Instead of transporting a variety of materials to oilwells nationally, Lake Truck Lines specializes in the transport of barite and cement in Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and New Mexico. Barite is a weighting and lubricating agent used in oil drilling fluid, and the cement is mixed with water and other chemicals so it will harden on the inside of well bores.
Last year, Lake Truck Lines began storing barite in silos in its yard so it could supply its clients with it reliably and quickly, 24/7. Since moving its headquarters from Houston to San Antonio three years ago, the company also has established both Lake Oilfield Services, which sells and leases oilfield equipment for cementing and drilling fluids, and Lake Manufacturing, which builds the company’s proprietary two-pod and three-pod trailers. The company also builds pressurized silos for storing dry bulk cement, low-pressure silos for storing barite, “pig tanks” (horizonal silos) for storage of field or yard materials and field bin units for the mixing of cement.
President, CEO and owner Douglas Cain attributes family owned and managed Lake Truck Lines’ 65 years of longevity to innovative thinking. “We’re constantly reexamining new ways to expand and get better,” he explains. “We find new markets to go after. Timing is everything, and being able to make quick, informed decisions.” Lake Truck Lines moved to San Antonio to service its clients at the Eagle Ford Shale. “Coming here to the Eagle Ford allowed us to have a good jumping-off point into the Permian Basin,” Cain adds.
The move to the Permian Basin has enabled Lake Truck Lines to open locations in Hobbs, N.M., and Odessa and Snyder, Texas. The company operates out of clients’ facilities in Houston, Corpus Christi and Beeville, Texas. Cain expects to offer services in the Galveston, Texas, area by the end of this year.
Its locations enable Lake Truck Lines’ deliveries to be mostly short hauls from 60 to 150 miles. Most of the drivers of the company’s fleet of approximately 100 units are home every night. This contributes to the company’s low 10 percent rate of driver turnover.
Lake Truck Lines also develops and trains its employees and drivers in what it calls Lake University, which consists of a series of training programs. “We use it for staff development and also enhanced driver stability and retention,” Cain explains.
Designing and building its own trailers has allowed Lake Truck Lines to save from 10 to 15 minutes unloading material per truckload, Cain maintains. “When you think of the thousands and thousands of loads we haul, that is a tremendous amount of savings,” he points out. “After years and years of being in this business, we’ve learned some of the things that impede the flow of the material out of the trailers. Our trailers load faster than any others in the industry. They’re built specifically for the oilfields that we service based upon their length, weight and unloading characteristics.”
It was not only the efficiency of the trailers’ designs but also the industry shortage of trailers that motivated the company to manufacture its own. “It was pretty much out of necessity that we started developing our own equipment,” Cain concedes. “Three or four years ago, you could not find trailers. The explosion of the dry bulk industry over the last 10 to 15 years made it practically impossible to buy anything with any kind of decent lead-times. We could normally build our trailers within about three weeks, and for most trailers back then, you could see delivery times of nine to 12 months.”
Lake Manufacturing builds its products in Torreon, Mexico, which is near the oilfields that are developing in that country over the Permian Basin, which is called the Burgos Basin in Mexico. Cain sees opportunities developing on both sides of the border.
“I believe the Permian Basin is going to drill more wells in the next three years than in its first 60 years,” Cain declares. He is equally optimistic about the Cline Shale play. “I really believe in the next couple years they will crack the code and be able to frack those wells just as easily as they’ve been fracking in the Eagle Ford and the Permian,” Cain asserts.
He looks at the company’s 65th anniversary in August as a time to make plans instead of examining the past. “We couldn’t be more looking forward to the 65th anniversary, because it allows us to really look forward,” Cain concludes. “We’re really focused on what we’re doing in the future.”