Forty to Nothing

Last Friday, my wife Ashley and I flew from Houston to Salt Lake City. A day or two earlier, we had for the first time heard that a hurricane was expected to hit near Corpus Christi, my hometown. While our trip was planned, we decided not to take any chances, and brought our two youngest children with us, August and Aras. What unfolded over the next several days was unimaginable, and many are still reeling from Hurricane Harvey’s wreckage. Although grateful our babies were with us, and older kids safe, I have been quite torn with emotion, mainly guilt for not being in Houston to assist in relief efforts personally, particularly while many of our friends, and employees have experienced significant damage to their homes.

We came to Utah to celebrate my fortieth birthday. The plan was for just Ashley and I to spend some time together, but clearly, God had other plans. I wanted to spend time in the mountains writing, hiking, and reflecting, which has been quite difficult with two small children, and the anxiety that comes from not knowing what’s going on back home. Nevertheless, we’ve managed, and therein lies the silver lining.

Years ago, after selling DOYLES, I wrote a short blog entry, Significance vs. Success. All of my life, I’ve wanted to make a difference in the world; my life to mean something, and today, at forty, I can say with humility that it has, and I am grateful. I have four healthy children, a lovely and beautiful wife, and a following of friends and fans that appreciate my genuinity, transparency, and heart. I’m making a dent, but I’m not done. Not even close. What’s been most encouraging is that the dent I make, won’t be mine alone. It will be a legacy of truth and transparency, of doing the right thing, and of giving back; and will be carried by friends, family, our employees, communities, and children, and our children’s children.

Over the past few days, I’ve observed our team demonstrate the values that we as an organization embrace, and without influence from me. This has been most encouraging, because quite often, it’s difficult to measure whether or not culture, and values are alive in your organization; our dent in the making. It doesn’t show up on a balance sheet or income statement, and let’s face it, the day to day of running a business can be taxing and stressful, monotonous, and unrewarding at times. We are but humans after all; imperfect, emotional at times, and what we do to put food on the table is much less important that those we enjoy the meal with, our family.

My mother told anyone who would listen I was going to be a preacher. Well, she was partly right. I became an evangelist of truth, love, and acceptance. For those that don’t know me well, they are quite surprised to hear that I am quite introverted. I’m also not a natural leader. For the past twenty years, I’ve learned to lead, to be a businessman, a husband, a father, the latter being among the hardest. Like my mother, the one thing that came natural, is being a giver. The pain I’ve experienced over my life has come primarily as a result of others taking advantage of my giving heart; I give on.

Today, I turn forty. An age that twenty years ago, sounded an eternity away, but also an age I remember very specifically being the time I would hope to retire, which I equated to being financially independent. Well, today is the day, and guess what, I’m going to retire, but only from the things that I choose, which in short are anything standing in my way from dying broke. I’ve been practicing for a while, but the math is quite simple. You spend some, save some, and give the rest away, and it’s true of the only two forms of currency that matter; time and money.

So, here’s to significance over success, making a dent over a dollar, and building a legacy over a life of luxury.

I’m going Forty to Nothing!

Life, Love, Legacy

Business is personal to me. For the last twenty years, I’ve worn my heart on my sleeve, treated others the way I want to be treated, and have done my very best to look out for those I’ve been privileged to lead. I have many scars, but I’ve never given up, and have always believed that the best things come to those who do the right thing. 

While professionally, I’ve been known to build brands, and values driven companies, my family is always something I’ve been careful to protect. Mainly to keep my family safe, but also because as an introvert, I often feel exposed; like I have no where to hide. My home is the one place I can escape from the many pressures of being an entrepreneur. I’m just Dad, or babe, and it feels good.

However, I’m blessed to have many friends, fans, and followers who are encouraged by my postings, many of which leave comments, email or message me, or on occasion, when they see me at a conference, a restaurant, or even the grocery store; it happened. It’s incredibly humbling and encouraging and while my writings act as a creative outlet, impacting others energizes me and keeps me accountable. 

Of all the success I’ve experienced, it has not come without failure, and many times on both sides. However, I’m most proud of the family my wife and I are building together. It’s blended and beautiful, full of love, forgiveness, respect, and togetherness. My wife is incredibly supportive, particularly of the sacrifices I’ve made in time away from home to do not only what I must do, but what I was born to do. 

There is no work life balance, and business is not “just business.” My work is my life, and my life my work; everything is personal. In the end, it will be my family at my bedside, and a few friends. I will be proud of the family we’ve created and enjoyed, and my life work will matter, to my family, my employees, and my community.

So, this is my family. This is my life, my love, and my legacy. I am grateful.

Thanksgrieving

Over the past couple of years, our industry has experienced some of the worst wreckage in the past thirty years. Hundreds of thousands have lost their jobs, hundreds, if not thousands of companies have filed for bankruptcy, and/or closed their doors for good. It’s been hard on a lot of people and their families, many of which are my friends and acquaintances. Being thankful is likely difficult, if not impossible for many this year.

However, as the year comes to an end, I remain humbled and grateful. Some say timing is everything. While it may be less than everything, it’s certainly played an important role in the roller coaster I’ve been on in the past half dozen years. I’m still standing, albeit with a few more scars.

In mid-2008, the company I owned, closed on a $16M acquisition, had six plants, hundreds of employees, and a tiger by the tail. Six months later, we had a $5M hole in our balance sheet, a crumbling economy, and no credit line. I was corporately and personally insolvent; in other words, bankrupt. Meanwhile, my wife at the time had left with our son on her hip, and our daughter in her belly. Life was shit. Dog shit.

Over the next four years, I got up and fought the fight, often times with whiskey on my breath. It sucked at times, worse at others. However, over that same period, I met my wife, Ashley; Cris, who is now my closest friend, and many others who helped me to navigate through some of the most difficult times I’ve experienced both professionally and personally. I sold the company my Father started out of necessity; to save it. It ranks high among the hardest decisions I’ve had to make. Although the sale was anti-climatic, what followed was not. I experienced grief, and as a result, resigned, was sued, and later settled, which forced me to sit out for 10 months. It was a much-needed time of reflection.

November 13, 2013, free of my non-compete, I had a choice. Exit an industry that had fed my family for decades, or pivot at 36 and do something different, which would not have been the first time. I chose the former, and doubled down. But, I had no money, no staff, no product, no customers, and was quite discouraged. However, with a few fans in my corner, namely my wife, my CFO, and mentor, I pulled up my boots and went back to work.

Today, I’m incredibly honored to have a team of highly skilled, talented individuals who are passionate about what they do; and a growing list of raving fans that appreciate our approach to serving them. For the first time in my career, I’m beginning to experience the dividends for doing the right thing in business for many years. A good reputation that precedes you is worth far more than any first impression, or PowerPoint presentation. Turns out, honesty is the best policy. It’s universal.

So, I leave you with this. Know that we all have a choice. To dwell on our past or current circumstances, or press onward and upward, visualizing what we want, who we want to be, and how we want to be remembered. The rest is action and grit. Our industry has been turned on it’s head, and as a result, is full of opportunity. Be thankful, be encouraged, and get ready for a ride, because I can feel it coming in the air tonight.

I’m thankful for the experience of grief. Without it, we would never know joy.

 

Blood & $45 Oil

A few days ago marked the tenth year anniversary of my father’s death. He started buying valves out of scrap yards in the seventies, loading them into the trunk of his car, and driving thousands of miles to offload them to a buyer base he established all over the gulf coast. Eventually he managed to buy a truck, then a trailer, and then moved his family to Corpus Christi, so he was closer to the scrap yards. Over the next twenty years, he built one of the largest inventories of used valves and wellheads through hard work, and hustle.

Three years before my Father died, he asked for me to come join him, which I did, and hated it, until I loved it. It was like an arranged marriage, but it didn’t take long for me to realize that I was born to buy and sell equipment; it was in my blood. Not long after I joined the company my Dad started, my youngest sister got involved in the business, and it was the first time I spent any time with her as an adult. It was fun.

My Dad died a few years later, and although I had spent six months out of the year playing professional baseball, I had picked up the business enough during the off-season working for my Dad, to take over the business. A few months later, my brother joined our team of ten, and the next couple of years we caught fire. My sister and brother left the family business at different times and started their own companies, respectfully. It caused a riff in our relationships for a time. Over the course of the next ten years, the company my father had started from the trunk of his car became a globally recognized manufacturer of pressure control equipment. I sold the business in June of 2012, and have many scars to remind me of the pain, sacrifice, and loss that led up to the exit.

The past couple of years have been full of ups in down, both personally and professionally, but in spite of $45 oil; we’re still making it, and finding time to reconnect as a family. We’ve even talked about working together. Some say blood and oil don’t mix. We shall see.

This business can be ruthless. At any moment, it can turn on a dime, and bring grown men to their knees, and show the smartest guys in the room how much they have to learn; I certainly am no exception. However, now that I’ve had my fair share of experience, my plan is to stay focused on what’s most important…what cannot be taken away.

About Henderson

A slightly-seasoned, serial entrepreneur who is passionate about people, purpose, and giving back.

Henderson started his first company at 19, and since then has bought and sold, or started and sold a total of nine companies, including, and most recently DOYLES, an Inc. 5000 recipient in 2008/09.

Henderson is the founder of Henderson Rigs & Equipment, a leader in the sales and brokerage of drilling rigs and capital equipment; as well as the founder of DrillingExchange.com, the fastest growing, commission-free, on-line marketplace that connects buyers and sellers with no middle man.

Determined to do the right thing, Henderson makes no apologies for his approach. His direct, non-conforming style is certainly uncommon, but most of all, his disarming transparency is what makes him one of a kind.

Niece Fleece

My mother took her last breath on Wednesday, May 28th, 2014, just before 9am. Less than seven hours later, my niece went to the bank, accessed my mother’s safe deposit box, and emptied it of its contents, which consisted of nearly $200k in cash, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in jewelry and other valuables. Yes, this really happened.

Prior to my mother falling ill, this particular niece and I were not close, but she was certainly one of the few family members I trusted. She came to live with us when we were both in high school. She was a sweet girl, and I loved her. More importantly, she loved my mother, and my mother loved her. Over the past twenty years, our relationship had become marginalized by distance and time, among other things. However, never would I have imagined she’d be capable of such a stunt; never.

Before my Father died, he and my mother had a will constructed naming me the executor, a role that I was never keen on filling, but obliged to nonetheless, as I felt it was my responsibility to them, and the balance of my family. Following my father’s death ten years previously, and leading up to her own death over the next ten years, my mother struggled with what she wanted to do with her money and time. She stayed busy by investing in her church, as well into my niece, and her son, among other family members she’d hoped would find a straighter path.

My mother’s relationship with her three grown daughters, including this niece’s mother, was tumultuous for the most part. Alcohol and drug abuse were primarily the culprit, but it also had to do with childhood trauma, abuse, and a lot of hurt. However, my mother loved all of her daughters equally. All the same, she adopted my half-brother as her own, making five siblings in all. The will my parents had drawn up made each child an equal beneficiary of their estate upon both of their passings. It was definitive and fair.

About 6-8 weeks before my mother died, she contacted me to inform me of the report she’d received from her doctor.  I began to travel back and forth to my hometown to help her get her affairs in order. We met with her attorney, who was attempting to help her draft a revision to her will according to her wishes. My niece and I were present in all of those meetings, with exception of when they were discussing how she and I would be treated as beneficiaries.

During those discussions, I, along with my mother’s attorney attempted to assist my mother in deciding to whom, and how her monies and assets would be distributed. As usual, it was very difficult for her, and there were very large swings in who, and how much each person, and/or charitable organization would receive. In one of those meetings, my mother informed me that she was removing me as executor, and replacing me with my niece. I thought nothing of it at the time.

A few days before my mother died, I called her attorney to inform him of her rapidly deteriorating condition. I explained to him that it would likely only be a few days and she’d be gone. A day or two later, he showed up with a revised will and an IRA beneficiary designation, naming me and my niece as sole beneficiaries; something I learned of that morning. Her attorney, his assistant, a bank employee, and another witness entered my mother’s house. My niece and I stayed outside. Fifteen to twenty minutes later, they exited the house, and her attorney informed me she was unable to sign either, and he called it off, based on her condition. At the time she wasn’t speaking, and was taking large doses of pain killers.

Within the hour, I explained to my niece that because my mother had not signed the will, it was as if it never existed. I knew she had a key to the safe deposit box, so I instructed her not to access it for any reason. The assets in the safe deposit box would become property of the estate upon my mother’s passing, and would need to be distributed in accordance with the will. I didn’t want her putting herself or me, as the incoming executor, in a compromising situation.

A couple of days later my mother died. My niece and I, along with our spouses went to the funeral home to make arrangements for the service. My wife and I left, and headed home. My niece and her husband went straight to the bank. Never said a word to me or anyone else about it then, or for the next several weeks. It was only when I confronted her a few weeks later was she forced to fess up, and did so only in part.

Knowing I was to be sworn in as executor, it was my job to ensure that all assets were safe, and under my direct control. I needed to confirm that my niece had not accessed the safe deposit box at anytime following my mother’s death, as it would not allow the family to access it together for the first time to take an inventory and distribute the assets in accordance with the will. When I confronted her, she immediately became defensive and isolated, and from that day on, I have not spoken to her again. I pleaded with her through text messages, emails, and voice mails to talk to me about what had occurred, because following being sworn in as executor, I would have no choice to expose her. She never broke the silence. In fact, she attempted to convince my entire family of things that later proved to be untrue, so the story goes.

I was sworn in as executor, we filed a restraining order, accessed the box to find it empty. Months later in front of a judge, my niece was cold and calculated. She claimed that the contents of the safe deposit box were a gift. Her actions proved anything but. We found out that day in court that she had accessed the safe deposit box, emptied it, moved it to another box in the same bank with only her name on it. Later, she came back to the bank, and removed all of the cash and most of the valuable items and took them to anther bank. She never mentioned a word of any of this until she was confronted. On more than one occasion following my mother’s unsuccessful execution of the revised will, my niece would proclaim, “I don’t even care about the money.” I thought it was quite strange then, but it makes a lot more sense now.

Nearly a year later, my family has settled with my niece. It cost our family nearly $100k in legal fees to get back what belonged to our family to begin with. In the end, my niece traded her entire family for a little money, a few pieces of my mother’s jewelry, a trailer park, and two tons of heartache. All by her own choosing.

I’ve experienced divorce, and I’ve experienced death, and both have brought the worst out in the people I trusted the most. I can’t imagine ever being able to forgive my niece, but time is a gracious soul. Of all the time she spent with my mother, she obviously missed out on the things she stood for without fail; honesty, character, and integrity.

Here’s what you’ve been waiting for…

I’m embarrassed by all the things I’ve thought and wanted to say to my niece. I’m hurt that someone I trusted so much betrayed me, and what I feel like is my mother for some silver, so to speak. Reminds me of a story I once read. What’s most disturbing is that my niece is heavily involved in her church, has taught classes for women, and worked with another church member who received $100k from my mother six weeks before she died, and also claimed it a gift. How convenient. Many of these church members showed up at court to “support” my niece, clearly not knowing all the facts of the case, which don’t marry well with their doctrine.

I’m angry, but a small voice in my head reminds me that this too shall pass, and it’s not my responsibility to right other people’s wrongs; that every person will one day answer for their actions, and that in forgiveness there is healing. That small voice is my mother, reminding me that love is the answer. Maybe she’s right…just maybe.

Last Rig Standing

Last year, OTC set an attendance record with nearly 110,000 O&G professionals from around the world; the most since 1982. More than 4,500 rigs were running that year, and by the mid 80’s, less than 600 rigs were turning right. Arguably the worst bust ever. To most in the space today, something they will only know of through the memories of the old-timers. However, if you haven’t had a chance to drive through Midland/Odessa, the picture above tells it all; dozens of brand new 1500HP AC drilling rigs standing tall, waiting for their chance to get in the mud.

Everyone has an opinion, but most drilling contractors agree that the days of mechanical rigs are behind us, at least here in the US, and in large part. SCR rigs have replaced most, and AC rigs, believe it or not, are still being built by the heavyweights in our industry, albeit at a slower roll. The cost corrections have been made, oil prices are climbing, and hundreds of the land rigs that have been stacked will be back to work before we know it, along with the ones that can actually run them. My prediction anyway.

But, I guess the smell from the blood in the streets travels East, because we’ve been fielding a plethora of calls and emails from MENA, Europe, and Asia from drilling companies who are curios to learn what they can buy on the cheap. And of course, an SCR rig is a major upgrade for a lot of these drillers, so needless to say, we’ve become quite popular. Prolific times, no doubt, and a day that I certainly will later reminisce with my children, should they decide to follow the steps of their father, and grandfather. I sure hope they do. I love this business.

So, what will be the last rig standing? Your guess is as good as mine, but I’d bet big that it will be one whose life was long, hard, and at times lonely. Even rigs must succumb to the circle of life.

Hope to see you at OTC!

About Henderson

Henderson Rigs & Equipment is a Houston-based U.S. supplier of new and remanufactured drilling rigs and drilling equipment to domestic and international drilling contractors. In addition to our own new and remanufactured equipment, Henderson engages a large, Worldwide network of quality vendors, which allows us to locate virtually any piece of equipment used on a drilling rig.

Hard to be a Hustler

After selling DOYLES in June of 2012, I had a choice. Stay on with the company that acquired us, have a big title, a nice salary, stock that vested over three years, or…I could quit, or resign as some would call it. Of course, I did what anyone entrepreneur would do in my situation, I quit after only four months. Quitting meant that two thirds of my income would be interrupted for what was an unknown amount of time, and it also meant forfeiting the stock the company had worked so hard to keep during our negotiations. But, I felt as if I had no choice. For 16 years at that time, I’d never worked for anyone, and although I liked the people that I would be working with, I needed to be in control of my own destiny. Donedees.

So, there I was, no job, no business to speak of, no team, and no real income. I was in EO (Entrepreneurs Organization) at the time, and I remember making a presentation to my forum taking them through the 11 opportunities I was pursuing. I was throwing everything up on the wall to see if it would stick, and it was as if the wall was made of teflon. One of my forum mates challenged me to figure out what I was going to focus on, because no one can pursue anything and everything that they are interested in, and be good at all of them. So, I did; got focused that is.

As I reflected over the success and failures I had experienced over my career, I realized that the O&G space had been good to me, and that it was best that I leverage the skills and experience I had to impact the industry in a positive way. Although being in business for many years at the time had rounded out my skills, my passion was and remains sales, marketing, branding, business development, etc. All customer facing aspects of running a business. I can read a balance sheet, income statement, and cash flow statement better than most, but prefer to discuss strategy, vision, and market domination through unparalleled service, honesty, and transparency.

So, I launched DrillingExchange.com at OTC in May of 2013, as it allowed me to marry the skills I had developed by running a large web development company in the late nineties with the previous 10 years I’d spend in the oilfield equipment space. It was a very successful launch, and although there’s been some rough patches, the company has developed into a viable on-line marketplace for drilling rigs and equipment. Plug: If you have rigs and equipment for sale, and you don’t have them listed on DX, shame on you. Then, in November of the same year, part of my non-compete expired, so I started trading equipment again. Boy, was I disappointed.

For the past ten years, I had invested a significant part of my time and energy into building a company that stood for something, and I was under the impression that once I was “back in business” I’d have a huge following of fans and supporters. Nope. I was discouraged, depressed, and at times angry. And then it struck me…I was a nobody. It’s funny now, but at the time, I realized that although we had built a good reputation as a company, I had been successful in making sure that the company didn’t need me to operate as a business, and as a result, no one knew that the values that built DOYLES, were ones I had instilled in the company, and it’s people. It was time for me to go back to work, and build relationships one customer and relationship at a time.

I hit the road, made mistakes, and more phone calls per month than I had in previous years combined. If I were going to be successful in the buying and selling of rigs and equipment, I was going to have become a hustler, no differently than I was when I started my first business more than 15 years prior. Smile and dial, greet and meet, conventions, luncheons…the whole nine yards. Oh, and once I got up off my ass, and got a goal, good things started happening, and mama got a brand new bag.

Whether you run your own business, or work for someone, you can still be a hustler, and control your own destiny. That doesn’t always mean you’ll be rich, or wealthy, but if you want to be successful on your terms, you got to find the hustle, but be warned; it’s hard to be a hustler. Leaving you with one of the greatest movie scenes ever from Pain & Gain.

About Dan Henderson
Henderson is the founder of Henderson Rigs & Equipment, a leader in the sales and brokerage of drilling rigs and capital equipment; as well as the founder of DrillingExchange.com, the fastest growing, commission-free, on-line marketplace that connects buyers and sellers with no middle man.