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Storm Co.: From Foreman to Owner

A man near retirement finds that he wasn't done yet by any means.

Fri June 26, 2015 - West Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

The Komatsu D65EX is put to work recently preparing an oil drilling location in southeast New Mexico.
The Komatsu D65EX is put to work recently preparing an oil drilling location in southeast New Mexico.
The Komatsu D65EX is put to work recently preparing an oil drilling location in southeast New Mexico. The Storm Construction Team (L-R) are Thomas Santo, Stephen Wilson Jr., David Wilson, Lonny Hufford, Roscoe Keys and Joshua Wilson. Stephen Wilson, owner of Storm Construction, and Rhonda DeLong, office manager.

The saying, "One door closes and another one opens," may be trite but is still very true. However, some doors can be harder to open than others depending on where one is in his or her career.

Stephen “Shorty” Wilson had spent the past 20 + years working as a foreman at Morgan Tools, a contractor that built locations for oil and gas industry in Artesia, N.M., when the company decided to close shop.

Wilson, already in his early 60s, needed to find a solution and fast. A big career move was necessary, not something many people enjoy doing when they’re nearing retirement age. But Wilson wasn’t done by any means. He decided to pursue a dream, and a challenging one at that.

He already knew the industry, so he thought that it was time to start his own company and pick up as much of the oil pad construction business as he could. Using another old saying, “better late than never,” Wilson founded his new business in March 2014, also in Artesia, N.M., naming it Storm Construction after his youngest son Destry (Storm) Wilson.

Storm Construction specializes in oil drilling pads, commonly called “locations” in the industry. These are slabs that oil rigs are set up on. The drilling pads vary in size, but are typically around 300 by 400 ft (91 by 122 m).

The work is challenging. Most of the sites in New Mexico require significant crushing and leveling, sometimes cutting them into the sides of mountains. Caliche dirt with rock is common but can create challenges for the equipment and operator.

Wilson determined that he needed to begin looking for a long-term solution at the very start of his company.

Having worked with Road Machinery for many years as foreman, Wilson naturally contacted the equipment dealer as he began to build his fleet.

Road Machinery of Carlsbad and Albuquerque offices works with us constantly," Wilson said. " They are always there when we need them. Paz (Manuel) Cono of Carlsbad and Robert Carrillo of Albuquerque have all been great about keeping us moving up the ladder to success.”

That relationship and trust led to the right equipment to handle the challenging and abundant caliche rock — a Komatsu D65 with a ripper attachment. Dozers with Rippers and Excavators are a necessity in this type of environment. Digging sometimes in solid rock formations is the only option when a well pad must be placed in a specific location.

“Komatsu’s equipment has always been top shelf, but we really appreciate the service we get from Road Machinery in general," Wilson said.

Storm Construction owns three D65 EX 17 dozers, a WA320 wheel loader and is looking to add a trackhoe from Komatsu in the upcoming month from Road Machinery. It also has three motorgraders, two backhoes and two dump trucks.

“It has been awesome to see them grow from nothing," Road Machinery’s Robert Carillo said. "They have become a great customer."

Storm Construction consists of seven employees, including Wilson’s three sons — David, Stephen Jr. and Joshua. To date, Storm Construction has built more than 40 locations, most on the Northwest Shelf of the Permian Basin in southeast New Mexico.

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