How the UK’s Dando Drilling is Dealing With a Turbulent 2016

Here at Viking West, it’s important to stay in touch with our friends and colleagues in the drilling industry. We’re the North American dealer for Dando Drilling and we’ve built a great working relationship with the guys across the pond in the last few years.

So, in the wake of the European Union’s referendum a few weeks back, we decided to check in with Callum Mee and the gang to see how things were going.

Kelvin: Brexit aside, how has business been for Dando in the first half of 2016?

Callum: It’s been quite busy, now that I think of it. Last week I was at the Hillhead Exhibition, which was interesting. I also recently attended a geotechnical show up in London as well, so it’s been busy in just the past month or so.

Overseas in the last six months has been busy as well. We’ve been exploring some potential contracts overseas as well as here in Europe and Asia. We normally work with two teams, one working with larger contracts and then another on the client relations, the smaller details. So that approach has led to some great conversations. Indonesia is busy, Sudan has come back online, there’s a lot of interest from Pakistan. The exports side has picked up considerably as confidence is re-established in global markets. Latin America is showing interest and strength as well. We have great representation in many countries in central and south America and our efforts are beginning to bear fruit.

Has the European referendum slowed things down for Dando?

It has had some impact in the UK but we expect this to be short term. Early in the year we got off the ground with some pace and there’s still a lot going on, we have a lot going through our workshop and some great leads that we expect to convert soon. We’ve been speaking to companies and contractors, some of the big companies are still busy, but a lot of that is due to the fact some of those companies are still expanding, so they’re busy in other areas in the industry. Overall the referendum has had little impact on us as most of our business is overseas. One positive side in the short term is that we have become more competitive as the pound has weakened.

That’s definitely good news. The global drilling community has been dealing with a worldwide recession, and then the referendum develops. It’s good to know that people are pushing through. What are some of the specific methods you’ve used to overcome these hurdles?

We really try to turn the focus back on ourselves, to internalize the challenges. We’ve had to adapt and make changes like everybody else. Our product range has grown over the last couple of years in line with market demands. People no longer have the cash to invest in large capital plans so they are looking for cheaper machines that have multifunctional capabilities to allow them to make their offering more diverse. This is an area where we have focused our efforts along with continued improvements of all our products. We’ve also made a number of changes internally with a view to streamlining processes in all departments which allows us to improve productivity and our competitiveness.

We believe that the recession presents choices and opportunities rather than problems – a time to reflect on our own operations as well as product range.

We have our own unique challenges, most of our success and growth comes from the export market. It’s important to get the best structure, the right people on board, and spend the right amount of time and effort in design. We believe the recession is loosening, so we want to take initiative now instead of waiting. The minimum market will come back online and we want to be well equipped when that happens.

At Viking we talk a lot about controlling what you can control in light of the turbulent price of oil. What advice do you have for companies or people feeling the pinch of the economy?

I think ultimately you need to concentrate on your strengths. At Dando, that’s always been our flexibility. We work with customers to build custom rigs. We’ve taken years of that experience and it’s really stronger now more than ever. We’ve made several rigs over the last few years from scratch and we’ve tried to build on that and make the process easier for us and easier for the customer. The modular design is a big part of that direction in which we’re headed. People can now swap out components easily, which makes their lives a lot easier. With both the sales team and the design team, it’s important to maximize our strengths to make sure we’re understanding and utilizing them efficiently.

Callum and the gang are always so great to talk to – what was intended as one post has grown as well. Check in next week to learn more about the specific improvements to Dando’s Mk 2 Terrier.