Well, the title’s full quote is, “If you’re not growing, you’re dying, and I’m not ready for that.” This often-quoted phrase is usually attributed to actress Mary Steenburgen. Business and motivational speakers use it frequently — I think because it is true. This statement is true in our industry for manufacturers, distributors and contractors. To rest on yesterday’s values or accomplishments is unhealthy for any business.

In high school, my favorite teacher was John Romine. He taught our Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA) class. The class prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs for college and careers. Romine challenged us to think beyond the “four walls we lived in.”

In the ’70s, my family owned an office supply store in Kankakee, Illinois. Romine advised my father (in 1978) to pivot to selling software and get ready for the coming home computer wave. My father ignored his advice as a fad. He couldn’t see the coming trend. By 1984, Egghead Software stores were popping up around the country. While my dad missed the trend, Egghead was defunct by 2001 – selling its domain name to Amazon. Eat or be eaten, I guess!

I remember Romine once asked me, “Do you think a private company could ever compete with the United States Post Office to deliver mail?” My answer was “no.” It was too big of a change to wrap my head around. Yet, today Amazon, FedEx, UPS and other private providers deliver significant volumes of our mail and packages. Times change; the question is will you change with them?

Let’s look at some examples of change in the drilling industry.


Like with many manufacturers, here at CETCO we work to challenge ourselves with innovations and new ideas. We don’t just look at the product, but also at the process used in the field. We want to maximize drilling efforts.

Some other manufacturers choose to sell products direct to contractors in an effort to provide choices in stagnant distribution areas. Others rely more on Voice of the Customer (VOC) to drive change and growth from the field. Manufacturers have various strategies to keep current.


Delivery lockers and central delivery locations now serve many remote drillers. This innovation has made it easier for distributors to resupply drillers across a broader geographic range. Ordering online and having the order waiting for pickup also saves valuable time for busy contractors. The virtual distribution model eliminates territory lines and opens a variety of options up to the field contractor. For distributors, consignment and stock at a driller’s yard adds a new level of service for some customers. All of these options show distributors embracing change.


Drillers, specifically, these days think beyond the “four walls” when it comes to new tools, equipment and fluids that can expedite a job and move the crew to the next phase. They find that online calculators (like ours) can provide product recommendations and dosages for a variety of drilling applications. They know that one specialty fluid increases productivity in aggressive clays while others ease the challenges of cobble and unconsolidated bores. Contractors can find growth through the latest equipment and fluids.

The Covid-19 Pandemic years, 2020-2022, showed us change happens no matter what. Supply chain challenges and public health concerns made all of us change our ways of doing certain things. This was forced change brought on by extreme circumstances, but often that is how growth happens.

We can be our own worst enemy or our best weapon as we strive to get better in 2024.

The key to growth is change, and change is a defining limitation to all of us. Being told something is going to happen or that doing this different can make life is easier is actually the harder path to follow. Psychologist Nathaniel Branden said, “The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance.” Change equals growth and growth equals acceptance.

We can be our own worst enemy or our best weapon as we strive to get better in 2024. Take an improvement challenge for the New Year. Take a class, go out for dinner with a mentor, and take steps to learn or consider new ways of refining your business. “Change before you have to,” as Jack Welch would say.

Have a happy and successful New Year!