Employee story: Rick van Woudenberg, Operations Specialist

Monday 20 March 2023

Name: Rick van Woudenberg
Location: Brownline HQ, Meerkerk
Department: Operations
Position: Operations Specialist
Employed since: December 2011

"When someone asks me what kind of work I do, I say that I solve technical and logistical puzzles."

Rick is one of Brownline’s veteran employees. He has witnessed many of Brownline’s developments first-hand. That means we regularly hear nice anecdotes from the past. If we want to know something about a project ten years ago, we just ask Rick. In the rare event that Rick doesn’t know it off the top of his head, he will delve into his archives and have the details ready for you in no time. If there’s a problem we can’t work out, the solution is often: ‘Let’s ask Rick.’ He usually has an answer ready.

From a cozy to a big Brownline family

Rick joined Brownline in 2011. “Back then, we were small-scale, so I’d be involved in many aspects of the company. Field work, answering calls, working the forklift. It was fun, but also hectic. But it meant I gained a lot of practical knowledge. Brownline has grown a lot over the years. We went from a cozy Brownline family to a big Brownline family. Back in the day I was on my own, and now our Operations department is a team and I have colleagues I can exchange ideas with.”

“My work is much more specialized now. I’m also involved in the Brownline Academy and training new surveyors. The practical knowledge I gained before helps me communicate with our guys out in the field. And I keep learning from what they tell me, which comes in handy when communicating with the client.”

Day-to-day tasks

“My day never looks the way I imagine it in advance. But I always start my day preparing projects. I try to have that done first. That way I can double check it and I don’t have to rush it at the end of the day. During the day, clients contact me by phone or email to ask questions. For example, questions about design drawings, drilling in various soil conditions, like very soft conditions, whether drilling plans and applications are possible with certain rigs, etc.”

“I spend time on the trainee surveyors. I check what they have learned and what they have done and whether they actually understand what they learned. At 03:00 PM we check on the active projects. So, we call all surveyors to ask how it’s going. Unless they’re working across time zones, then we usually call them at the end of their day. This is important because a project progressing fast or slow can influence next day’s planning.”

“In the meantime, I manage international logistics: shipping our tools, customs paperwork, etc. I also handle our surveyor’s documents, such as safety certificates. At the end of the day, we prep everything for the next morning.”

“Drill jobs sometimes get delayed, which makes our planning very dynamic. For example, when a job can’t start because they don’t have their permits. Basically, I spend all day on a jigsaw puzzle. During the day, puzzle pieces go missing, and I get pieces back that don’t always fit. When I manage to finish the puzzle despite all of that, it’s always a good feeling.”

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What makes the job fun

“The work is never boring. You get to deal with all kinds of clients, different cultures and different applications. Every client handles problems and projects differently, and I want to contribute to that in a way that fits them. I want a good long-term working relation with my clients, I want to complete great projects together. I want us to provide an honest service for an honest price, so the client knows that what we do is worth the price.”

“A while ago we had a new client with a difficult job which went so well, that they immediately wanted to hire us for two more projects. That makes me genuinely happy. When I spot risks in a job, I let the client know, because I want the job to go well. At the end of the day, we rely on each other. I enjoy it when clients find out that the Gyro Steering Tool allows you to do things that you can’t do with other guidance systems, like multiple horizontal curves. And that this enables them to do projects that were impossible before. So that contributes to the development of their company, and to my own work, because it means more projects.”

“Sometimes I’m talking to a new client who has no idea where to get started. That’s when I get involved to help set things up technically and logistically. And when that job is then completed swiftly and smoothly, that makes me feel good.”

“I’m proud of complex projects finishing successfully, through the joint effort of the team, the client, and the unique tool that we have.”

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