In business we often talk of goals and even exit strategies. They are normally referred to as exit plans, but this exit was anything but planned.
This is my last week of work. Just over five years ago I broke free from my cubicle at Visa in Denver to participate in the family venture in the Bakken. In those five years I experienced things that I never could have imagined. I operated salt water disposal facilities, participated in the construction of them, eventually became the general contractor of new construction, and engineered new tank design and facility layouts. I have great memories of unloading trucks at 2:00am on nights that were 25 below zero, talking and laughing with truck drivers from across the country. I met and worked with my father, uncles, many relatives, even my father-in-law. I flew around the western states examining investment opportunities to recycle the waste water produced from the same formations as our Bakken crude oil. I was given the opportunity to visit cities like Houston, San Antonio, and Denver on a regular basis, meeting folks who became close friends. I had the privilege of working with a best-in-class engineering firm in the development of pipelines and related projects, and built lifelong relationships there. I saw our company become a logistics giant under the leadership of family friends who have succeeded in North Dakota for generations. I was fortunate enough to see a rail yard built under our company’s banner, eventually accepting and storing over 125 miles of pipe. We purchased a family company in Wyoming and had an amazing opportunity to learn from them in regards to over-the-road trucking and logistics. I watched as our company brought in another family friend that built a hydro-excavation division from scratch, achieving immeasurable success and becoming a valuable member of our team.
As oil prices plummeted, this family company resolved to survive and succeed. We were forced to examine ourselves very closely, and make hard decisions. We completely restructured the company, examined every efficiency, and every asset. We sold equipment, downsized, reorganized leadership teams, streamlined operations, and managed to bring a great focus on safety. We lifted up the leadership of the company in prayer, and focused our efforts on providing a quality environment for our employees to work. Rates dropped, many were forced to move on, but the core of the company has remained. We now have a motivated group of young leaders in position to take this company into 2017. We have over 20 job openings, and are prepared to launch into a new stage of controlled growth.
I’m so proud of this group of men and women. In 2017 we will be more successful due to the back office support and financial expertise of our team in Grand Forks. We will be more efficient in oilfield water hauling due to the restructured leadership of the division manager, operations manager, supervisors, and core of long tenured drivers. We will be better at fuel distribution thanks to our fuels division manager and his efforts to streamline operations and control costs. We will be safer because of our amazing HSE manager and our newly appointed HSE coordinator. We will continue to grow hydro-excavation due to the new division manager and his efforts to be a knowledgable and professional presence in the field. We will have the best equipment in the field due to the fleet manager and an amazing team of mechanics and technicians. Our employees will be supported by a field office manager that is second to none.
Finally, we will be successful in 2017 because of a young man that will take the helm in my absence. His heart is for the success of the people around him. He is unselfish, genuinely cares for the success of the company, but only if the people of the company share in that success. He is motivated, and his contagious enthusiasm brings people together. He seeks God for his strength, and truly desires to place his full trust in the One who is worthy.
Obviously this company holds a piece of my heart. It holds my pride. It is my status in the community. It’s the car that I drive, the brand on my shirt, the thief of my time. At times it has stolen me from my wife and family. At times it has stolen my attention from God. It’s everything that I’ve worked for, and in many ways it’s everything I’ve ever wanted. In the end, it can’t compete with Christ. As I look around me, the sunrise and the sunset, the amazing creation of God, even the oil that we pull out of the ground scream with evidence of a creator. I believe that the creator is the God of the Bible. I believe that Jesus left the immortality of His position at the right hand of God the Father, put on the mortality that I wear, and died in a manner that I deserved, just to make a pathway for me to restore a relationship with God the Father. He has asked me to leave my pride behind to follow Him and serve the many orphans and children in Uganda. As far as that may seem, it is nowhere near as far as He came to serve me, a man separated from his Father in heaven by the sins that I committed. In Christ I am free to say no, but how could I respond to His great love by saying no to this relatively small sacrifice? In my estimation, Jesus Christ is worth it.
In just a few days I will transition to full time fundraising. We will travel the country as a family, visiting many friends and family. We will make our final preparations, and check the boxes until all has been accomplished for us to depart for Uganda on February 10th. In this season of lasts, my family will come together under the headship of the God who leads us, ready to do His will.
I’m thankful for the leadership of my family, for the trust they placed in me, and for the underserved favor of many. I was afforded so many amazing opportunities, and this time truly prepared me for the work that God has for my family in Uganda.