The selfless nature of the water well industry was on full display in mid-May through the incredible gesture of Roger and Norman Skillings.
Equal owners of Skillings & Sons Inc. in Amherst, New Hampshire, Roger and Norman sold their newly delivered 2021 REICHdrill RTD69-PTO at the same price to a friendly competitor in need.
The competitor, Capital Well Clean Water Center in Dunbarton, New Hampshire, lost operation of all three of its rigs (one permanently) in eight working hours, leading Skillings & Sons (which runs five rigs) to sell its REICHdrill RTD69-PTO and wait until July to get the next one.
“I said to Dan (Grace), yeah when it rains it pours, and when it rains it pours on all of us. When you look at somebody else, just wait a minute. They’ll have the same problem as what you have someday,” Roger shares.
“We look at it, gee, we get enough work for all these rigs. What about the poor guy who owns one rig and has a breakdown? Oh boy. Imagine the customers with that one rig.”
Grace, vice president of sales and marketing for Capital Well Clean Water Center, estimates the company would have had to return $300,000 in deposit money to waiting customers if it wasn’t for the provided rig. The company is still telling customers late fall/early winter due to its heavy backlog of work.
“We go way back to before my time here at Capital with the previous owners here,” Grace says. “There’s always been a mutual respect for one another. But not to be forgotten, we’re still competitors. Roger reminded me of that. We cross into each other’s territories.
“However, they mainly are southern New Hampshire; we’re mid- to northern New Hampshire; and pass each other referrals now and then in each other’s backyards, but this is unprecedented. To give up a new million-dollar machine just like that. Crazy.”
Interestingly, Roger had other plans prior to Capital Well Clean Water Center’s downed rigs.
“I was going to go to Rwanda to drill wells,” Roger texted to Grace. “I wanted to give back. I have been blessed. Being an American is a blessing. I said ‘no,’ I’m going to help my fellow American. Just didn’t know when. This just felt right. Luckily my brother agreed.”
Not one for attention, Roger will be retiring in the next year after 50 years at Skilling & Sons. Norman plans to retire in 10 years.
“We’re always trying to one-up our fellow American. I believe if we did more for each other we would have a happier life,” Roger says.
The gesture is magnified when viewing how the industry’s equipment operates.
“Every day that he runs that equipment, he could be up against a $10-, $15-, $20,000-repair bill that he could’ve dodged by having that new machine out there running,” Grace says. “He knows the circumstances, he knows the consequences, but it’s bigger than that.”
Grace, who is president of the New Hampshire Water Well Association and got to know Roger through his involvement, was brought to tears by the gesture. It’s made an indelible mark on him and his family.
“He changed our direction for the rest of our lives,” Grace says. “Not to make it sound bigger than it is, just going forward, with every decision, not just business, helping people out when they’re in a time of need.
“I told him that, man, this goes beyond your lifetime. My kids will remember the day that my competitor helped us out in a time of need. He didn’t have to. Was not asked. He didn’t ask for publicity; no photo; just shook hands and we walked out.”
—By Mike Price