To emphasize his family’s longevity in the oilfield services industry, Jason Smith named his company after his grandfather who started in the industry and who was nicknamed “Boots.” Owner of Boots Smith Oilfield Services LLC, which he founded in 2003, Smith had joined his father Sonny’s company, G.B. Boots Smith Corp., in the 1990s. His grandfather founded that company in the 1950s.
Boots Smith Oilfield Services LLC performs pipeline and directional drilling services and various oilfield services, including rig moving, location building, fluid haul and transportation.
“Half of our business is environmental and transportation in the way of drilling rigs and fluids, and half of our business is cross-country pipeline and directional drilling,” Jason Smith says. “Directional drilling is pretty popular now.”
The variety of projects on which Boots Smith Oilfield Services LLC can work are demonstrated by several current ones. In Williston, N.D., the company is building a gathering system for a major oil company’s gas and oil field. Boots Smith Oilfield Services is building pipelines to move gas and oil to a rail terminal for transport to a refinery.
In Mississippi, Boots Smith is flooding an oilfield with carbon dioxide to encourage additional oil production. This requires clearing and grade equipment and directional drilling rigs to drill layers of piping. In Louisiana, the company is building a five-mile, 24-inch-diameter pipeline for natural gas that extends under the intercoastal waterway.
What does it take to receive projects from the major oil companies? “It takes a long time doing the smaller jobs for the smaller companies, and doing a good job and being able to go out to a major with a good resume on a lot of the smaller jobs, and having a good safety record,” Smith emphasizes. “Being able to make it through a major safety audit is a big achievement.”
The oil and gas companies require safety audits to earn their business. “Having a good safety program, and budgeting a lot of money for the safety program every year is something we’re proud of,” Smith declares. “On every job, it’s job-specific. You go to school and take numerous hours of safety classes for each job before you’re able to go to work.”
Smith estimates his company spends between 5 percent and 10 percent of its annual budget on its safety program. What else does he attribute for being able to obtain projects from the major oil companies? “Being able to make that adjustment on your safety and personnel, and hiring great employees, and being able to give each client what they need,” he says. “Every client is different. You have to meet the needs of your clients, whether a smaller company or a major.”
Boots Smith Oilfield Services purchases equipment from manufacturers for its use. At its headquarters in Laurel, Miss., the company also manufactures approximately 20 to 30 percent of the equipment it uses. “We probably will manufacture more and more of our own equipment,” Smith predicts. “Putting the safest equipment on the job with the most faithful people we can hire and train does give us an edge.”
Another competitive edge is the company’s investment in people and equipment. “We have the best people,” Smith says. “They work really hard and service our clients. They do really good work. We also have the newest and best equipment.”
He cites rig-moving equipment the company purchased in the last two years as being something that gives the company its competitive edge. “The rigs have gotten bigger and heavier, and it takes bigger, heavier equipment to lift and transport them,” Smith asserts. “The technology today is a lot better than back then. Two to three years ago, we were running the same type of equipment we moved rigs with 30 years ago.”
Another advantage is the company’s medium size and private management. “Being a well-capitalized, privately held company, you can adjust quicker to better service your clients and keep up with the market in our sector,” Smith maintains. “It’s just me and a small management team managing a medium-sized company. We’re a service company, so we have to give our clients what they need.”
For the future, the company will keep diversifying into different forms of oilfield services and growing its manufacturing side. “We’ll build equipment for ourselves, competitors and customers alike,” Smith says. He estimates approximately 5 percent of the company’s current manufacturing is for other companies and customers.
“We’re looking to get into completion services,” Smith says. “Right now, we’re just basically in transportation and exploration. What we’d like to be involved in is completing and servicing these older wells i throughout their lives.”