The slowdown of oil production and drilling in the Bakken Oil Patch is apparent even in the sales and trade areas.
Foot traffic was a little slow at times Wednesday during the inaugural Bakken Oil Product & Service Show, exhibitors said, but picked up in the afternoon as attendees stayed busy networking and showcasing new products at the West River Ice Center. The trade show continues at 9 a.m. today.
“We’re seeing some of the effects of the slowdown,” said Jeff Zarling, president of DAWA Solutions Group, which promoted the event. “Just like everybody else in the marketplace, we’re waiting to see what’s going to happen and anxious to see when things are going to accelerate again.”
More than 200 exhibitors from across the country showcased products and services, and exchanged information while hundreds of others walked the Ice Center talking to business owners and representatives, taking in product demonstrations and workshops.
“Everybody likes to see lots of people, but there’s also the fact that they like to see quality people,” Zarling said. “It only takes one to make it all worth it.”
Some companies showcased products that they say would be beneficial despite low oil prices.
Dan Johnson, one of the owners of Blue Bull Lamont, said his company used the expo to spark buzz in the Buffalo, S.D.-based startup.
Blue Bull Lamont manufactures a machine that removes hydrogen sulfide, commonly known as H2S, from crude oil. The machine converts H2S into SO4, or sulfate, that is then pumped back into disposal wells.
Johnson and his business partner, Tom Wilson, made a presentation and had a booth at the show to answer questions.
“I just want to get the word out about what we’re doing and that it’s available,” said Johnson, who said he has been in the oil industry since 1977.
Michael Gove, vice president of business development for St. Cloud, Minn.-based Torqued Heat, showed off a mobile flameless heating device that can be used on rig and well sites.
“We basically make heat and we do it without a flame, so that makes it very popular in the oil and gas industry, because using a product that can go ‘boom,’ they tend to not like things that encourage that boom,” Gove said with a smile.
He said the show allowed his company to help others understand flameless heating and how it works.
“It’s important for us to be at as many shows as we can to give people the concept of ‘this exists,’” he said.
Other companies showcased their environmentally friendly products and services.
Mike Wester made the trip from Waterloo, Iowa, to explain how his company’s new Freightliner semi truck runs on a combined diesel and compressed natural gas engine.
“We figure with all the natural gas up here, this is a perfect fit,” said Wester, the general manager of Harrison Truck Center’s Waterloo location.
Glenn Baranko, owner of Baranko Bros. Inc. in Dickinson, was on hand with multiple members of his staff to promote the new environmental services side of their business, which they started after buying the assets of another company last fall.
“We’ve had a lot of potential customers coming through and people looking to sell their services to us,” said Dwain Mansfield with Baranko Bros.
Jim Mueller, general manager of Torque Tools in Bismarck, had his company’s mobile service and sales van parked right inside the front doorway of the old arena to showcase how they calibrate, repair and sell service and hydraulic tools throughout the Bakken.
“The big reason we’re here is to meet up with others in the industry and to stay aware of what’s happening,” Mueller said.
Zarling said trade shows like this one — his company has done four in Williston with a fifth scheduled for October — help businesses build client relationships.
“It’s all about connecting dots, connecting people, building relationships,” he said.