The recent South Atlantic Well Drillers Jubilee proved to be a pretty accurate barometer of our times. 

The recent South Atlantic Well Drillers Jubilee proved to be a pretty accurate barometer of our times. Things are on the upswing – albeit slooowly – but it’s a disservice to compare anything anymore to pre-2008 conditions. The show’s attendance was up from last year, but the economy continues to be an issue. “It’s still not where I’d like it to be,” notes Jubilee executive director Jane Cain, “but it certainly is working its way back up there.”

“Our goals for the show were pretty practical. We wanted to make it as affordable as we could possibly make it. We also wanted to offer some things that we hadn’t offered before in the way of training and education,” Cain explains. An example of that was the IGSHPA training for those interested in the geothermal market. “We had twice as many people take the IGSHPA course as we expected. And at $500-plus for registration, that’s very good,” she beams. Interest in geothermal continues to soar.

Jubilee’s educational programming was again top-notch, offering practical insight into topics such as rig mechanics, water treatment, business management, environmental concerns and pump fundamentals, among others.

Always a highlight, the National Ground Water Association-sponsored McEllhiney Lecture was presented by Johnson Screen’s Mike Mehmert. He led a discussion on well efficiency and the vital role well development plays in achieving maximum effectiveness, and how contractors can improve their practices.

“And Don Akers, the sales and motivational speaker brought some really fresh ideas to people in terms of sales and communications,” says Cain. “He was very well received, and we’re talking with him about the possibility of him coming in and doing some advanced training next year. In the past, most of those types of seminars were put on by people who are in the industry; this year, we got an outside-the-industry perspective, which is one we need to hear these days. Our target market is a different breed than it has been in the past. Akers was very pleased at how open our audience was to him and to thinking about communications in a new way.”

A total of nine-and-one-half hours of exhibit hall action allowed visitors ample opportunity to check out the latest industry innovations in products, equipment and other resources. The number of exhibiting companies was about the same as last year, but there were eight new exhibitors, so that’s a good sign moving forward.

Jubilee’s highest individual honor, the much-coveted George McCall Award, was presented to Bob Frank (Frank’s Well Drilling Inc., La Plata, Md.) in recognition of his tireless commitment to our industry.

“For this year, the main goals we set definitely were accomplished,” Cain says. “And it also gave me things to think about for next year. We’ve been having success by diversifying our agenda, and that gives us a good indication that we’re going in the right direction with that.” Moving forward, Cain sees changes in the continuing education programs. “We’ll have a water treatment and water-quality track, a hands-on, mechanical-type track, and we’ll have a track that will tackle some of the political issues that we need people to get focused on. I want to take where we are now and build on that as much as possible.”

Next year’s show is July 30-Aug. 1, and then in 2012, it moves to Virginia Beach, Va., July 21-23. Talking about the once and future site, Cain says, “I think people are really going to enjoy the atmosphere there. The boardwalk is gorgeous, and there’s free entertainment for adults and kids all up and down the boardwalk. The hotels are competitive with Myrtle Beach that time of year, and it’s a more upscale atmosphere.”