A good rig was hard to find in the 90s: So Mike Heier founded Trinidad Drilling, 20 years ago today

Mike Heier
Mike Heier, Chairman of the Board and Founder of Trinidad Drilling.
Trinidad Drilling is celebrating its 20th anniversary today! In honour of this milestone, we sat down with our founder, Michael Heier, for a look back at where we came from and what we’ve accomplished over the past two decades.

There was a time when a good rig was hard to find.

Michael Heier, who was running a private oil and gas company called Trinity Energy in the early 1990s, understood that problem at the gut level, and decided to do something about it.

“I had a couple of drilling rigs (from another company) working into our year end. Unbeknownst to me, they took them away from me, and we didn’t get all the drilling we needed done.

“I said, well, that’s not going to happen again,” reflected Heier, now the Board Chair of Trinidad. “Let’s build a couple of rigs. That’s how Trinidad started.”

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Trinidad Drilling reaches lowest TRIF in its history

Trinidad’s Canadian rigs are the safest they have ever been and some of the safest in the country.

“The company has achieved its lowest TRIF (total recordable incident frequency) in its history,” said Jay McNeil, Trinidad’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing. “In Canada, we’re 52 per cent better than the rest of the industry.”

At the end of June, the combined TRIF for Trinidad Specialty and Canadian Drilling was 1.48. A drilling company’s TRIF is a 12 month rolling average that indicates how often there is a recordable safety incident on a company’s rigs.

“This is an all-time low for us, so it’s a pretty significant milestone,” said McNeil. Continue reading

Trinidad’s CEO opens up about why safety really does matter

In the last of our three-part series featuring Trinidad’s CEO, Lyle Whitmarsh, we talk to the roughneck turned CEO about his top priority: the safety of everyone on his team.

Lyle Whitmarsh, CEO of Trinidad Drilling
Lyle Whitmarsh, CEO of Trinidad Drilling
A lot of companies say safety is a priority, but how important is it to you personally that every person who works for Trinidad is safe every day?

It’s honestly, for me, one of the most important things.

When I was in the field I was considered, I think, ahead of my time as far as being proactive in safety and actually supporting people who wanted to be safe . . . we, in this industry, haven’t always had that. Continue reading

Advice from a CEO: Rig work is not a job – it’s a career

A few weeks ago, we wrote a blog post about Lyle Whitmarsh’s journey from roughneck to CEO of Trinidad Drilling. During our conversation with him, Whitmarsh stressed that it’s important to understand that work in the oil and gas field can be a career, not just a job. Here are some of the insights and career advice Whitmarsh shared:

What advice would you offer to someone who’s green and just walking onto their first rig job?

Priority No. 1 is to keep yourself and your fellow workers safe.

I think the second thing is really believing and understanding that it’s a career. Back 20-some years ago, when I started, it wasn’t necessarily a career. Today, it is a professional career in my opinion – we work more days. And if it is a career choice, then you should take it as a career choice and apply yourself fully and really start to understand that the opportunity is very great for people entering into this business. Continue reading

From roughneck to CEO

Trinidad’s top dog knows how to pull a wrench

“I really did want to make a difference for the field employees and really show them that someone in the office could stay connected and represent all the people in the field.” – Lyle Whitmarsh, CEO of Trinidad Drilling

Lyle Whitmarsh, CEO of Trinidad Drilling
Lyle Whitmarsh, CEO of Trinidad Drilling

Let’s be honest. If you work in the field in any industry, you sometimes feel like head office doesn’t get what it’s like to be on the front line. At Trinidad, you don’t have to feel that way because our CEO has worked on a rig floor.

“I started out as a roughneck working in southern Alberta on the rigs there and then just kind of migrated my way up,” said Lyle Whitmarsh, who has been at Trinidad’s helm as CEO since 2008. Continue reading

Trinidad history 101: 5 milestones in our growth

As the adage goes, “You can’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been.” We think our history of growth says a lot about where we are heading as a company. In this post, we want to reflect on some of our milestones to give you an idea of how we see our future.

1. Trinidad is founded in 1996

This, of course, was the first of many milestones. We started with four rigs, and now we have 134. Right from the beginning, there were some fundamental values that enabled (and continue to enable) our success: values like listening to our customers, staying on top of technology, focusing on performance and always taking care of our team. Taking care of our team means working to keep every worker safe, every day, and giving our employees opportunities that allow them to grow their careers and share in our success. Continue reading

Sharing success: We grow as you grow

Brent Kryzanowski and his wife on vacation in San Francisco.
Brent and his wife on vacation in San Francisco.

Brent Kryzanowski has been with us pretty much since the beginning. He started in 1996 when we were a Saskatchewan-based company with only one rig. Back then he was a Motorhand. Now, we have 134 rigs operating in Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, and Brent works as our Top Drive Superintendent.

Brent’s career growth is emblematic of Trinidad’s story. Over the last 17 years we have risen to the top of our industry by staying on top of technology, by listening to our customers and through the hard work of people like Brent.

OK, back to 1996 (you remember 1996, it was the year “Independence Day” starring Will Smith came out). Back then Brent was working on Rig #1 north of Lloydminster, Sask. By 1998 he was a Driller. Three years later he was a Rig Manager. The man who promoted him to Rig Manager was a Field Superintendent named Lyle Whitmarsh – who is now Trinidad’s CEO. As Trinidad grew, so did the opportunities for Brent. Continue reading