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Deep Well Services president discusses recruiting, hiring in downturn

As large oil and gas contractors cut their workforce in response to producers slashing drilling budgets, Deep Well Services in Zelienople is quietly adding workers and equipment.

The company uses specialized rigs called snubbing units that prepare shale wells for production after fracking. That specialization and several new rigs in its fleet help give Deep Well an advantage during a downturn driven by low prices, company President Mark Marmo said.

The company is up to 151 employees from 125 in November and will add more. It’s moving into Canada with a two- to three-month job for an undisclosed client in Alberta.

Marmo spoke with the Tribune-Review about the changing face of job candidates and how his company sorts through applications.

Trib: Given the downturn, how has the pool of job candidates changed?

Marmo: Our HR (department) and COO John Sabo are getting five or six calls a day. We have about 150 resumes from the last few months on file.

Trib: How does that compare to a year ago?

Marmo: We were trying to search for the best guys then. It’s much easier now to find people with the experience.

Trib: Has that changed how you operate?

Marmo: We already have to operate differently than our competition because we’re not as big. We can’t make that mistake of hiring the wrong person.

We went out and purchased a snubbing simulator. The gaming industry created it. There’s a panel they stand at, up on a big TV screen. And any scenario that we want, at any type well, can be simulated. So if a guy came in and said, ‘I’m a Level 2 supervisor,’ well, you should be able to handle these kinds of issues out on a well.

Trib: So it’s a good testing mechanism for job candidates?

Marmo: That’s exactly it. That’s what we’re using it for, and also for training.

Trib: What kind of background is required for hires?

Marmo: If you’re entry-level, we hire green-hats, guys who just started, and train them through the progression of our competency program. For a high-level supervisor, we’re looking for 10 to 15 years of experience. We will not put a supervisor on staff unless they have that 10 years.

Trib: What’s the morale like among those seeking jobs?

Marmo: It’s really down. Last week, we were in Houston meeting with a customer. A guy had called and said he lives in Texas and was interested in working with us, so we said we’ll be in Houston, come down and see us. He came down and said that the employer he’s working for now cut their wages 50 percent. And the guys, there’s a lot of accidents happening; the guys don’t feel close. They’re just trying to stay working to collect paychecks. We’re hearing that more and more.

Trib: Does that change your management style?

Marmo: Once they get here, they see that we stay busy, that our equipment is brand new, it’s all well-maintained. Guys get their pay every two weeks. Our guys are our best asset, our best advertisement. So we don’t have to do anything different.

Trib: How are you maintaining business as the industry slows?

Marmo: There’s just not as much, so it’s more competitive. But there’s work. We’ve made a concentrated effort to pay higher. The average age of equipment in our fleet is 2.8 years old. … We’re not going to be a huge profit-type company, because we’re investing more in our people and equipment. But it keeps us busy, and it will pay off.

In related news, Deep Well Services takes on new rig.

This article was written by DAVID CONTI from The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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