VEDCO: Branching Out
VEDCO says its new company, Virginia Core Drilling LLC, expects to have a prosperous future ahead as it plans to grow its fleet and its reach.
Virginia Drilling Co. LLC is a highly specialized drilling and blasting company that performs work for surface coal mines, road building and various heavy construction projects. In addition, VEDCO’s Austin Sales LLC distributes explosives to clients that perform their own drilling and blasting.
“The Austin Sales part of the company has been in existence since 1935,” Fortner says, adding that VEDCO also manages Hazard Explosives, a company that sells explosives to clients in eastern Kentucky.
VEDCO’s latest venture is Virginia Core Drilling LLC, which the company formed in 2007.
Fortner notes that many of its current clients include longtime VEDCO customers in Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky. Investments in Success
As it has grown Virginia Core, VEDCO has purchased five used drills, as well as a new Atlas Copco Christensen CT14 core drill that is “a major investment,” Fortner says. “[The] Christensen CT14 exploration rigs give us the ability to drill as deep as 6,000 feet. That’s probably more than double what we could do with the older model drills we purchased.”
VEDCO’s willingness to purchase new equipment reflects its commitment to Virginia Core’s success, Fortner says. In addition, “We will be receiving our second new Christensen CT14 core drill [in] the third quarter of this year,” he says.
VEDCO also has assembled a qualified staff for Virginia Core, Fortner says. In March of 2008, Charlie Hale, a mining engineer with experience in coal, gold, copper, industrial mineral and regulatory affairs, was hired to be the manager of Virginia Core Drilling.
Additionally, the company hired several of the former owners of its used drills, including Operations Manager Billy Basham, who has 35 years of experience.
Goals for Growth
Virginia Core’s continued success will be based on its ability to continue hiring qualified drillers and purchase quality equipment, Fortner says. Additionally, “The drilling equipment must be constantly maintained to provide a high percentage availability to our customers,” he says, noting that Virginia Drilling has a 5,000-square-foot shop dedicated to the vehicles and surface blast hole drills located in Vansant, and most of the core drill service and repairs have to be performed at this time in the field.
Virginia Core Drilling is also planning for continued growth. “Our goal is to have 20 core drilling rigs operating by the end of the year [in] 2010,” Fortner says, adding that Virginia Core also wants to expand its reach beyond Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky and to provide exploration services to other industries such as aggregates, minerals, metals, tar sands and natural gas in the Central Appalachian region.
In addition, Fortner does not see Virginia Core’s business slowing down anytime soon. “The worldwide market for energy, basic raw materials, and metals is going to dictate an increased demand for our core exploration to help locate and quantify mineral deposits,” he says. “[We] are positioning ourselves to provide a full range of exploration services to help our clients find, map and quantify reserves of raw material to meet an ever growing demand.”Greater Resources
Within all of VEDCO’s companies, a common area of focus is employee safety. Although much of its training is based on federal and state requirements, VEDCO also has focused on providing more specialized training, Virginia Drilling Safety Director Dave Wilson says. This includes a training curriculum based on such topics as defensive driving, the proper use and care of personal protective equipment, and the prevention of back injuries.
“One of the best training tools we have is our employee newsletter, called Explosive & Drilling News Express, which is mailed to our employees’ homes quarterly,” Wilson says, noting that each newsletter features safety tips that he writes himself. “These safety tips are [some ideas] that our employees can use at work, at home and even on vacation.”
The newsletters also give the employees’ families the ability to see what is going on within VEDCO, as well.