Oilman of the year: 'That's how I roll'

By Geoff Lee

March 30, 2017 12:00 AM

TERRIFIC HONOUR Mike Baehl, left, Oilman of the Year accepts a watch from bonspiel chair John Stanyer during the Heavy Crude Open Bonspiel banquet at the Lloydminster Stockade Centre on March 17. GEOFF LEE LLS PHOTO

Mike Baehl says the only thing that matters is “Living at my fishing camp, older whiskey and faster horses and that’s how I roll.”
A further glimpse into what matters to the 2017 Oilman of Year was provided during the March 17 Heavy Crude Open Bonspiel by Baehl’s acceptance speech and his comments to the Source.
“First of all, I would like to say thank you for this year’s board for asking me to be oilman of the year,”  Baehl, a long time member of the Oilfield Technical Society, told the assembled.
He told the Source that bonspiel chair John Stanyer told him he had to accept the honour for contributing to Lloydminster in so many ways.
Mike’s Oilfield has supported everything from purchasing the naming rights to one of the field houses at the Servus Sports Centre, to sponsoring events like the Allen Cup finals, to funding health causes,  such as the Canadian Cancer Society.
“We continue to support community initiatives for the benefit of our employees and all citizens of Lloydminster, both the young and the ageless,” said Baehl.
His community-mindedness dates back to 1979 when he and his wife, Margo, launched Mike’s Oilfield with one pressure truck that he bought one night at Bar 5 in Lloyd.
“Prior to that, I had never driven a pressure truck, but figured I could figure it out,” said Baehl.
Being in business has enabled Mike’s Oilfield to be the perennial sponsor of the eighth event at the annual oilmen’s bonspiel.
He’s also created a network of associates as thick as a phone book by serving on committees such as the Lloydminster Heavy Oil Show and various oilmen’s golf tournaments.
As a result, Baehl had lots of stories to tell when he took to the podium, but he whittles them down to a common theme.
“All the stories were basically (about) hard work and get the job done; it was all team work and you know what?
“It was fun working those days,” he said.
“Things have really changed over the past years; it’s a different scope of safety and everything else that goes on—you have to get it done the proper way.”
Baehl made note that Alan Cayford joined Mike’s Oilfield in 1990 as a truck driver, then as a partner who stayed on the job until 2013, well after his share was bought out in 2007.
Two of Baehl’s three sons, Shane and Lonny, have virtually taken over the business, with Mike’s diversification formula for success top of mind.
Baehl learned that lesson during the downturn of the ‘90s and expanded from water pressure trucks to doing pipeline jobs, hydro-testing, air and foam units and oil and gas chemicals.
“With the industry dying, I needed to find another related part of the industry that required more specialty work,” said Baehl.
“Right now, we’re so happy we’re in the pipeline side of things where it’s very specialized,” he said.
He said every job is designed differently, so they’ve got to put in a quote and have the specs on how the client wants it done.
The need to specialize resulted in investing in new equipment and developing a cold weather product called Mike’s Deicing Fluid that quickly thaws frozen gas lines.
“It’s 10 times stronger than methanol and it just eats ice,” said Baehl.
Diversification has been the key to the success of Mike’s Oilfield that has grown to more than 39 units and about 33 employees.
The company operates throughout Western Canada with specialized trucking services, pipeline and foaming equipment and chemical applications.
All that was revealed in Baehl’s acceptance speech at the bonspiel, along with some of his health ailments that he jokingly blamed on his pals.
“Gout is something that I have earned by hanging out with all you crazy oil boys,” he said.
Fortunately, Baehl partnered with local entrepreneur Brenda Knight to purchase ISME Float on Jan. 1 that provides all kinds of therapeutic treatments.
It’s worked wonders for Baehl,  who has been living the life of Riley in Phoenix this winter as a golfing snowbird.

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