The Rig Shop Ltd.

After nearly a quarter of a century, The Rig Shop Ltd. has stayed successful by maintaining strong values in its approach to work, Head Engineer Fred Jolivet says. “[Our senior managers] are straight-up, honest businessmen,” he says. “I enjoy working for them.”

Based in Edmonton, Alberta, the oilfield fabrication company manufactures onshore drilling rigs with conventional and coil tubing technologies. President Jim Clish founded the company in September 1987.

Before starting The Rig Shop, Clish worked as a private oilfield consultant. In that role, Jolivet explains, Clish found that there were not many rig companies that provided consistent work.

Clish was inspired to launch his own company, which had a modest beginning with a single bay shop. Since then, The Rig Shop has grown to operate four shops that cover more than 120,000 square feet and operate within a kilometer of one another. It also operates an oilfield supply division with average annual sales of $5 million.

Its newest location spans 14,000 square feet and features a bay six feet higher and 40 feet longer than any of the others. “It is allowing us to work more easily,” he says. “It was a little bit more elaborate [of a process] to get all the pieces put together when working on larger triples.”

According to the company, all of its fabrication facilities are well equipped and staffed with experienced personnel so that it can provide a wide range of products. “Our custom fabrication experience has also allowed us to help customers find solutions to unusual or highly specialized projects requiring innovative approaches to the manufacturing process,” the company says.

Ready to Serve

The Rig Shop serves a customer base that has grown in recent years. However, one major client in particular, Savanna Energy Services, has driven much of its production in recent years, Jolivet says.

“It’s often the way it works,” he admits, explaining that work for a single customer will often occupy much of the company’s space for long periods at a time. “Since then, we’ve managed to broaden the base a little bit with R.A Hodgson Industrial Design, Akita Drilling, Precision Drilling, Chinook Drilling, Fox Drilling, all now accounting for significant amounts of recent drilling rig related orders.”

Customers include the Houston-based Cameron, which specializes in flow equipment products, systems and services. “We build support skids for their frac manifolds,” he describes. “They come at us with a lot of requests.”

The Rig Shop also serves clients in Australia. “We’ve come to understand their regulations over there,” Jolivet says, noting that the company sometimes needs to do things differently in its work for clients Down Under.

For instance, “We do a fair bit of trailer-mounted drilling structures,” he says. “Being trailer mounted brings into perspective all of the transport regulations. There are a lot of concerns on that side with meeting transport rigs [regulations] over there.”

The Rig Shop also has completed work for firms in Russia. “That’s probably less complicated from a technical standpoint,” he says. “[But] sourcing materials to deal with their products can be a bit difficult at times.

“Most of the difficulty lies in sourcing materials that meet -45°C requirements,” he says. “In circumstances where qualified material is not available from suppliers, we do a preselect based on chemistry of what is available then send likely candidates out for testing before purchasing large quantities.”

Honoring Management

Jolivet praises the senior management team at The Rig Shop. “They’ve been at this for a long time,” he says. “They needed to be given the credit for the image that the company has.”

For instance, Jolivet says, Clish has ensured that the company does not take on much debt. “They’ve grown [only as fast] as they could afford to grow,” Jolivet says. “As things have slowed down, they’re not cash strapped. They’re able to hang onto some of their key people.”

Jolivet also praises Clish’s brother and son, Vice President Gord Clish and General Manager Wade Clish, respectively. Both men have “taken a lot of pride in doing honest business out there,” Jolivet says. 

“If credit’s due, it’s certainly due,” he continues. “They certainly contribute to putting [the company in the] right direction at the end of the day. Gord and Jim’s son wade have certainly taken the bull by the horns.”

Maintaining Design Standards

An area where The Rig Shop is striving to grow is oilfield design, Jolivet says. With its experience in oilfield manufacturing, in-house engineering team, and its relationships with engineering and design partners, the company is capable of providing its clients with innovative and reliable designs.

“The implementation of the API Q1 design and review process helps ensure that the level of quality and design safety is maintained throughout the design steps,” the company says. “We are also able to provide customers with design review and updates of their own designs to help them meet specific industry standards.”

The company also utilizes Autodesk Inventor/Autocad design and stimulation suites, which allow it to exchange model and drawing information with customers or design partners. According to The Rig Shop, this reduces the time required to produce production information, such as drawings or analysis documentation.

“We have also recently added the S-Frame structural design package used in conjunction with a custom in-house API 4F third edition wind stress evaluation interface to allow for quick evaluations of proposed structures to AISC codes, imposed by API for oilfield drilling structures,” the company says.

Free Rein

The Rig Shop will celebrate its 25th anniversary this fall. Jolivet expects that Jim Clish, Gord Clish and their brothers, Operations Manager Larry Clish and Mechanic Ed Clish, will have a celebration to commemorate the occasion.

“They are very proud of it,” he says, but asserts that the four brothers remain humble men. “They’re all just an easy-going bunch of guys. They’ve got a good business acumen, [but] they certainly don’t blow any horns about it.”

Jolivet sees growth ahead for The Rig Shop. With the addition of its last shop, “We’re obviously trying to continue to stay on top,” he says, noting that the company may soon branch out into building components of the rigs.

With 12 people on its technical staff, “We’re starting to flex our muscle and take better advantage of the machine shop,” he says. “We’ve been looking at things like rotary tables.

“Rather than reinventing the wheel, we want to come up with new solutions for the oilfield,” he says. “They’ve given us pretty much free rein in how [we use] new concepts and new ideas.” EMI

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