Baby, It Was Cold Outside

By Renée Martin, General Manager, HDD Broker Inc. | June 2014, Vol. 69, No. 6
Renee Martin

I cannot recall a winter in our company’s12-year history where our industry was so affected by the weather.

The U.S. Northeast region saw three-to-four times the usual snowfall, according to the NESIS index. This was magnified by two category 3 snowstorms that ranked amount the top 30 storms of the last half-century. The Great Lakes were 91 percent frozen, the second largest ice cover on record.

And it wasn’t only the north that experienced exceptional weather. A massive storm through the Southeast saw snow as far south as the Florida panhandle. Travelers in the region were stranded along the highway, abandoning their vehicles and air traffic was grounded for days.

So what kind of impact do the droughts, polar vortex and ice cover have? A considerable one. Chief Economist Peter G. Hall said most U.S. key indicators went into a tailspin in January and February. Homebuilding permits slumped and average hours worked were down as were new orders for capital goods.

Within our industry, weather disruptions were equally impactful. Contractors reported that many projects were suspended or cancelled outright. Extreme weather conditions battered equipment causing frequent break-downs and repairs. Winterizing, even in otherwise warm states, was an essential part of maintenance to prevent hoses and pumps from freezing and breaking.

Here at HDD Broker we saw much the same. Sales transactions stalled as buyers waited for machines to be dug out of the snow. Broken hoses and pumps were common-place. Trucks were delayed or cancelled. Sometimes, we couldn’t start equipment just to load it.

Winter weather, unlike in years past, was enduring and tenacious. Some parts of the country are still enduring it. But despite the general slowdown, the low temperatures and the heavy snowfalls, we saw in our customers a great deal of grit and resilience. Getting the work done, even in the toughest environments has always been the defining strength of our customers. It is because of that value that we say “There’s no Crying in Drilling.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: The “Last Word” is an occasional column featuring comment and opinion
from various industry personnel.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Renee Martin is the general manager of HDD Broker, a company that specializes in the marketing and sale of pre-owned utility installation equipment. Renee has worked in the HDD industry for over 15 years, recently moving from the role of CFO to General Manager of HDD Broker.