Bryce Shypkoski stands with his Cat 320EL as it digs in a flow line on an oil site near Dickinson, N.D.
When managing partners Bryce Shypkoski and Rosemary Hunter started Titan Oilfield Service in 2010, Shypkoski admits that his perception of Cat equipment was that it was expensive. Today, having recently purchased three Cat backhoe loaders, one tracked hydraulic excavator and a skid steer loader from Butler Machinery Company in Dickinson, N.D., he has discovered Cat equipment is quite competitive in price. In fact, he’s confident it will actually be less expensive in the long run.
“We haven’t had one single problem with our Cat equipment. There are times when we’re on a job that there are men and equipment valued at $5,000 an hour waiting on us to finish our job, so it’s important we get done when we say we will. Cat hasn’t ever let us down,” he said.
Shypkoski and Hunter started the company, based in Dickinson, nearly five years ago using the experience he had gained working as a roustabout for another company. Titan started with three trucks and six people. Today, the partners manage 30 crews and 95 employees.
“We do some new construction, but most of our work consists of maintenance, just about anything after the drilling rig is done,” Hunter explained, noting that she used to do everything from safety to payroll. Now, most of her time is spent managing Titan’s day-to-day activities and focusing on their future growth.
Needless to say, it is a labor-intensive business, which means that maintaining an adequate workforce is the biggest challenge, not only for Titan, but for a number of employers in western North Dakota.
“Turnover is a huge issue in this area,” Shypkoski said. “So we focus a lot on creating the type of work environment that allows us to attract good people and keep them. One way we do this is to make this difficult job as easy as possible, providing the newest and best equipment and tools is the first step.”
“We do our best to provide a good work/home balance,” Hunter added. “We strive to create a work environment that people enjoy. Everyone who works here is very proud to and it shows in all of our work.”
Shypkoski believes such employee relations have paid off in more ways than one. Not only have they had less turnover than most other companies in the area, but he points to a safety record of more than 300,000 hours without an incident — a feat that is “almost unheard of” in their business.
After developing a relationship with a Butler Machinery Company, they’ve also experienced less downtime and fewer equipment problems.
“Everything our Butler salesman, Jerry Heiser, has told us about Cat equipment has been true,” Shypkoski said. “The performance of Cat equipment has always backed up his statements. And the customer service has been amazing,” he added. “Everything from the amount of parts they keep in inventory to the way they follow through has just been outstanding. You see Cat equipment everywhere around here and there’s a reason for that.”
“The equipment has more power and it’s smoother and quieter to operate. The guys practically fight over who gets to use the Cat backhoes.” Shypkoski added.
Despite their best efforts, Shypkoski said there are still times their customers ask for even more. However, for Titan Oilfield Service, it’s still about balance. It takes balance to create a welcome work environment and it takes symmetry between equipment investment and projected growth. Fortunately, Shypkoski and Hunter have discovered an understanding partner in Butler Machinery that has helped with both issues.
This article was reprinted with permission from Butler Zone Spring 2015.