The backbone of the oil industry
At this very moment there are approximately 3,000 platforms drilling for oil off the coast of Louisiana. It is a highly technical industry with machinery that can drill within a fraction of an inch, hundreds of feet into the sea bed. Years of engineering and scientific innovation has facilitated exponentially higher oil production. With the enormous statistics that are attached to the industry (86 billion barrels of oil a year), the human element can get overshadowed.
That is why speaking with Brandon Bollinger is such a pleasure.
As someone who started working for his father (then company president) by sweeping floors at age 12, Bollinger understands the minutia of the daily routines working on the rigs—the needs and challenges of the men and women who dedicate themselves to the hard yet, rewarding physical labour. He understands every position within his company because at one point he has filled that role—from custodian to executive level. Now, the president of Gulf Crane knows everything there is to know about running a successful business and the mechanics of cranes.
The drilling company is in the business of selling, repairing, overhauling and testing everything oil companies need for their cranes. His company services the platforms that operate 365 days on the outer continental shelf of Louisiana. Out of those 3,000 oil rigs in production, Gulf Cranes services over half exclusively. “We were with customers that were growing rather than downsizing on the shelf, so we were strategic about whom we selected to partner with,” explains Bollinger adding proudly that the company takes care of many of the biggest oil companies on the shelf today.
Good leadership expands bottom line
Gulf Crane’s business has expanded under Bollinger’s leadership. Initially a service company, Bollinger set out to pursue dealerships and was made exclusive dealer to Detroit Diesel on the Gulf of Mexico. Following that, the company started up a hoisting division and made a dealer for Chester Hoist and the EBI worldwide. This strategy has proven very successful in navigating the fluctuation in oil supply and demand in recent months. “We have seen a little downturn in the industry but we have diversified, so that where we are slow in one area, we backfill in another,” says Bollinger adding his employees also have a wide range of skills and training. “So if our engine work is slow, we put them on crane work, if crane work is slow, we put them on engine or hoist work,” he adds.
Family-owned business credits its people the key to success
Bollinger ceaselessly credits his stellar employees for helping make Gulf Crane a success. “We are a family- owned business, so our people are family,” he says. “Our people are our assets....if I serve my people, and they are happy, they will make my customers happy,” says Bollinger who acknowledges the importance of his employees by providing them with a safe work environment. “Our safety record is astronomical,” he says adding confidently that his company has not had a recordable accident in over two years of approximately 640,000 man hours. In fact, the Louisiana Workers' Compensation Corporation (LWCC) awarded the company for its safety, and has also been nominated in 2008.
Gulf Crane’s customers reap the benefits of such a cohesive company. Bollinger has put together a management team with over 150 years of combined experience. This team prides itself on adapting to the vicissitudes of his customers’ need. “We are able to go to our customers when they have a certain amount of cranes, and we help them with their budgets and their maintenance programs,” says Bollinger. We will actually go on site and fix cranes where other companies want to sell them new ones, which saves our customers upwards of $300,000.” Gulf Cranes helps their clients comply with regulatory authorities as well, says Bollinger. “We have an outstanding record when it comes to Incidents of non compliance,” he says.
The family-run operation has been built from the ground up with hard work, dedication—not to forget, a passion for the business. “I love my job,” he says. “I enjoy what I do so therefore I make it fun. I surround myself with people that are same- minded as me, people who want to get things done. There is nothing we can’t get done.”