Bullzeye Oilfield Services leans on quality communication to thrive in the midst of difficult market conditions.
“When our customers call in for jobs, we make sure we ask all the right questions every time,” says Zack Maxey, co-founder with his father, Keith, of the company based in Bowie, Texas.
“We show up early on all the jobs and are always ready to go. We’re a 24/7 service company, so we’ve got to be by our phones all the time and accessible.”
Being accessible is important for the wireline services company that specializes in the logging and perforating of oil and natural gas wells and works throughout the state.
“Everybody knows that they can get ahold of me at any time,” Maxey says. “Whether it’s 1 o’clock in the morning or during the football game on Saturday afternoon, they know they can count on me being accessible.”
This type of access, from his standpoint, is important to foster among the entire Bullzeye team as well. “Being able to touch base with your engineers on location and troubleshoot right there is huge,” he says. “And now we can even FaceTime one another.”
And then there’s the sense of camaraderie and teamwork fostered among all employees that helps eliminate the type of bickering, arguing or other communication barriers that can wreak havoc in workplace settings that lack these elements. “You get guys that are really working together and communicating well,” he says.
In addition to the communication skills that have been a difference-maker both internally and when dealing with clients, Maxey credits the company’s success in part to its ability to simplify processes as much as possible — eliminating any wasted movements and related safety issues on location.
This type of know-how comes from a solid foundation of industry experience. Both Maxey and Keith have worked in wireline services in the oilfields of Texas, and Keith, who has been in the industry for 40 years, founded a company called Max-Line in 1998. That’s where Maxey initially received his training, starting at the age of 13.
He began by cleaning trucks part time and was eventually able to run trucks and logs. “Basically every summer, winter, spring break and weekend I was working in the industry,” Maxey says. “Anytime I wasn’t in school I was working.”
They sold out to Basic Energy Services and worked for that company for close to five years before filing for their explosives license in 2010. As Maxey finished up his college degree at Texas State University, the pair started Bullzeye as 50/50 partners.
But Maxey’s schooling wasn’t forgotten by any means. While earning his bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in entrepreneurial studies, he also founded an entrepreneurism fraternity — the first of its kind in the State of Texas.
His classes became opportunities to tailor projects and assignments to the business he was envisioning all the while. “My case study was always Bullzeye Oilfield Services,” he says. “So as I was going through college, I was building the business plan for the company.
“The people around me were actually helping me build the business plan, the feasibility studies and some of the strategy for the company,” he adds, and his business plan for Bullzeye took second place in a schoolwide competition.
Some of the most valuable lessons learned during his college years, however, revolved around building relationships — learning how to work with teams and get others to take part in a collective vision.
By the time he and his father turned Bullzeye from dream into reality, the two were already well-versed in the industry and prepared to hit the ground running. The family element is stronger than just the two. Maxey’s sister, Misti, keeps books for the company and oversees legal updates, insurance requirements and employee relations.
Working with family members brings many challenges and many rewards. “Whenever you’re dealing with business stuff you have to check your family card at the door,” he says. “And when it comes time to be a family together you have to check your business card at the door.
“The family sense and the respect that you have for a family member is the one thing that transcends those lines all the time,” Maxey adds. “There’s always a sense of respect for one another within our company. Everybody senses that, and I feel like that’s one reason that everybody respects one another so much within our company.”
“Wireline services are a necessity in the completion of a well,” Maxey explains, and Bullzeye provides cased-hole wireline, pressure control and paraffin treatment services to its customer base, including private, independent and publicly held operating companies. A few of its clients are among the top-five largest oil companies in the United States.
Its service area is mainly focused on the State of Texas. “We can and do work outside of the state’s borders, but it’s not something we do regularly,” he says. “It’s basically upon request — mostly from our Texas clients. We’ll go out of our way to try to bend over backward to help them out. When they want us on the job, we’re going to go where they want us.”
Bullzeye’s role is to lower tools into oil wells using a piece of cable, which has a conductor and allows communication between those tools in the well and those at the surface. “We’ll lower the tools down to the bottom of the hole, and we’ll use logging tools to give us a better picture of what is in the hole and what’s going on beneath our feet,” he says.
After logging the wells and determining what’s down there, then it is possible to go in and complete the well. At that point his team sends in guns to shoot perforations in the casing and allow the fluid to be extracted.
Imagine a straw with a plug in the bottom, he says. Forcing water into that straw builds the pressure up, but the fluid will not go anywhere. But if you punch little holes at the bottom and then you force fluid through it, it’s a different story. That’s what gives the gas and the oil that’s trapped in these formations access to the wellbore.
Recently, Bullzeye has been in the Eagle Ford Shale setting a lot of production packers in the hole. That’s a mechanical service, he says, essentially delivering a tool to the bottom of the hole and then setting it in the casing in order to set the plug and kill the well until production tubing is put in.
Currently, low oil prices present the biggest challenge for Bullzeye. “As long as oil prices stay low,” Maxey explains, “the amount of work is decreasing. So in order to keep up with the amount of capacity I have, I’m having to acquire new customers.”
Looking ahead, however, he suspects the next challenge will be effectively handling business operations as the oil prices come back. “It’s probably going to rise about as quickly as it fell, and this is one thing I’m preparing for now,” he says.
The need for service is going to exceed the amount of trucks and equipment available, so the ability to grow quickly enough to line up the people and equipment needed to take over those new service opportunities will be a real difficulty — but a good problem to have, nonetheless.
In-house vehicle overhauls
As Bullzeye Oilfield Services tackles its work day in and day out, the company’s fleet of 28- and 38-ton cranes (manufactured by Altec and Manitex) is put to good use, but its fleet of six wireline trucks is a crucial component as well.
Rather than using one specific provider, the company purchases trucks manufactured by various companies at good prices and then handles all the work needed to get them set up and ready for action. “We refurbish all of our trucks ourselves, and that way we put the equipment we want in them,” Maxey says.
Each truck is equipped with a Geo-Log depth measurement system and Warrior software (Scientific Data Systems), and they’re all wired up the same. “We have the same digital systems and then we use the same backup systems,” Zack Maxey, co-owner, says, “and our backup systems are usually mechanical.
“Since we build all these trucks identically ourselves, when there’s an issue we already have a good sense of where to look,” he adds, “and it just increases our ability to troubleshoot and get everything fixed fast.”