Ian Anderson wasted little time after graduating from high school in Plentywood, Montana. At 19 years old, he went to work in the oil fields. He mastered the drilling side of operations and rose through the ranks and, in the process, traveled the world. Ian returned to eastern Montana and western North Dakota in 2010 as an oilfield consultant.
Ian’s timing was ideal. The Bakken boom was in full swing. Opportunities were abundant. But like all booms, the bust followed and in 2016, Ian found himself briefly managing a workover rig.
Workover rigs are specialized oil rigs set up for inserting and pulling pipe tubing in and out of wells. Crews are called when an oil well has been drilled, is undergoing repair, or is in the process of being retired.
“I decided… I would own it.”
Ian’s experience was educational and gave him a business idea. He recalls: “I decided that if I ever had to work on a workover rig again, I would own it.”
But before he followed through with his idea, Ian married Tricia, an accountant. Tricia says shortly after they got married, Ian wanted to purchase a 3000 HP drag racing car.
“It was then I decided I better find a better hobby for my husband,” Tricia jokingly admits.
Together with his oil industry experience and her 20 plus years in accounting, much of it involving corporate accounting, the husband and wife duo started Pronghorn Well Service LLC, which services oilfields throughout the Bakken Basin.
“Ian and I balance each other out. He’s an oilfield guru and I’m a bean counter. It works,” Tricia says.
Pronghorn started in 2018 with one rig, financed in part through the SBA 504 Loan and the North Dakota Opportunity Fund.
“We grew year by year. We purchased a second rig in June 2019, a third rig in March 2020, and a few months later two winch trucks to provide additional services. We bought a fourth rig in June 2021. We’ve grown methodically but with growth comes the need for storage, maintenance, and repairs,” says Tricia.
As they did back in 2018, the Andersons benefitted from the assistance of Lewis & Clark Development Group. Pronghorn was one of several companies that received SBA 504 Loan funding out of the more than $4.2 million processed by LCD Group in 2021.
Using the SBA 504 Loan, along with First State Bank & Trust, the Andersons were able to purchase a 6,500 square foot shop to store and service their equipment. The facility also serves as base of operations for Pronghorn’s 30 employees.
LCD Group really took “the pressure off of us”
“Honestly, we would not have been able to start our business without the help of the SBA 504 loan. The cashflow needed for a down payment would have been impossible if not for the SBA loan. The difference between 10 percent and 30 percent is a make it or break it scenario and is what allowed Ian and I to start Pronghorn,” observes Tricia.
“The paperwork that goes into a startup can be insurmountable but LCD Group was very helpful throughout the process. Derrick (LCD Group loan officer Derrick Becker) was available to help with every question along the way. This really took the pressure off of us.”
Looking ahead into the new year, the Andersons plan to purchase a fifth rig. They say the goal from inception was to own five rigs. At the moment, the oil market seems to be on a rebound but both admit this can change. For Pronghorn, like almost every other business in each sector, the biggest challenge is labor.
“People are key. The relationships you build along the way are so important. When you are running a business, you are pulled in a lot of different directions so it’s easy to get distracted and take your focus off the relationships as you deal with the details. Fortunately, Ian and I work at making sure we never forget those who work for us and those we work for,” Tricia observes.
“And we don’t forget those, like Lewis and Clark Development Group and our lenders, who have helped us along the way.”
Visit Pronghorn’s Facebook page to learn more about the company. The Andersons also discuss the highs and lows of their entrepreneurial journey on the Williston Works podcast, hosted by Williston Economic Development Executive Director and Lewis & Clark CDC board member Shawn Wenko.
For more information about the SBA 504 Loan, visit LCD Group’s website or contact Becker at (701) 667-7622 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also contact LCD Group Senior Lending Director Ashley Hruby at (701) 667-7607 or email her at email@example.com.