I was born in Rimbey, Alberta and grew up on the family farm about 30 miles north near Winfield, Alberta. My family had moved there from Revelstoke, BC, a few years before. My dad had traded a "ranch" near Revelstoke for the farm at Winfield. We owned a quarter section with about 80 acres cultivated and leased another quarter for pasture. We grew hay and grain, milked cows, and raised sheep, pigs, chickens, turkeys and anything else we could either sell or eat. Looking back I call it "survival" farming. We were poor but I thought we were rich.
I attended school in Winfield, graduating in 1962. We walked to school (uphill and into the wind about a mile and a half in both directions). About halfway one of the neighbors had a dam for watering cattle. We used to stop there on the way home on the hot days to swim (I can't put my head under water to this day). My first exposure to the oil industry came at about the age of seven. I was walking to school and encountered a seismic crew working along the road. I was asked to stand still while they recorded a shot (preventative noise reduction I guess).
In high school I had a science teacher by the name of Mr. McKay. I thought he was the smartest man I had ever met. On Fridays during class you could ask him any scientific question and he would give the answer. However, he didn't know what corning ware was made of. The most important thing I learned from him was "The tail doesn't wag the dog". I won't say how that came up but I found it to be quite useful in my business career.
I spent the summer of 1962 working on road construction near Pine Lake, Alberta where I learned to hate picking rocks and eating coleslaw. In 1962, my parents sold the farm and moved to Wetaskiwin. I moved to Edmonton where I enrolled in the Science program at the U of A. Having learned everything there was to know in one and a half years, I decided to get a job.
My career started with Shell Canada in Edmonton in December of 1964. I was an hour late because of a storm with -93 degree wind-chill. In those days I was called a seismic computer and was paid $325 per month (at least I probably didn't pay much income tax). While working at Shell I met a lovely red head named Dianne Wolbeck (one blind date set up by one Barry Darroch). We've been married 31 years.
In 1967 we moved to Calgary. I got a job as Geophysical professional assistant (P.A.) with Pan American Petroleum (Amoco). My supervisor was a guy by the name of Bill Van Uchelin whose most memorable quote was "I can handle it, just tell me what to do". That same year our daughter Debbie was born followed by Kim in 1970 and Mike in 1972.
I joined Digitech Ltd. in the fall of 1968 as a seismic processor. I remember working many late nights picking statics (every trace of every record - sometimes twice). In 1970 we were assigned to the office in Sydney, Australia which we enjoyed very much although it seems like picking statics in Australia is about the same as in Canada.
In the fall of 1974 I left Digitech to join Gulf Canada as a seismic processor because nobody else seemed to want the job. I stayed with Gulf until 1979. My supervisor there was Gord Hollinghead who once told me that "nothing is totally useless - it can always be used as a horrible example". That quotation has also come in quite handy in my business career.
In 1979, Chris Gotte, Roy Haigler and I formed a new processing center with the rather generic name of "Seismic Data Processors". In 1981, we opened a center in Sydney, Australia to serve our Australian clientele. At the time there were only three processing centers in Australia with about twenty crews actively acquiring data. Two years later there were 13 processing centers and only four crews working so we decided to move our equipment etc. back to Calgary. In 1991 we sold the center to an employee group which eventually became part of Enertec Geophysical.
On the advice of the great Chinese philosopher, Bob Won, I joined Ray Madison at Varidata Surveys Ltd., as a seismic data broker. I have been with Varidata now for 5 and a half years. The brokerage business has enabled me to maintain all my relationships from the past and enjoy new ones as well.
In September 1992 tragedy struck our family when Debbie was killed in a car accident in Colorado. The support we received at the time from all our friends in the industry was astounding and helped us make it through this most difficult time.
I have been an active member of the CSEG since I moved to Calgary, serving on the CSEG executive, Doodlebug and Doodlespiel committees at various times. My claim to fame being that I am the only person to have attended all 25 doodlespiels.
I think the greatest reward I have had during my career has been the people I have met. I feel fortunate to have worked in both the oil company and service industry environments. Through the doodlebug and doodlespiel I have met many people from all aspects of operations (from drillers to jughounds). I strongly encourage everyone to participate in these events for this reason.
The other aspect of this industry I have enjoyed is the friendly competition in business. You might be competing with someone for a contract during the day and sitting at the same table at a CSEG function at night. A great spirit of co-operation exists within the brokerage community where your supplier can also be your clients and there's always time to stop on the street and chat with another broker.
I'm proud of my 33 years in the industry. I've worked hard, enjoyed it and would sincerely like to thank everyone for making it possible. Let's hope that the present prosperity and hope for the industry lasts forever (well, a few more years anyways).