Contractor Profile: EBC Enterprises Riding the Energy Wave

Contractor Profile: EBC Enterprises In the event that you’ve been living under 25,000 psi rock formation, there’s an oil and gas boom taking place in shale plays across the United States; with a lot of the activity and development taking place out west.

One company, integral to making sure the pipe is placed and the products from those plays get to processing facilities and consumers is EBC Enterprises Inc.

Beau Kraus, founder and president of EBC Enterprises, Inc. got his start in the early 1990s when he turned down a full ride scholarship to Colorado School of Mines to stay near his family in Kansas and started working with his uncle in the family civil construction business.  A few years later, Kraus found himself in Colorado doing telecommunications work. The company he worked for at the time, based in Alabama, did not invest in equipment and instead sub-contracted out the work to local installers.

“I asked, ‘If I buy a trencher, will you guys give me work?’ and that’s how I started, basically just myself and a trencher,” Kraus said of the early days of EBC. At the same time, the earliest small directional drills hit the market and Kraus picked one up to get an installation done.

“We bought a drill rig as just another tool to get our projects done and then became more and more specialized in HDD.”

Kraus realized there was an opportunity as a directional drilling contractor for all utilities. “We found a niche in the market and went for it,” Kraus said, of those early days. From the late to 1990s to the early 2000s, Kraus had EBC humming along on fiber-optic installations. With 9/11 and the crash of the economy, the telecom bubble began to burst. For a three-to-four year span, Kraus saw his competitors slowly going out of business and his company pared the workforce down to its key employees.

With a resolve as hard as the rock EBC drills , the company took whatever jobs came its way and that paid off. Today, things are completely different, thanks to pipeline related projects supporting the oil and gas shale plays. .

“It was pretty slow then but the volume of work  has totally changed due to the oil and gas boom and fracking,” Kraus said. “We’ve been fortunate and have been on numerous pipeline jobs.”  

EBC’s work includes projects for many of the major oil and gas companies. Kraus chalks up the company’s success to three main contributors; great customers, loyal help and a strong reputation of leaving a good product and never walking away. EBC believes developing, and more importantly, maintaining communication with our customers is the key to a successful business.

Kraus said, jokingly, “Sometimes it seems like our customers call on us for their difficult jobs. That says a lot about what they think of our abilities. We attribute the spread of our name to customer referrals. It just doesn’t get much better than that. Our customers make it easy to work for them because they know our work ethic, value our insight, and trust our experience. It makes you want to do your best for them.”  

The most recent challenger, and one of the greatest in EBC’s history, came in September 2013, during unprecedented rains that caused flooding throughout Colorado. According to a Colorado State University website dedicated to the floods, rains and flooding affected six major rivers and/or tributaries, 14 counties, and more than a dozen municipalities in the state.

One of those areas, along the South Platte River, was a  location of an EBC Enterprises project. EBC was charged with drilling four bores through solid rock.

“I don’t know if I’m stubborn or crazy or what,” Kraus said. “I always said I am going to start a driller’s anonymous and know when to say when but I never do. One way or another, we always get the job done.”

In the end, EBC successfully completed the bores under the river for their customer.

“We were determined to get the job done. It was fortunate we didn’t lose anything despite being setup at the river. We ended up with a good 3 to 4-ft of water around everything halfway through the work.”

Completing projects like the South Platte River crossing would not be possible without two things: dedicated and quality personnel and reliable resources.

For Kraus, quality personnel is No. 1 to get an HDD project completed on time and also one of the reasons EBC made it through the rough patch in the early 2000s.

“You have to have the right people to do the right job especially for what we do. It just trickles down from there,” Kraus said. “Good personnel means good planning, good teamwork, good everything, really, to make the job successful. We have numerous personnel that have more than 20 years of drilling experience from the western hemisphere to the Middle East. If one of us encounters something we haven’t seen before, I can guarantee another one of us has. We rely on each other and each other’s experiences. We are a tight group.”

Among  EBC’s arsenal of tooling, you’ll find Melfred Borzall reamers, which, Kraus said, “have done really well in the ground conditions we’ve encountered.”
 
EBC believes choosing the right equipment and selecting vendors that are loyal to you and respond to your needs quickly are important factors in any successful company.  Kraus said, overall,  EBC owns the equipment it uses on projects and rents only when the need arises, another business philosophy that helped the company weather the HDD dry spell.
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