Mudslayer Reaches Business Milestone During Second Quarter

As the economy began opening back up this spring after being shut down due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, Jim LaPorte’s phone began ringing.

LaPorte fielded numerous calls about Mudslayer Mfg.’s mud and solids management systems. It resulted in the second quarter of business being the best for LaPorte since starting his business more than 10 years ago.

Guardino Well Drilling Inc. of Morgan Hill, California, took delivery of Mudslayer Mfg.’s Limited Access M350 track-mounted portable mud and solids management system at Groundwater Week 2019. Photo courtesy Augie Guardino, general Manager of Guardino Well Drilling.

“Five machines (sold) in three weeks. It was crazy,” says LaPorte, owner of Mudslayer in Guthrie Center, Iowa, on May 21. “People have been chomping at the bit. It’s been an interesting spring; I can say that.”

The spike in sales has caused a backlog of deliveries that LaPorte personally does himself. He was scheduled to deliver a mud and solids management system in Virginia during the last week of May and visit customers along the way. He also enjoys traveling throughout the United States, averaging 100,000 miles a year, to train or re-train customers.

“I think the key to Mudslayer’s success has been our motto: ‘Built by well drillers for well drillers,’” says LaPorte, “so when I get critical feedback from a client, I like it. In fact, the first thing I ask anyone is what’s wrong with it and see what they say. I don’t think there is any room for pride except in the product. You’re not going to hurt my feelings with critical feedback. It’s helped me evolve the product.”

LaPorte promotes the Limited Access M350 track-mounted portable mud and solids management system the most because of its uniqueness to the water well drilling industry.

“With that little machine I’ve got customers in Texas drilling 1000-foot, 18-inch holes,” he says. “It’s only 4 feet wide by 10½ feet long and 7 feet high and weighs 4500 pounds; it’s a very mobile machine. They went from a 3000-gallon mud management system to a 350-gallon Mudslayer system and love it.”

LaPorte’s 2-foot × 4-foot shaker deck can run 300 gpm through it and the screens can be changed quickly, design features that LaPorte is proud to have introduced to the industry. He also introduced his 250 rig-mounted unit to run off the drilling rig’s engine.

“We’ve got drilling crews with our 250s who are doing 1500- to 2000-foot of geothermal in a day because their move time has dropped from 30 minutes to eight or 10 minutes from hole to hole now because the mud system is on the rig and rolling with them. I’m pretty proud of what we’ve brought to the market.”

In fact, TCI Geothermal, a business of TCI Companies Inc. in Goodfield, Illinois, has taken the 250 unit and put it on elevated platforms with skis on the bottom so they can drag it behind the rig throughout the geothermal field. “They’re hands-down one of the fastest geothermal companies doing eight or nine holes a day where other companies struggle to get three or four done,” LaPorte says.

LaPorte, who started his own drilling business in 1985 before selling it in 2008, always wanted to leave the customer’s property better looking than when he arrived on site. This influenced the creation and design of Mudslayer systems.

For the past 10 years, each Mudslayer machine has stated “environmental protection system” on it, originally a marketing idea by LaPorte. Ironically, for both public and some private job bids today, it’s specified that a type of mud reclaimer must be deployed on site. “It’s actually worked out pretty well for us,” LaPorte says.

Mudslayer has an international presence based on a simple business model: LaPorte outsources to a local production partner all the welding, fabrication, and powder coating of each unit. Then LaPorte and his wife, Kate, assemble each unit one at a time inside their barn. LaPorte then hits the road to deliver it and train the customer.

LaPorte credits Kate for the company’s success which he says couldn’t be achieved without her.

“My focus has always been on the mini systems,” he says. “There’s tons of big systems out there you can buy but not any really good small systems. My goal is to have the best small system you can buy.”

—By Mike Price