Red River Supply
Red River Supply’s leadership and staff know that a willingness to diversify and adapt to market changes is necessary to be successful in the highly competitive oilfield industry. After 35 years in business, the Williston, N.D.-based company continues to add to its core services and invest in its future.
Company owner Rich Vestal established the company as Red River Mud in 1978 after the drilling fluids company he worked for as a mud hand went bankrupt. Initially, his new company offered drilling fluids and other bulk products before branching out into trucking and warehouse services, necessitating the name change to Red River Supply in the early 1980s.
This diversification helped the company survive the North Dakota oilfield bust of the mid to late 1980s, when it relied on its trucking capabilities to survive. With its leanest years now behind it, Red River Supply is positioned as a major provider of logistics, transportation, warehousing and fluids to the region.
“We’ve learned how to deal with unfamiliar things very quickly and added people and services while retaining the personalized service of a family owned company,” says Torrey Vestal, director of project development and procurement and Rich Vestal’s son. “My parents come into work every day and interact with our clients; they’re not in a boardroom somewhere. That makes all the difference when it comes to customer service and solving problems.”
Red River Supply strengthened its position in the industry by greatly increasing its transloading capabilities during the past five years. “There are so many trucks coming up here now that there’s huge opportunities for railcar transloading if you build an efficient rail site,” Torrey Vestal says. “There are a lot of companies that don’t have access to rail, and we can be very competitive just because of that.”
The company in 2012 completed work on a railyard with close to six miles of track in Williston, its fourth facility. The yard serves box cars, dry bulk cars and liquid cars, and can handle materials including palletized and bulk dry goods, crude oil and drill pipe and casing.
Red River Supply’s other facilities include a main yard, which opened three years ago and houses a railyard, administrative offices and two warehouses that offer a combined 100,000 square feet of storage space. Clients use the warehouse space to store oilfield materials including drilling fluids, soil stabilization materials, dust control products and proppants. Office operations were moved to the new location from Red River Supply’s original location, now referred to as its west yard, which it continues to use for transloading as well as product processing.
Products handled in the west yard include gypsum and fly ash, which are bagged and distributed to companies working in pit reclamation. Red River Supply also bags an environmentally friendly cutting solidification compound product and processes, mixes and stores calcium chloride and calcium bromide water in the yard.
The company’s third facility includes an invert drilling fluid plant where drilling fluids and other products are produced, as well as a chemical plant where hydrochloric acid and other chemicals used in fracking are blended.
Red River Supply’s railyard operations will likely drive the rest of the company’s business moving forward. “Most of our future plans revolve around the new railyard, and that will probably be a larger part of our growth that anything else we’re doing,” Torrey Vestal says. “We are getting phone calls every day about the new railyard, since there’s so many people who want to use it. We see the potential there as limitless.”