Chad Drake came to North Dakota six years ago seeking an opportunity to work on an oil rig in the Bakken Shale. Drake, a carpenter by trade who had previously lived and worked in Montana before the decline of the national housing market, sought a permanent position that could alternate with a farmhouse rehabilitation project he was performing near Ross, N.D.
One night in 2010, during a gathering at a local bar, Drake and a few others who were waiting to hear from oil exploration companies about permanent positions on a rig decided to take the initiative to find work on their own. Drake and his associates established a company, now known as NoDak Oilfield Services, initially to perform tasks such as washing or painting oil tanks. At the same time, Drake continued to work on carpentry projects.
After one early job, Drake struck up a conversation with an employee of an oil operations company – at a gathering in Plaza, N.D. – who mentioned his employer was seeking a regular contractor. This eventually led to an offer for NoDak of a master service agreement on the same day Drake was offered a job on an oil rig after more than a year of waiting.
“I had a decision to make,” Drake says. Seeking advice, he called his father, a geologist in Houston, who helped him weigh the pros and cons of each option. “Taking the contract was a risk, and I knew the work wouldn’t have been as secure as if I went to work for the big company, but the potential reward was much higher,” he says. NoDak began work on the contract in 2011.
Four years later, NoDak has grown from a small group of people performing odd jobs to a company of more than 150 employees that has seen 300 percent annual growth each year since its inception, Drake notes. The company offers three main services: insulation of pipes, tanks and vessels; construction services; and coatings, including pressure washing and painting.
NoDak operates a full-service, full-time manufacturing facility for insulation blankets at its facility in Williston, N.D. “We are the only insulation contractor that operates a manufacturing facility here,” he adds. In addition, the company carries a wide assortment of insulation materials in stock and has the ability to quickly receive special orders from its suppliers.
The company’s construction experience includes building treater buildings, compressor stations, manifold buildings, saltwater disposal buildings and custom-built structures.
Drake says the company is in the process of exploring new markets for its services while remaining involved with the oil and gas industry. “We’re getting into more commercial applications including foodservice and mechanical installation,” he says. “We are trying to stay ahead of the market.”
A Clear Vision
All of the company’s services are based on the same “old-fashioned” principle, which also serves as NoDak’s vision statement: “I want to offer my clients the best quality and the best service at the fairest price,” Drake says.
This vision has its roots in Drake’s past experience in building high-end custom vacation homes in Montana. “There’s a much higher degree of craftsmanship with these homes, which is what I was used to,” he says. “When I first came out here, I noticed that much of the work being done here wasn’t up to snuff; I couldn’t sleep with myself at night if I was the person doing it. I wanted to bring quality to the region and establish myself as the best qualified to do the job.”
NoDak ensures quality in its projects by hiring experienced employees. “I believe in paying my employees more than my competitors and charging my clients less than my competitors,” Drake says.
“In doing so, I get a better group of employees who have more pride in what they do and who they work for and my clients get a higher-quality finished product,” he continues.
Drake believes in treating employees “like family.” “They know that when I’m going out to work for the company, I’m very honest with everyone here about what the expectations are of them,” he adds.
In addition to treating employees well, Drake believes in giving back to the community that has made his company a success. This includes donating to local fire and police departments as well as schools and athletic organizations. “When we first moved from Ross to Williston, there were a number of people here who really made me fall in love with the place,” he says.
“As North Dakota has been good to me, I believe I should be good to North Dakota by being very active in giving back to each of the communities we work in,” Drake adds.