When JW Brake started Rig Works Inc., it was because of urging from his customers. Brake had extensive experience in the service side of the oil and gas industry, but suggestions from customers encouraged him to get into the rig production and repair business. Since then, Brake has found that listening to his customers is the best way to get his company to grow and prosper.
“My wife and I started this company on July 1, 2005,” Brake says. “We had the input of 10 to 11 guys with 400-plus years of experience to design our first product, and this experience allows our products to continue to be successful. My experience is in the service side of the business, but customers and prospective customers led us to be a rig manufacturer to better take care of their needs.
“If you listen to your customers, they will lead you to where you need to be,” he adds. “We know that, so we provide only what customers want, instead of leading them to what we offer.”
Based in Odessa, Texas, Rig Works started primarily as a repair shop, Brake explains. In the first year, 75 percent of its business was in service and 25 percent was from new manufacturing. The company started with one mast design and three employees, working primarily in the Permian Basin and Barnett Shale. Today, 25 percent of Rig Works’ business comes from service and 75 percent comes from new manufacturing. It also has more than 20 mast models and a current collective of eight rig unit models.
“When we started, we weren’t sure if we would be a repair shop or a manufacturer or if we would just serve the end users,” Brake notes. “Our customers dictated the manufacturing direction. We feel God has a plan for our lives, and this is where we should be. And we want to give Him all the glory & honor!”
Working out of a 120,000-square-foot facility, Rig Works manufactures rigs, refurbishes and repairs customers’ rigs, provides field services and parts. Its manufacturing of proprietary items involves drawworks, masts, carriers and brake rims. Rig Works uses only the highest quality of buy-out OEM components within the Rig Works products such as Crosby/McKissick traveling blocks and sheaves, Parmac hydromatic brakes and Parker hydraulic pumps, controls and cylinders, Allison Automatic Transmissions, Dana Axles and Kobelt Discs.
“We have a real emphasis on service after the sale,” Brake says. “All of our sales result in repeat sales, and our service is a big part of that.”
Rig Works’ quality starts long before the sale. The company is API-licensed and conducts an internal, self-imposed audit annually; API also audits the facility annually. Brake notes that Rig Works’ standards are “very high” to ensure customers’ needs are met.
“We want our products to be known for their longevity, so we use the best components and materials that we can buy,” he says. “Traceability and manufacturer’s accountability has to be in all of the products we buy. We also have a patent on our drawworks. We are the only manufacturer of service equipment with patented drawworks with self-energized brakes. Just a small percent of companies in our market have an API license, and we are one of them.”
Rig Works has found that its customers are requiring taller and higher-capacity masts and more dynamic drawworks in their rigs as a result of drilling in shale plays where operators must drill, complete, workover and service extensive depths and lengths.
“Our product continues to evolve, and we definitely have more safety features now because operators want a product with long life that can perform with a strong safety record,” says Dan Powers, director of sales and marketing. “We plan to continue enhancing the safety aspect. We’ve found that service to our customers has boosted our development of new features.”
Rig Works has two engineers and a designer on staff who are involved in the design of the products. Customers reach out to Rig Works to help them realize the vision for their rigs.
“I’m really proud of how our company has evolved and of the quality of our products,” Brake says. “We believe in the Psalms verse 107:1 that says ‘Give thanks unto the Lord for he is good, for his mercy endureth forever.’ That really shows in all of our great customers, our employees and personnel, and the great vendor support we receive. We plan to keep going where customers lead us.”