Today’s up-and-coming leaders are helping to shape tomorrow’s energy future. Whether it’s new thinking, fresh attitudes or technical solutions, showcasing their work and vision is of tremendous value to the entire energy industry.
Daily Oil Bulletin’s Rising Stars Class of 2019 is a showcase event of the excellent work done by young emerging energy leaders.
Today, we profile Allan Pearson, InFocus Energy Services Inc.
Designing outstanding oilfield products is a tall order. Doing so while building a company around those products is another challenge altogether. Allan Pearson managed to succeed at both through one of the worst oil-and-gas downturns in a generation.
Pearson got his start in the industry shortly after high school with directional drilling, measurement and wireline tool manufacturer Computalog Ltd. Three years in, he was spending a lot of his time in the U.S., setting up facilities, training, troubleshooting and working with engineers on prototype tools.
Through the ensuing acquisitions (Precision Drilling bought Computalog, Weatherford bought Precision’s energy services and International drilling operations), Pearson continued to rise through the ranks and became Weatherford’s regional manager in Saudi Arabia for five years.
Upon his return to Alberta, he and Shadi Masadeh, a colleague from the Middle East, founded InFocus Energy Services in 2013 with little more than a truck, cell phone, some great tool ideas, and a stack of business contacts.
In 2014, the price of oil dropped out from under the fledgling company. That downcycle could have crushed InFocus but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
“Every time there’s a recession, the market gets flooded with new companies,” Pearson says.
In this scenario, laid-off oil and gas workers launch companies as representatives or resellers of tools made by a just handful of major tool companies.
“The majors don’t give you much control. They’ll sell you the tool but keep drawings, or they won’t let you service the tools, or you have to buy certain replacement parts and pay a 400 per cent markup — all of which makes it very difficult to bring in good margins,” Pearson explains.
In contrast, InFocus empowers these small to mid-sized companies with quality tools and the resources they need to succeed in a competitive marketplace.
Pearson’s first commercial product was a high-speed (20,000 rpm) reaming tool, ideally suited for aggressive, hard formations.
A high-torque all-metal version [All Metal Power--AMP] soon followed.
“The AMP overcomes the biggest failure mechanism downhole: the elastomer getting destroyed and choking off the drill string, causing everything to shut down,” Pearson says.
The AMP took two years to develop. It called for unique manufacturing techniques and extensive collaboration with companies willing to do things in new ways. The result is a simple and efficient tool that won ICoTA [Intervention & Coiled Tubing Association] Canada’s first Innovation Award. InFocus has also been recognized with export awards for its international sales.
At currently 27 employees, InFocus continues to innovate and expand its product lines, and is well positioned for the next wave of growth.
Like many oil and gas leaders, Pearson and InFocus employees are keen supporter of local charities.
Those that stand out for Pearson are the Alberta Health Services’ Stroke Ambulance, a research project that provides stroke victims with pre-hospital assessment and treatment as a way to mitigate the permanent damages of a stroke.
The Gamma Knife Unit is another focus. This University of Alberta Hospital radiation therapy uses computerized treatment planning software to help physicians locate and irradiate small targets within the head and brain.