In a recent Ask Brock episode on The Driller website, a person posed a question about convincing “older” drillers to try newer technologies. Most of us have been on both sides of this issue: as seller and as a buyer. We sell our services and buy equipment and supplies to provide those services.

Some of us have been on both sides of the age issue. We do things a certain way in our 20s and 30s. We act and react differently in our 50s and 60s.

I first entered this industry in a company that manufactured drill string components. Needless to say, we cut a lot of threads. Although carbide inserts were utilized in turning operations, we would still grind our tool steel to machine our threads even though suppliers offered carbide-threading inserts. Evidently, our older manager thought it too expensive to buy the holders and boring bars for all our machinists, and stock an array of inserts to produce rotary-shouldered connections.

Each threading insert by design produced a certain thread form. A 3½ Reg has a thread form different from a 2 7/8 IF, but the 3½ Reg has the same form as the other Reg threads 4½ Reg and smaller. And the 2 7/8 IF thread form has the same form as other “IF” connections. I estimate buying all the holders and boring bars, and a supply of inserts would cost nearly $20,000 (1980 dollars).

When I became manager at nearly 30 years of age, I made the change. I do not know all of the former manager’s reasons, as he had only mentioned the cost. I saw it as necessary for a couple reasons. First, economics. With a machinist no longer standing at the grinder shaping his tool steel as his machine stood idle, the threading inserts made the process quicker. The threading inserts also produced a more perfect thread form than the hand-ground tool steel, thereby increasing our quality.

Why did the former manager not go for it? Was it just the cost, when we really could afford it? His decision fit with others he had made during the time we worked together, including with other major investments like CNC equipment or facility improvements. After all, the company was doing OK as it was, right?

To me at that time, we tested the method and tooling, saw it worked and did it. … To compete in the future, we needed it.

To me at that time, we tested the method and tooling, saw it worked and did it. The threading inserts were available from stock — meaning other companies, perhaps my competition — were already using them. To compete in the future, we needed it.

Maybe that is the key word here: future. The older customer’s future is short. The younger customer’s is longer. The older thinks that he may not need this to survive another 5 years or so, while the younger wants the help to sustain their business into the next decade or more.

Whether you are trying to convince a customer to switch to PCD insert bits, a dual-rotary or sonic rig, or a new concept in drill pipe, you should consider your customer’s point of view regarding their future. The financial needs of older customers likely differ from younger ones. The rig may be paid off, along with the mortgage on his home. The kids are grown. So what if their methods are not the most efficient? They can live on less without the risk of an investment in something new. Besides, I believe that as we age we tend to cling more tightly to our comfort zone. It is not that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. It’s that the old dog no longer has an interest in doing tricks.

If your customer has a generational operation, I suggest getting that younger generation on your side. Their outlook likely differs. They may prove more apt to realize the advantages you offer are needed for future success. Even the older current leader may be willing to take on these newer technologies, as it will help the next generation flourish.

If your customer is older with no interested children, try to understand their needs. It is not you. It is not that your customer is a curmudgeon. It is just a reflection of their situation. They spent their life pedaling hard and now they just want to coast to the finish line.