Porky Cutter's perspective on why it behooves contractors to establish themselves as professionals.

At times, I have encountered drilling contractors who think they have it all together. They think they are the best contractors in their area - because many don't communicate with their peers, they usually don't have a clue. Many of these people would be better off to hire a person to manage and run their businesses and be content being the owner. They would be better at talking with customers and selling the jobs.


The owner and/or manager of any company with employees must manage it. When he's busy making telephone calls, running the pump rig, running the drill rig, picking up supplies, hauling water or meeting with a customer, he has employees on his payroll, expecting to be paid, waiting for instructions. The owner/manager's job is to manage, not to be a laborer. Many times, when a manager is being a laborer, there are employees on the payroll waiting on something. This waste costs the company thousands of dollars per year.

A professional image helps reinforce the notion that a contractor is providing good, potable water. Photo courtesy of USGS.


It's very important that contractors present a professional image. After all, you're providing an important service - safe water.

It's very important that the company's equipment and drill sites be kept clean - as neat and as orderly as possible. This doesn't mean that employees must have uniforms or that equipment must be new. What it does mean is that all employees', the manager's and the owner's work clothes be clean and not ragged. It is important that they wear gloves, keep their hands reasonably clean and do not wipe their dirty, greasy hands on their clothes.

Keep grease, thread dope, PVC solvent and pipe compound off the vehicles seats, out of vehicle cabs and out of tool and job boxes - you may be required to take a customer somewhere in your vehicle. Don't be embarrassed by having to explain why your vehicle hasn't been cleaned in days, months or ever.

It should be a management requirement that equipment be inspected periodically to be free of trash, mud and dirt outside as well as inside. It's also important that the equipment is in good looking and good working condition, meaning no broken lights, mirrors, loose or dragging electric wires, hydraulic and fuel lines, flat tires or dead batteries.

These things may seem of small importance to you, however, they present a very important image to your customers and the public. When a customer sees filthy people, dirty equipment and unkempt drill sites, they see an image of unsanitary work and water systems. Be proud to be a provider of clean, safe water - show it.


Communicate with your employees, your customers, your suppliers and your wife (whether she is involved with the business or not). Advise the customer when there are changes in the drilling program or progress that must be made due to uncontrollable occurrences, such as cutting a tree, blocking a road or the need to divert water or foam flow. Additionally, the need for the customer or other contractors to clear the drill site to move their equipment being used in construction may arise.

To remain in communication is mandatory. Communicate with your wife by telephone, cellular phone or two-way radio; let her know what's going on with the drilling, scheduling, the pump installation or service, including the customer and the employees. She can many times be your savior. Many times when working for a client, the owner's wife, the employees and/or customer have called me to ask what to do or what's happening because they can't reach the contractor.

Equipment Keys

The owner/manager/supervisor always should have a backup or master set of keys on his person or immediately available. I recommend hiding the rig's and related keys at some location on or around the drill. Many man-hours, billable hours and earnable drill footage dollars are lost waiting on forgotten keys, cutting locks or hot-wiring equipment - not counting the cost of replacing cut and jimmied locks.

Equipment Responsibility

Each drill operator should be assigned his own truck, equipment and related tools with his own keys. Only the owner/manager/supervisor should have an extra set of keys. Only then can the drill operator be held accountable for damaged or missing property or lack of proper tools and supplies on the assigned site.

Job Information

It's very important that the office, driller(s) and pump service man have in hand a written work schedule to include: 1) directions to the job/location map, 2) any required keys or gate codes, 3) well location site map, 4) copy of well permit or application, 5) proposed well description, 6) customer's information and 7) most importantly today, the exact physical 911 site address in the event someone is injured and needs an ambulance or a fire truck. Note: In case of an accident, the emergency people must be given a physical 911 site address so they can find the location fast. A physical address is required in most states today.

The drilling site, equipment and driller all should be kept as tidy as possible.

Costly Employees

Some people are just forgetful, accident-prone, just wasteful or don't think. These people cost a company lost, damaged or destroyed equipment as well as thousands of wasted dollars. They should be made accountable or replaced. Unfortunately, for various reasons, some employees can't be replaced. Many of those same people can't be made accountable and in most instances, can't be trained by the management. This is an unfortunate situation for any company, and I know of no acceptable solution here. It is an observation that I encounter almost daily.

This article isn't meant to target any owner, company or employees. It is meant to be a wake-up call in hopes that companies will take a serious look at the things I have mentioned. It would be to any company's advantage to hire a qualified consultant to critique their company for a week, have that consultant make written recommendations, then seriously consider them. I guarantee it will save any company thousands of dollars and in turn, make them thousands more per year. The greatest benefit is presenting a more professional image and ultimately gaining an invaluable professional reputation.

Although convenient, lodging with direct room access can pose safety hazards.

A Word on Off-site Safety

Many people think they know about safety. I'm not talking about job safety - contractors think there already is too much written about that. I'm talking about crime safety.

If you ever have had your equipment, motel room or yourself robbed, too late, you instantly realized how vulnerable you, your employees and your equipment really are.

Recently while staying in Baltimore, our son “Piglet” was robbed at gunpoint in his motel room with an outside entrance. They forced him into the bathtub and held a gun to his head while an accomplice cleaned out his room, containing his computer, Nintendo games, Palm Pilot, clothing, car and work keys. Believe me; in this case, experience is not the best teacher. He wasn't injured but was relieved of everything, including his car keys. It cost him $260 to get into his car - robbed again by the locksmith.

Even with a new key to his car, his home and our home in Virginia Beach were vulnerable because the robbers had everything, including his Palm Pilot with all his personal and our shared information. With today's identity theft, this remains the even greater crime.

As convenient as it is, avoid staying in a motel with outside entrances. Try to stay on the second or higher floor. Stay in motels where you must pass the desk on entry, preferably motels with surveillance cameras. If staying for several days, don't leave valuables such as computers, electronic games, expensive clothes, personal identification or car keys in your room. You may feel they are safe there, however, the maid or maintenance man may just suggest to others that a certain room is full of valuables. This may be overheard by a thief. It's best to keep these things out of site or in the trunk of your vehicle.

When leaving for work, dinner or going out for any reason, be alert - watch for anyone watching you. They may be surveying you for a robbery at your car or in your room after you leave. Don't make it obvious that you are watching them, as this could cause a direct confrontation by those persons. They know that when you leave, more than likely you won't be back for a while. This allows them plenty of time to clean out your motel room.

I seriously recommend companies contract a consultant to present an in-house workshop for their employees on “Secure Safety”. It also can count as CEP points.

A Bit of Humor

I read the other day: ”You can't un-ring a bell.” Think about it!