The Energizing America Podcast

EP 53: The Pressures of Owning Your Own Company w/ Matt Walker

Episode Summary

During this week's podcast, Shane had the opportunity to chat with Matt Walker from Walker Inspections in Gillette, Wyoming. The two discussed what kind of sacrifices it takes to own your own company. Both Shane and Matt were able to bond over their respective businesses and the importance of holding yourself and your employees accountable.

Episode Notes

For more information about Walker Inspections, check them out here:

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Episode Transcription

[00:02] Shane Stolp: Welcome to The Energizing America Podcast where we talk all things energy, why we need in our business communities in life, and why we really need it in the oil and gas industry. But excited to sit on today with mr. Walker, matt walker, owner of walker inspection, and chat about what the world is going on in the oil industry and the energy industry. So welcome, matt, and thanks for coming on with us today. I appreciate it.


[00:28] Matt Walker: No problem, sir. Appreciate the opportunity.


[00:31] Shane Stolp: I would love for our listeners and myself to understand better what is the story of Walker Inspection, a small town Gillette, Wyoming guide coming to be a Walker inspection company. Walk us through the history of walker.


[00:47] Matt Walker: Sure. So Walker is kind of a multigenerational thing, but it's kind of a unique story actually. My dad started walker inspection in oilfield service company only.


[01:10] Matt Walker: He was a drill pipe and tool inspector. So hence the inspection. Part of it was he was actually doing oil field inspection work. And then when the oil field slowed down, I believe in the mid 90s, we all kind of stopped doing it. And then we all wound up just going and working on drilling rigs for the next eight years. And then when this new oil field popped off in about 2010, me and my brother picked walker inspection back up and started it again as a pressure testing company. So like I said, it's an older company, but it kind of lingered there for quite a while, just doing odd things here and there. And then after me and Andy, that's my brother, we got tired of rough neck and we picked that back up and then started to figure out this oil field pressure testing things. Like I said, him and his brother ran it. My dad and his brother, and then they actually bought these drilling rigs and me and my brother ran them. So it's always been family stuff. The four of us have always been a pretty good team, actually. Now it's just my dad, my brother and myself. My uncle, we bought him out and he twisted off to Arizona. Anyway, once everybody was tired of rough neck and we figured we had to figure out how to get on the other side of it.


[02:57] Shane Stolp: Yeah, well, I would imagine that rough necking experience probably has been a pretty big help for you as you went forward.


[03:05] Matt Walker: Sure, yeah. When I built my first BOP test rig, which is primarily where we operate in that space is underneath the drilling rig testing safety equipment, like, you know, in new Mexico and Wyoming, too, those operations are looked over by the BLM, so federal government. So it was a pretty important job. And yeah, having a knowledge of the rig and the components and how things line up and stack up, it was helpful to say the least. Nothing would have prepared me for what was coming, but please try.


[03:48] Shane Stolp: I think that's the cool part about business. And I don't know what industry you're in or entrepreneurship, just in of itself. People are like, Dude, where'd you learn? How did you get where you are? And you're like, I don't know, I just woke up in the morning and I put my boots on and it went and repeated and stupid fins just keep doing dumb things, and eventually there you are. And by the way, I don't know if we ever make it. That's the fascinating part. People are always like, how would you do it? And you're like, do what? You're doing the same thing. You're getting up every day and putting your boots on.


[04:20] Matt Walker: Yeah, I've got quite a few employees now, so I get some of those kinds of questions like, what about this? And how did you get here? And same thing, like, Well, I don't know, dude, I don't even have an office. Have I made it? What are you talking about? If you want to know what I know, before you go to bed, you listen to experts talk about taxes on YouTube as you drift off to sleep to make sure you're not missing the boat on something. Yeah, it's a crazy world. My mind is consumed. Not with money, because I'm not a material guy, like I said, or else I'd be a little different. But the quest like, what are we doing? Why are we doing it? Well, I was put in the oil field from birth. Like, here, my dad works there. I went to college. I grabbed up a little construction management degree. Not really my gig. It did help me with some management skills in the future. But oil filled with my space. I did good at it. I networked well from a young age. Working with my dad, I'd learned how to deal with men and talk to men about not business, but jobs and how to get from point A to point B. That's a huge advantage that I guess my employees wouldn't have had. Their dad wasn't dragging them around from rig to rig, introducing you as the helper or whatever. It was cool.


[06:02] Shane Stolp: So your dad must be moving up in the age, and he's still involved in the business, even though you and your brother are taken off.


[06:10] Matt Walker: Yeah, I think he's well, he's like, 63.


[06:14] Shane Stolp: Okay. But still find the other 63 year old still willing to work in the oil field business after all. 1986, you slow down mid nineties. You kind of put the business on pause back in 2000s. Amp up gillette's kind of booming the shell play takes off, and you're like, hey, let's do pressure testing.


[06:34] Matt Walker: Yeah. So he when we whipped up the pressure testing idea the first day, he made it clear, I'll be back here you go out there. Don't get me wrong, he'll still get down and get after it. But he was done managing by that point. Like I said, he had quite a few years in of running crews and people and he wanted to be a part, but he didn't want to be the boss anymore. He was and he hasn't, you know, as craziest stuff's got, I'm sure he's had to go home and just bite the wooden spoon, baby. But.


[07:21] Shane Stolp: You don't think he doesn't get in your business and that's good because in this business, decisions have to be made so quickly. If you go through and I have a business partner, my brother, and we used to have a couple of other shareholders, but during COVID they got freaked out and we bought them out and worked out that favor. But to run all those decisions through too many people, you don't got time for that. Everything is urgent. So speaking of that, you've gone through these crazy markets, right? There's been some good times and some low times. I've seen a post from yours back in 2020 in the Permian basin thanking your Permian team for all that they're putting up with. And I promise guys, we're going to get through this together and we're going to come out stronger. Conversely, I've seen some posts from yours saying like, boy, we've built over 100 operators in the last month. So you've done some highs and lows. How do you handle that psychotic bam whiplash thing that we deal with? Yes.


[08:20] Matt Walker: Well, I don't handle it probably any differently. It gets dished up on my plate without any of my own. Here it is chow down. So I'll tell you things that I've done in the past. Like I said, what I meant in some of those Permian texts was wyoming got to a point where there was zero rigs. Colorado got to a point where there was one rig. North Dakota had less than five and we didn't lay anybody off. The permian held us up. And honestly too is there was a couple of times the guys standing around looking hungry. I actually went and bid out some city concrete projects. We went and poured concrete. Like I said, one year we were millions and millions of dollars in pressure testing. The next year we laid some sidewalks down. But that's the thing too. That was one of the parts that keeps my employees in my zone and loyal to me is there's no stop. Things went down. The permian was still good. They were sending money up. We found things to do to COVID our wages. The swings, though, like I said, honestly, I find the upswing harder than the down. You know, I've been bitten the past trying to ramp back up for something that wasn't going to last and the expense doesn't quite reach, you know what I mean? The money that comes in later doesn't quite reach what the expense was for the ramp up. So the lows are terrible, but the highs are just as bad. That's one of the things that like, I'm really fortunate right now. That oil and gas is just kind of steady. And we didn't see the rig count jump like we did in 2014, just because the expense of rigging backup for it's too much. And then, like I said, in those hundred operator days, just every company, just anybody you can think of just was either drilling a well or completing a well or putting one on production or cleaning one out. And anywhere there was a BOP or a frack job or what have you, coil tubing unit. We were there throwing pressure on it, making sure it wouldn't burst. Yeah, my office staff was insane that time, too. You probably know this, everything is automated. So we had like 14 automated companies we had to submit invoices to and pretty much do the paperwork for them, which you could hear the girls up front whining about that.


[11:22] Shane Stolp: Yeah, it's a fairly interesting you touched on that the highs are almost tougher than the lows or that they are tougher than the lows. I found the same thing I was telling our finance team in 2020, like, hey, gals, now you'll get to experience where life feels really awesome. Money is going to be coming in for the last six months worth of work. You're going to have no open invoice or open ticket ADP bill, but all you're going to have to do is enter payments. The bank account balance is going to grow, and everyone's going to think this is hunky dory, but then wait for the whiplash because on the upswing it's going to even be harder. So I've been telling them all year, like, hey, remember what I told you back in 2020? This is what an upswing feels like. Is your capital in your business? Is it a capex intensive business for you to add crews? Do you have to spend a lot of money to get them going?


[12:12] Matt Walker: The thing about Walker Inspection is it's 100% service, not 198. We do have some rentals and some different things, but everything's on manpower, every hour build, there's no cushion of service. And products where you can grab 15% off of your product line. Honestly, the payroll just skyrockets. And then we're in a business where you can't technically discriminate overtime because you need the men to work the hours. I mean, you have to find a fine line, but safety training, the amount of money that we have invested into an employee before they ever touch the field, when we hire 30 men before our employees hit the field, we're pretty close. We invested about $2,000 in that employee. So when we do these hiring events and pull these employees over, I mean, if you have 30, you could be 60 grand in safety training. And then we provide benefits and housing and travel, and you haven't turned a dime, and you got 100 grand in.


[13:35] Shane Stolp: Well, and then you go to work for a company and if your MSA or anything like ours are it might be 45 days on a good A game. Like, your whole staff has to be on an A game to be paid within 45 days. Right. Because that tickets got to get an open ticket. The girls got to get the invoice generated match. The Dang thing, you got to hope the supervisor hits approve, you know, and then some companies are like, yes, but that MSA is just from the day we approve it, not from the day you submit it.


[14:04] Matt Walker: Yeah. So same thing I'm 90 days out on making a return on an employee. And then two here in Wyoming, we build the equipment and then ship it. So that's the same thing, too is for essentially every three people you add, there's got to be a piece of equipment. There's got to be something for them to operate, to do this job. The permian right now, I think you probably seen on LinkedIn that me and Andy just made an acquisition, which that was a big deal. That took about all of my mental capacity because I'm not extremely fine tuned just in the art of business. I'm kind of just I do it my own way, which it works for us. But it was the Wyoming boys versus, like, with the lawyers and the accountants, it was crazy.


[15:11] Shane Stolp: I would love to be a fly on the wall because I know some Wyoming boys, and you don't get scrappier than a Wyoming. And they flat, can get things done because they see right through all the BS. But then you put them in with a group of Houston lawyers, and I would have loved to see how that went.


[15:31] Matt Walker: Oklahoma City.


[15:33] Shane Stolp: Okay.


[15:35] Matt Walker: Just as good, and don't get me wrong, too, is me and Andy got a really nice team of accountants and lawyers, too, that they don't work for us. They're associates. But we did the initial, and then I think what shocked them was we were kind of so rough and out of pocket, and then when our legal and finance team came in, it was just like, boom. Okay. That's how this works. I see. So it's kind of funny when you first enter some of those deals, like in that one, the Upper Crust was kind of like, who are these dudes? But they knew Too is in that situation, they were changing directions. And upon meeting me and Andy, they knew pretty sure that we could do their pressure testing business justice. So it actually went pretty good. It took a little longer than I thought. I think I worked on that for over a year.


[16:40] Shane Stolp: For over a year. That's one thing I try and tell folks that ask me about business and whatever, that I don't know what I'm doing. But I will tell you a couple of surprises. One is, whatever you think, however long it's going to take, double it, quadruple it, whatever. The bigger the company, the longer it's going to take to get the deal done, just the reality of it. And good things come to people who keep pushing and waiting and spending your time on it. And this is a fairly large company's. Assets that you acquired people, or did you only acquire the assets?


[17:14] Matt Walker: Obviously, you know, that the people are on their own free will, but yeah, I think we took we took 37 with us and then the assets and then, you know, all of that stuff. I'm trying to think they were about two thirds the size of Walker when we did it. So they were running about 20 some pressure testing setups all crewed out, and then I think Walker was probably maybe half the size. We probably had 40 some running at the time. So, yeah, now it's over 60, which for pressure testing for other fewer trucking company, big ones, having 60 trucks would be here or there in pressure testing. I mean, each crew in each unit can handle, you know, dozen jobs a week. I mean, they do get along sometimes, but, you know, you think if you're keeping them busy and each crew is getting about ten or twelve jobs a week, times 60 all over the United States, I mean, it gets pretty big pretty fast.


[18:40] Shane Stolp: So how many employees are you dealing with right now?


[18:46] Matt Walker: We hired eight yesterday, so I think it's over 100. I don't know the exact number.


[18:52] Shane Stolp: Yeah. And one of the cool things about the oil industry is if you have 100 employees, they ain't working 40 hours. Right. Have you ever done just a fun little math problem? I've told my team from time to time, take the total man hours that we paid out right. And divide it by 40 hours and tell me how many full time people, normal, societal, like people that are educated.


[19:15] Matt Walker: And know every nine to five or something.


[19:17] Shane Stolp: Yeah, I think we would have over 30% more than what we actually have. Sometimes 50% in today's crazy times, right?


[19:30] Matt Walker: Scratching at the door. Yeah, I'm with you. I mean, we do, too, is we hire people. Once the hours get to a certain point, we start hiring additionals. But 40s not where we hire additionals.


[19:45] Shane Stolp: This industry, people don't want 40s, they'll go find someone else who's going to give them 50s or 60s. They're on the road, they're away from their family. Let's get some work done.


[19:54] Matt Walker: Oh, yeah, we talk about it a lot is if you said a man in a camp, he's looking for a job. He's not sitting in the camp. Even if you're paying him, he doesn't care. He's not there to sit in that camp and watch TV. You know, the guys we hire and the guys in our upper levels of testing, you better be stabbing them on rigs. And when they get done, they better have another one to go to when they wake up. And that's how they like it.


[20:27] Shane Stolp: Yeah. It is funny how this industry. I used to think, well, who cares? It's time and material. You guys are okay, you're getting paid, what's your hurry? Yeah, but the very nature of an oil field worker is, give me something to do or I'm gonna go find it on my own and you might not like the result.


[20:43] Matt Walker: Yup. Well, money talks. Obviously you can pay through some of that, but I know that some of the guys because pressure testing is kind of a unique baby. It's 24/7 365 on call, takes a really, really kind of unique scheduling network. Probably about like running Casing or cementing or, you know, some of these other services. That when it happens, it happens. You're midnight somebody's lunch, dude. So being unique like that is it brings out people who work in those environments. And the first couple of years I pressure tested. Personally, I fit well in those environments. I excelled in obscure hours. It didn't bother me to jump up at 02:00 and run down to a rig and pop a few tests off. My wife thought I was insane.


[21:50] Shane Stolp: Yeah, but they think we are anyways if we're in this business.


[21:54] Matt Walker: Never cried in front of me, so it's cool.


[21:58] Shane Stolp: How does that work between you and your brother? Who's doing what? Is your brother out doing business stuff, you're out running the crews? How would you guys navigate that?


[22:06] Matt Walker: No. So actually what's happening right now is and we're pretty close in age, he's three years older than me and a lot smarter. Like mathematically and fundamentally, I'm a much better networker communicator. I'm not shy. Like when we were first doing sales calls for me to drag him out to a rigged knock on a door and just cold call. He would have rather crawled into a rock. Me, I couldn't have cared less. But if you ask him some crazy math problem like just rattling numbers off, he sharpest attack. Anyway, so the first eight years, 2010 to 2018, I was the boss. He was right underneath me. And we don't do president, vice president roles. He knew I was the boss and he did vice president type stuff and picked up a lot of loose ends that I was dropping. And then once COVID started, which I think was in the middle of 2019, maybe can't remember, I was in Oklahoma when they started shutting stuff down. So obviously it slowed down to where the permian was running.


[23:29] Shane Stolp: Okay.


[23:29] Matt Walker: About 30%, me and him were kind of just hanging out and we have some other businesses that we just dabble in. And when the oil field fired back up, for some reason he was just chomping at the bit and so we came out of that and now he's the boss.


[23:49] Shane Stolp: And you work for him and I work for him. Well, that's awesome. It's funny how that is my staff, as we grew, one thing that was hard for me, Matt, was dealing with this title stuff and you got to have a certain structure. And I used to be that kind of a guy. I'm just like, go do what you need to do, and call me if you got a problem. Right? Right. And so same thing with my brother and I. We were never super into that. But after we start assembling a team, all of a sudden, it's like, boy, it kind of matters to some people. We have also decided, those kind of people, that it matters too much. Too probably aren't a good fit for our team because we can write it down on a little piece of paper and whatever and satisfy some bank or somewhere or some financial statement or whatever that here's chart. Right. But at the end of the day, it doesn't matter. Get out and get the work done. And if the operator wants to do jumping jacks in between doing something, go do jumping jacks. Like, you don't need to call me to do jumping jacks. Yeah.


[24:49] Matt Walker: I even do it now with the food business, I always put sales on my card, and then same thing anytime I sign paperwork. I'm just a member, managing member, member. And you know what too is? Even, like, my financial advisors, they don't push for that kind of thing. I mean, sometimes they're a little more educated, and who's the dad? Who's the boss? I don't know, dude. It takes so many people that at any given time, there's probably three people doing the same, doing executive style decision making. And at walker, we have a lot of long term employees. There's probably a dozen or two of us that have been here since 2010, and those guys know better. They know how to get around. They know what's expected. And me and andy, we're not terribly overbearing. He can get a little testy, but I don't know. It's such a crazy job, and it's hard, and the weather is a factor. And being away from home, we found out pretty early. Put those together and then start writing somebody, and, you know, you'll create a culture that nobody wants to be around. The way the business is, the culture has to open up, and there has to be benefits there besides money. And usually what it becomes is it becomes like I don't want to say friendship, but, like, the people you work for are your peers and not your you know, they're not pushing you down, trying to climb up the ladder. If you could see me in person right now, you know what I was talking about. I'll leave here and go, who knows what I'll go do? But it won't be in an office because I don't have one.


[26:50] Shane Stolp: Yeah, if you're sitting in your office manager's office. Right. So you kicked the poor girl out for this podcast. She's walked by a few times glaring at you. So when we think about this employee thing, because you went from just you and your brother and dad and uncle to now over 100 employees. You have to adapt to how those employees think. But there's this thing in the business world, like culture. You have to talk about culture and culture. And my opinion on it has kind of been like, no, you don't. You actually need to put your boots on, go hang out with your employees for a while and then see what their problems are and live them. And then so when I'm in Houston, Texas, meeting with some big executive in a twelve storey tower off the freeway, and this lady is like, well, we just got to push these guys. We can't be working more than 40 hours. They need work life balance. I'm like, well, listen, ma'am, you don't actually know who works in the oil field.


[27:44] Matt Walker: That's right.


[27:45] Shane Stolp: It's not even things they value, and they ain't going to be around. So if we go down that road, we aren't going to have crews for you to get the work done. And by the way, it's not just me. You might find some Chicago investor who thinks he can put together a company doing that and make really good money. But that isn't the reality. When I'm sitting. It was three weeks ago, we were having this internal debate, me and the electrical president, about an issue. And I ended up having to go to North Dakota for whatever, some conference, and landed in Williston. And the plane was doing that, like, on the runway in Williston and the cart went flying across the runway, so they had to go catch there before we could get off. And there's a vice president of an oil field company sitting next to me and she says, Is this normal? I said, oh, yeah, no, we haven't flipped yet. Like, this is totally normal. I haven't done that yet. But it's 24 hours later. I called my electrical presidents. Guess what, dude? The decision you know what the decision is? We got to stay out of this. They got it handled. We were making up a problem in the office that did first, when I put my boots on and went out and sat on that site that the wind was following, it was 40 degrees. It felt like it might as well have been 20 below. My ear lobes were frozen. My feet were frozen in my steel toes. My heart hat wanted to blow off. That's the reality of what we're working in. Yes.


[29:07] Matt Walker: They didn't have that problem.


[29:09] Shane Stolp: No. We were making some big old mathematical problem back at the office that they could give two flips about. They had a site to get energized. And I got to believe in the pressure testing business. It's the same thing. If you were to show up and ask them guys, how can we get more efficient? They'd probably grab one of those pressure gauges and shove it. Word.


[29:28] Matt Walker: Yeah. No, it's same world. Essentially every pressure test is the same, right? But every piece of equipment is a little different or every rig is a little different or frack site. And then two is a lot of people don't put this into perspective. Is pressure testing is a funny spot. And you're almost like the stepchild. You are testing a drilling contractor's equipment for an oil and gas operator. So they're required to have equipment that can do the job. And that's what the oil and gas operator is looking for. So here you latch on to so and so drilling companies. Bops. You start lighting them up, and the oil guys watching you like, they better work now. Pretty soon you got the driller. Come on, dude, let's get it done. The operator and you get stuck in that middle. And like you were saying, is if you throw some Brad out there that doesn't know how to handle himself with other men or women or whatever the case is, you got to be pretty slick out there. Like, how do you defuse problems between the two? How do you find a problem and get it worked out quickly before anybody else realizes it's a problem? You start popping red flags off and guys start getting weird. I mean, for a pressure tester to go out, do your job, and when there's a test that's failing, be able to troubleshoot navigate and fix it. And then too, like I said, it sounds okay. Well, that doesn't sound too bad, but like you said, well, you're 25 miles north of Wilson, 25 below zero. The water is freezing, the winds howling, nobody's coming to help you, and your nearest companion is 400 miles away. Now, work through that scenario out here on this rig real quick. Thank you. It's just not exactly as it appears. And so when guys from the field call with problems, you better be willing to just sit down and help figure them out from the phone, because you're not standing there. Employees are a funny game. And two is a lot of people in different industries don't realize the mindset of an oilfield employee or an oil field even owner like me. And you were saying if your phone rang right now, you'd say, Mail, man, I gotta go to Wilston. Let's catch up next Wednesday. I do the same. I mean, you know, it is what it is. And those guys, like, said, they like to work. And if they're on schedule, they work as hard as they can. They go home for ten days, reboot, come back, pull a 20 day shift, and they better be houred up. That's what they're looking for.


[32:36] Shane Stolp: Yeah, right. I think it's really the lesson for me in the culture world or War and the business thing and all these business books, it's like, no, no, no. What it requires is the owner of the business, the manager of the business or whatever, to live the same life that the employee is. If I expect the employee to answer a call at 02:00 in the morning. Well, then I better be willing to hold off on my meetings this week and head down to Carlsbad, New Mexico, to Martinville, Michigan, Marshfield, Wisconsin, wherever the gas companies got the job going on that just went south, I better be willing to do that exact same thing. And I just think that's missing in today's world because of what we started with. People think, oh, well, you've made it, you're successful now. So like and by the way, I don't know what defines that, but there's a lot of unsuccessful people who know what it looks like. They figure that means, I don't know, you have conferences and you sit in a conference room and you have a gal bring you coffee or something and it's so far from the truth.


[33:31] Matt Walker: So when I first started a field office just outside of Denver, andedarcho at the time was a big player right outside of Denver, and I loved working there too. I don't know if you probably have if you've worked out or in the DJ Basin much.


[33:54] Shane Stolp: No, I haven't.


[33:55] Matt Walker: Oh, well, it's in town, like north of Denver. I mean, the towns don't stop, they're just suburbs till you get to the Wyoming border and then the lights go off like I always thought. It's funny in Wyoming, you'd drive 180 miles out to the rig, be in the middle of nowhere for a day. Anyway, I get to Colorado and the wells don't have as much gas pressure. They're a little bit shallower and it's easier drilling, so they go faster. The rigs are a little smaller. Hell, you're just sitting there on a rig and you can see a Chick fil A across the street like, well, I can't wait to get this done. I'm going to go. And I've never experienced that. So when I first got down there, I mean, I just slept in the truck. And then when I got busy, I just called my wife and said, hey, grab some stuff and I'm going to get us an apartment. And here we go. So stay down there six or nine months and the kids were little enough that they didn't have school and just started building some infrastructure. And the Colorado stuff has been one of my most important assets. It's just been such a steady returner for us. And Denver is a big oil field hub. There's a lot of brass in Denver. So operating and having that zip code going on is important for connecting the dots to where me and Andy try to do this thing. In pressure testing, where we want to work for multiple operators in multiple places, we want these companies to know that the exact same test that we're doing in New Mexico or Wyoming under the strictest federal guidelines is the same test we'll do in Colorado, where it's private land and the same rules don't apply. Or if you're in Texas wild west. And I don't know all what applies there, but there's plenty. And when we build a procedure, it will fit their policy, and then they won't have to worry about all these things like, you know, Joe Blow comes out and test it his way. And when they get to the next federal pad, nothing will work. So we've done a really good job with that is like we've got some companies, we work 90% of their equipment in every basin except Pennsylvania and that's a big deal to them and to us. And I know we've been recognized for it in their world. We've been pulled in on some and been the keynote speaker in some conferences that the oil and gas operators put together about just being transparent and like stacking like here's how we do it in Wyoming, Colorado and everything's got a procedure. It's all the same but it's defined based on the area and the pressure and the equipment and the temperature. We've built tons of winterizing practices. We don't have to use those Texas very often but North Dakota, Wyoming, Montana and Utah that's their go to like this paper do this and you know, we help create those papers.


[37:22] Shane Stolp: That's awesome. Do you find that that helped you navigate some of the ups and downs being in multiple basins with multiple operators?


[37:29] Matt Walker: Oh yeah because some things that would happen was like take Wyoming and Colorado, we have a really strong presence in the completion and which I guess if you're clear out on automation and some of that things I'm sure you know but it might be unclear. Some of our listeners too is drilling rig moves off, goes to the next one and then a group of teams come in to start to bring this thing on. There's drill out, there's frack prep, there's frack, there's flow back, just world happening out there this city that's trying to get this beast to come alive. And we have a big presence in Wyoming and Colorado of working all the way through some of those things because at every stage there's something that's going to handle a serious amount of pressure and it's probably going to have guys standing over it. So those kind of gigs lead into where our good operators they would let us come in and start working on some production stuff too where production went the whole time. They might not be drilling, they may not be fracking but they're producing the product. And there are certain intervals where they probably necessarily didn't have to pressure test the equipment just because of federal guideline but they did anyway and we were grateful for that. It wasn't much or that was built by some of these relationships we have, especially take like Anadarko. That relationship is 15 years. Not to mention when I was running a drilling rig I was drilling wells for Anadarko and some of the same guys crossed. So there's another it gets to where some of these guys I've known since I was 17 years old.


[39:29] Shane Stolp: And it's such a small world. The more people you know in the business, the more it just expands upon itself. And then you keep running into each other and it is a crazy cool world. But how do you navigate if you have all these local relationships and then plus, you obviously have to show up at the corporate offices and deal with the suit and tie guys.


[39:50] Matt Walker: I don't do suit. Yeah, no, I don't do suit and ties, actually. Funny thing, my dad drives him nuts because my dad's really clean cut, well dressed. I'm not. And it's not because I'm rebellious or weird, either. I got a good sense of myself. Anyway, we would roll into some of these corporate offices and, man, he would be just beside himself. And I always told him, I said, I want them to see what they're going to get. And the other part is, is the guys that know me, they know what to expect. But they also know, too, on the field level side, nobody with a suit and tie is going to come in there and do what we can do. I can't do anything, what we could do. And he got to where he finally embraced it. Like, let this crazy ******* go in there and get after it. Who knows? I don't know. How do I navigate those so LinkedIn twelve or 1300 contacts on my phone and I text, dude, I keep in touch with those guys. I mean, the company representative from Company X that's now, I don't know if we're supposed to say company names or not.


[41:09] Shane Stolp: Yeah, probably should.


[41:10] Matt Walker: Okay, company X, that now is the drilling super. Like, I keep in touch all the time. I got about 50 or 60 men that I've worked with through the years that we talk, we hunt together. They come up to Wyoming during hunting season, and I got a little spot up here with a cabin that it just doesn't have actually anything to do with hunting. It's about hanging out and drinking a beer and talking trash. So those guys are always around and they like I said, that circle keeps growing of guys that I talk to.


[41:50] Shane Stolp: Every week, in my experience, anyway, one thing that you have to do is not change who you are just because you're talking to the rig supervisor or the rig people or the local supervisor. Yeah, that's going to be the same conversation as when you're down in Houston, over in Denver, over in Oklahoma, at the corporate level. But you can't because like you said, you don't want to change who you are. You don't want to set a false expectation.


[42:14] Matt Walker: Yeah, well, no, like I said, I'm motivated and I'm project driven. And that's what matters to me.


[42:28] Shane Stolp: Too.


[42:28] Matt Walker: Is once I found once like minded people work together in that regard. Like I said, it doesn't matter what you look like, boy, girl, color, hair, whatever. Once those teams get formed, it goes. Like I said, a lot of the connections I have in the oil field, like I said, those guys are very suit and tie. Every event, every conference, every whatever. And like I said, they never expect to see me there. When stuff gets real in the field, they got my cell phone number, and they know I don't want to be at those things. Call me when it gets rough out here. We'll just keep going. I've never liked that. I was like that in school, too. I couldn't act just because I wasn't out of line or this or that. I was just I found a way that worked for me and I never stopped.


[43:28] Shane Stolp: I think it's a wyoming thing. Everyone I've met from wyoming is just true to the core, and it's awesome. And it's not just wyoming. I guess if I think no, it's an oil field thing. It's who we are. The oil and gas industry is made up of a bunch of realists. We're not the people who are on CNN running around blabbing our mouth about something that we don't know just because we saw a headline. We're feeling this thing. We feel the energy issues and where we're going. But if you just acquired some assets in 20 different some setups down there, you must be pretty bullish or whatever the word they use, optimistic about the oil industry, oil and gas industry and where we're headed. You're feeling pretty good.


[44:10] Matt Walker: Yeah, well, it's what I've got. I mean, it's the space I live in. Things I know are a sure they're going to try to reduce oil and gas output to try to try to pull some renewable energies on, and I'm plumb fine with that, too. I am not an oil and gas or die. I mean, I don't like the wind energy thing because I think it's false hope and it's ugly. But if you can find some other sources, that's cool. I mean, just don't mask them. But no, that's what I do. That's what we do. We work in the oil and gas industry. And honestly, too, there's a lot of opportunities civilly for pressure testing pipelining and municipalities, and I've done some government jobs in salt lake city, precision bolt torquing. There's a lot of opportunities there. It doesn't necessarily only depend on the oil field. The oil field is just the space that I like to operate in. But yeah, I don't look long term. My business will be around in 20 years. I don't know how many dips in the road there'll be, but I expect to get three years out of this one, like three really good, solid ones before we see some heartache. And by then, I'll be situated.


[45:40] Shane Stolp: You obviously played with that in your head when you went and made that acquisition. That, how far is this going to go? And what's my return to be, but it sounds like, Mr. Scrappy, you just knew it was a good deal, so you went for it. You knew it was going to be a good fit.


[45:52] Matt Walker: Well, yeah, few things is anytime in my experience, is they had something they wanted to do and it left the assets undervalued. Well, depending on the value and the undervalue, some of those are passing them up is missing the opportunity. So that was a big thing for me is their direction shift and the speed in which they wanted to do it. And I have to assume they were fixing to try to make a pile of money somewhere else. But manufacturing is where they're headed. But it let this pile of assets that technically are unusable to anybody but a pressure tester. As me and Andy worked through the numbers, I mean, it was so undervalued just based on the situation that we couldn't not and then how this goes is, say like that by that acquisition being done and those posts being made on LinkedIn, a few things. It sets an example too in the industry. It shows that some of us are making strategic plays like we're not just shoveling money into our pocket until the next bust. We are positioning and acquiring. Like I said, is that company couldn't just leave that equipment, couldn't just hit the auction block to be stripped. Like there's enough rigs in Texas that even with all 40 of our units down there or whatever it is between Walker and this other company, you can't even get 10% or 15% of the margin or the market doesn't there's not enough manner people. So having 20 units at the auction block is not going to do anybody any good.


[48:02] Shane Stolp: Right. We're already underserved and understood.


[48:08] Matt Walker: All the way.


[48:10] Shane Stolp: When you think about going forward from here, though, and you think about how you made that acquisition happen, how in the world, because people in this industry, they're always like, oil and gas is dying. We don't want to finance oil and gas. You can hardly get a line of credit to fund your 90 day receivables. I mean, when we had do factoring just to convince ourselves that this was a legit business and thankfully, as things go, you get away from all that. But how would you pull a deal like that off? You just said, we're sending this sucker around. You felt good enough to throw it all at it.


[48:46] Matt Walker: Sure, I have a little cash laying around, like I said, from a few different businesses, but no, one of the things too was in order for some of that to happen. There was some cash down, there were some owner financing, and then there was some future payments of good faith. But yeah, it's a mixture of different options.


[49:13] Shane Stolp: You want with it, it's because you're scrappy enough to not get hung up on all these exact details. You just saw assets undervalued business opportunity that we can't let it go because the market isn't a tough enough spot bolted on. Let's go. And then you got a team of people around you saying, yeah, but Matt, you just keep saying, yeah, okay, well, here's how we'll handle that one. Here's how we'll deal with that. Let's keep going.


[49:34] Matt Walker: The nice thing about this one is I didn't have to go to a bank. Like I said, I was able to put the deal together where between the two companies we were going to get to the end. I was going to show consideration and start pouring money in there. I was going to take the burden off them of health care, wages, fuel, right? Because that comes to me. So now that's an advantage they have on the manufacturing side. And then also to is the thing started making money. I have this progression that I will pay out. And that's kind of what I meant by the undervalued. I mean, if you would have had to just show up and stroke the check, that one would have clinched you would have clinched them. But it was designed to where both parties got what they were after. They couldn't shut it down. They had 37 employees. It was still generating money, but it had this bag too. And here they are trying to switch all their capital over to manufacturing and remanufacturing and some of those bills just were in the way. And here I came with some cash, some relief and then some future payments. Like I said, the cool part was the lawyers figured out the bowl, the jazz, whatever is in there, I read it, but you know, those three quarters of it flew over the Air Force and the Hurontoos and the whatevers, but the deal was banged out in plain language. Hands were shook and then there was nothing signed too before I took over operations. That's how important this deal was. To was when me, Andy and that owner shook hands on the deal.


[51:25] Shane Stolp: We.


[51:25] Matt Walker: Handed him a check for X amount of dollars. Just right here. Here it is. We're going to get started. Here's your couple hundred grand. Lawyers will be going to work on it. Sounds good. So that was pretty unique. A lot of things don't happen like that.


[51:41] Shane Stolp: No, they don't. And I think it's missing in the whole society conversation about the bad oil and gas people who are just taking money and going on exotifications. It still is not true. Any earnings we have right now, we're reinvesting in capital. Whether it's trucks to put more crews to work, whether it's safety gear, whether it's is networld, whether it's PC, name it. We're throwing money back into this business like no one's business. And sometimes it can be almost like scary. Like, I can't believe I just wrote that check. What was I thinking? Buy eight trucks. I hope the markets got a year to go because it takes at least a year before you even break even on anything in this business. But I'm with you. I think we got a long ways to go in this business, and there's a lot of cool things. Matt, I know you're a busy guy, and you got to go. So we didn't get a chance to hit on a couple of other topics. It's awesome to meet another guy in the oil field. One of these days, we'll sit down in person, we'll have a good lunch together, and hopefully think about how you started a food company during COVID and how in the world you can keep that many operators happy at once. We work in a demanding industry where these operators are up our throat getting things done, and we got to flex into that. So I just want to say, awesome job. It's so cool to see folks in this business succeed. It's a help to me. I've only been in the business ten years. We went from five people to a couple of hundred people. It's been quite a ride. We've had the ups and downs, and it's just awesome to meet some other scrappy people who claim they don't know what they're doing, but they're making it, and that's where we find ourselves and all of our listeners. So it's really good.


[53:17] Matt Walker: Well, but the good work. Well, I mean, I'm with you. It's nice to meet you, too. Where you're in the industry and you have a podcast like this, it's bringing some of this to light. I mean, it doesn't have to be me or Riley or whoever. There's so many people that are doing such a great job you, me, him. But, yeah, it's funny. I don't know what we're doing, but we kind of do.


[53:42] Shane Stolp: Yeah, we're making something happen. Right? Because I know one thing. I woke up this morning. It was 31 degrees where I live, and my house was warm. I know yesterday I had to go down a few hours away to a funeral, and I had the gas to get there and back. I know I had a conference in North Dakota a few weeks ago that I flew to, and I know I got to present myself at a safety incident meeting for an operator in two weeks down in Carlsbad, New Mexico, and I know that the plane will get me there. We are doing something here.


[54:07] Matt Walker: Yeah.


[54:07] Shane Stolp: Nobody knows what we're doing, but, hey, here we are. And we're trying to educate the folks at hey, put your boots on. Get some energy behind you. We got things to do.


[54:16] Matt Walker: That's where we're at. At Walker. Put your boots on. Go to work.


[54:20] Shane Stolp: Well, hey, Matt, thanks for your time.


[54:22] Matt Walker: Let you go.


[54:23] Shane Stolp: I know you got big things going on, but we'll catch you on the flip side. Thanks for your time.


[54:28] Matt Walker: Call or text anytime, buddy.


[54:30] Shane Stolp: Okay, thanks. I appreciate that. Take care.