DR Hydrovac owner cuts costs and visits customers in person during downtime in work

An old saying notes that there’s nothing certain in life except death and taxes. In the oilfield industry, add a third certainty: cyclical ups and downs. But while downturns pose problems for many companies, Dwaine Ruckman — the owner of DR Hydrovac in Strathmore, Alberta — prefers to take a turn-lemons-into-lemonade approach, embracing business slowdowns as an opportunity, not a liability.

“We know only two speeds: flat-out or barely rolling,” says Ruckman, acknowledging the fickle nature of the industry. “There’s never a happy medium; we just get used to it. We survive downturns with perseverance — and a lot of luck. When some things shut down, something else always seems to pop up.”

Part of that might stem from Ruckman’s proactive approach during downturns. When business softens, he makes a point of trying to spend more face time with customers, especially those he hasn’t seen in a while. “It’s just good public relations,” he says.

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Ruckman also spends more time prospecting for new clients, even though he knows full well they probably won’t be hiring — at least not right away. “We introduce ourselves to new people in person whenever possible,” he says. “I think it makes a difference (to do things face to face). There are so many other marketing tools out there, especially with the internet. But at some point, customers should see you, too. We run with a personal touch and a get-it-done-right attitude.”

The company also uses the downtime to take vehicle and equipment maintenance “a few steps further, if need be,” he says. And the minute things start to slow down, the focus always shifts into even closer scrutiny of operating expenses.

“We also re-strategize and look at other sectors that may require hydrovac services, but not as often (as regular clients),” he says. “We make time to go out and introduce ourselves to them.”

Related: Grow Your Business in a Tough Economy

Read more about DR Hydrovac in a full profile. 

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