lefty Evans.

Evans' company employs 12 people and owns three REICHdrillT rigs. Two are T-690-W heavy hoists and one is a T-650-WII, all of which are used for water well and monitoring well projects from six to 14 inches in diameter.

"They're good machines and they're tough, but it's the service after the sale that makes you or breaks you. With REICHdrillT, if you have a problem, you can talk to the guy who designed the machine," he added.

Noting his recommendations have led to three REICHdrillT rig sales, Evans said the company "looks after the little guy."

"How often do you see the President of the company get out and come to a shop? He comes in here two or three times a year to talk with us and get ideas from us," Evans said.

Greg Evans, General Manager, said Lefty's Pump and Drilling has owned seven REICHdrillT rigs since 1993 and uses the rigs to drill about 400 wells a year in Missouri and Arkansas.

"Missouri is known as a cave state and we have a lot of unconsolidated formations. With REICHdrill'sT hydraulics, they let you go straight on through it and finish the job. When you get in a challenging hole you need a machine that will stay with you," he said

"For the type of machine they are, you can't hardly beat them. They're designed for heavy-duty work and I've never found any other machine that can stand up to them."