As a diversified oilfield services company with six service lines and 30 U.S. locations, Express Energy Services knows exactly where it wants to go and has mapped out a clear path to get there. Founded in 2000, the company provides drilling, completion and production and offshore plug and abandonment services in major U.S. basins.
“Our goal is to become a preferred provider to our customers,” Executive Vice President Mark Haubert says. “We focus on customers that have similar core values, safety commitments, high level of integrity and who are looking for a long-term business partner. We’ve aligned ourselves with those customers and have transformed our customer base from primarily small independents to more major operators and multinationals today. And we’ve accomplished that over the last three years.”
Back in 2011 when Haubert joined the Texas-based company, Express Energy Services gathered its senior leaders to define the core values that would guide its business decisions and growth strategies into the future. The team created SPIRE – standing for “safety, people, integrity, responsibility and excellence,” and Haubert says each one is critical to the company’s operation.
“Especially safety,” Haubert says. “Safety in particular is No. 1. First and foremost, we want to ensure we provide a safe work environment for employees at our facilities and at the customers’ rigs and worksites. We want employees to go home to their families just the way they came to work.”
Express Energy Services has implemented a robust health, safety and environmental (HS&E) management system to ensure just that. Tools include its 5×5 program, which is a list of five safety questions given to each employee and imprinted on their work sleeves that employees should ask before proceeding with onsite work. It also developed a procedure called Take 10 for 10, in which managers are encouraged to engage workers in periodic 10-minute safety discussions . Also, the company reassures workers at every level with stop-work authority. If an employee feels unsafe with procedures on the job site, that employee can issue a stop-work card and speak with the client about using safer procedures.
“Our HS&E management system rivals that of any service company and it also exceeds the safety requirements of some of our customers,” Haubert explains. “We’ve been more effective at integrating safety into our culture on a daily basis than our peers.”
And the reason for that may be because the other four factors of its core values – people, integrity, responsibility, excellence – all, in some way, support Express Energy Services’ safety mission.
Education is Key
With people, for instance, Express Energy Services has focused on hiring the best quality it can find and providing those employees with career development tools such as technical training and leadership skills. Over the last few years, Express Energy has been on a bit of a hiring spree, growing its workforce by 40 percent. Three years ago, the company created Express University (EU) to guarantee itself an exceptional workforce. It has trained more than 2,000 employees at EU to date.
“Employees who pass through EU receive four days of new employee development training which focuses on our core values and our safety tools,” Haubert says. “Then, many will stay on or will come back later for an additional four days of more in-depth technical and operational training in their particular service line, whether that’s casing or well testing, for instance. They get a combination of hands-on and classroom training. We’ve also installed SPIRE Rig #1 with a shallow well that can be used for hands-on training.”
With thorough training, Express Energy Services gives its employees what they need to meet core values three through five: integrity, responsibility and excellence. Haubert says integrity defines every relationship at the company both internal and external, ensuring that everyone is “doing the right thing, even when no one is looking … such as following through on commitments, accepting and following company policies as well as local and federal rules and regulations.”
Responsibility, its fourth core value, means each individual takes a personal stake in his or her performance. And because each employee is responsible for his or her performance, then each has an incentive to perform work with an aim for excellence, which is Express Energy Service’s fifth core value.
“If, as a company, we want to perform the best we can and deliver the best quality, we have to challenge each individual to perform at their highest level and strive for excellence,” Haubert explains. “When you think about other trades, such as plumbing, for instance, plumbers have to go through levels of development from apprentice to journeyman to master. It takes time to receive that training and to practice the craft to become a master.”
SPIRE has helped Express Energy Services launch itself into a new arena within the oilfield services industry. The company’s safety improvements have put it on a playing field where it’s qualified to work for large and multinational companies that hold stringent safety requirements. Last year, it reduced its total recordable incident rate by 35 percent and has had its HS&E management system evaluated by external industry monitoring groups.
The company has not only proven itself among customers, but among its competition, as well. Last year, Express Energy Services began creating in-house safety training videos that have actually been adopted by external companies. So far it has created three training videos including a heat safety video, a fall protection video and “Left Undone,” which educates workers on proper procedures when working with hydrogen sulfide gas (H2S) on the job. “Left Undone” was recently announced as a finalist for the Oil & Gas Awards Excellence in Healthy and Safety recognition. The production, which features mostly in-house employees, has been viewed in 35 countries and by more than 500 companies. It has also been endorsed by the American National Standards Institute and the American Society of Safety Engineers.
“‘Left Undone’ was developed and produced internally with only three external actors and it was a production that really hit home because of the emotional connection with people about their families,” Haubert says. “Our aim was to educate our employees as well as the general oilfield community about hazards when working around H2S. We’ve posted these videos on our website and they can be viewed by anyone free of charge.”
As the company continues to develop its standing in the industry – its CEO Darron Anderson was selected as a nominee for the Gulf Coast Ernst & Young 2013 Entrepreneur of the Year and the company is one of Houston’s fastest-growing companies – Haubert says that it will continue to grow both organically and through acquisition, forming long-term relationships with high-quality customers.
“We anticipate a fairly flat market in terms of activity, but we still anticipate company growth this year,” Haubert says. “We expect to grow organically by strengthening relationships with our business partners across the regions we work in and across our portfolio of service offerings. We have strong relationships with our customers, and we feel we can leverage off of those and continue to strengthen them to become their preferred provider.”