It’s getting toward the end of the year and even though the fourth quarter is busy for many drilling contractors, things normally start to slow between Thanksgiving and the end of the year. So I have decided to take a few minutes and reflect on the things for which I am thankful.

My Health

I work very hard trying to stay healthy. When I’m at home, I swim in the morning and run or walk in the evenings. On the road, the treadmill at the hotel gets a workout every day. I try and watch what I eat, especially when traveling, and have even managed to stay with “no meat Monday” most of the year. Removing soda from my diet was difficult, but I actually feel better without all the sugar (and whatever type of sweetener that is in diet soda). But regardless of how much I stay physically active and watch what I eat, the grim reaper is always lurking. We constantly hear of healthy individuals becoming sick or having accidents that defy all logic. In fact, in the last year I was in one car accident and nearly killed by an out-of-control driver in a hotel parking lot a couple of months ago. So, I’m thankful for my health and in 2016 will work on a couple of other items: less stress, fewer adult beverages and maybe even more sleep.

My Family 

My wife and I have been married 29 years — my entire career in the drilling industry. She stood by me and didn’t complain during my tenure working on the back of rigs and through the long hours of training to be a project manager. When I moved to managing field projects, the late-night phone calls from field crews and weekend work was patiently regarded as part of the job. She supported me as I invested my time and our money into a start-up drilling company that did not turn out well. We lost lots of time and all the money. Throughout it all, my wife has been the rock that never wavered and understood the passion I have for my work. For this I am deeply thankful and appreciative.

My Coworkers 

In the drilling industry you meet and work with all kinds of people — some good, some not so good. I have worked for a family-owned business and, at the time, the largest water well company in the country, and most of my colleagues have been great. Thinking back to my first day in the field, I was sent with a hard hat out to a rig with no training. I was just a new geologist fresh from college. I was approached by a floor hand, “Johnny,” who took me aside and made it clear that I was to follow him and do what he said, when he said it (new employee orientation back then was not as it is today). Johnny let me know in very plain English that I was not going to do something stupid on the rig that would cause HIM to get hurt. He did also say he wanted me to stay safe. He patiently showed me where to stand and what do. It would’ve been very easy for him to tell me to sit in a corner and do nothing, but he wanted me to learn and stay safe. Throughout my working life, I have found mentors in every position I held who were willing to take time and help me advance, and for that I am thankful.

The Drilling Industry

I can’t imagine working in any other business. The water well/environmental drilling industry has something to offer anyone willing to invest their time and effort to learn. If you like big companies, there are several to choose from. Is a small family-owned business your idea of a great place to work? There are many scattered across the U.S. You could work for a company that does all types of drilling throughout the country, or find a contractor who only works on domestic wells within 50 miles of the shop. Heck, buy a rig and start your own company if you have the experience and don’t mind risk. The job opportunities are almost endless. You can work every day in the field and never see a desk if you want. If you’re mechanical and don’t want to be in the rain and snow on the back of a rig, how about a shop mechanic or a pump repair technician? Don’t like to get dirty? Sales and marketing may be your spot in a drilling organization. Got a college degree? Drilling companies hire geologists, engineers and scientists all the time. Like numbers? How about a bookkeeper or accounting manager? I’m thankful for an industry that has something for everyone who is willing to try.

So let’s think about the things we are thankful for at the end of the year, and plan on making 2016 a safe and productive year.