MBI Energy Services has been in business in the Western Edge long enough to remember when the Bakken was more commonly referred to as the Missouri Basin -- it's where the name comes from: Missouri Basin Incorporated. They’ve spent 40 years building a name for themselves as a company worth working for; and as they celebrate that 40th anniversary, this homegrown North Dakotan energy service provider looks back on a legacy of community, family and environmental stewardship.“Certainly one of the secrets is the fact that we’ve developed significant relationships with our customers,” Craig Halsey, Chief Operating Officer for MBI said. “This is a relationship business, those relationships can last for a long time.”
Longevity can be a scarce resource in an industry as cyclical as energy, and Halsey said he believes the company’s staying power sends a message all its own. “40 years says a lot. There is a great message in having the staying power of 40 years in an industry that’s typically very cyclical,” Halsey said. “If you look at MBI’s year-after-year growth, year-over-year positioning in the community, MBI’s year-over-year commitment to safety, MBI’s year-over-year commitment to providing great benefits, competitive wages and being an integral part of this part of the state …I don’t know if anyone else has a story that can begin to compare with what MBI has here locally in the oil field.”
MBI’s a visible force in the many communities it operates in around the Western edge. They’re the second largest employer in McKenzie County and fifth in Stark, according to Kjersti Armstrong, Vice-President and General Counsel for the company. Marya Skaare, Director of Communications and Recruiting, said that MBI has not forgotten its small-town roots. “Born and raised in North Dakota, we have that sense of community no matter where you go,” Skaare said. “Anyone who grows up in a small town in North Dakota knows we lean on one another to make things happen. Growing up here, MBI has been a good neighbor. That’s still important to us year after year …we step up when there’s need. And to be here for 40 years speaks to that. It is very humbling and we are extremely proud and gratified by this accomplishment—one owed completely to our people…our employees who are the best in the industry and the best in our communities.”
“From the safety patrol in Belfield to Parks and Recreation here in Dickinson to a rodeo in New Town in a couple months to... you name it,” Halsey added. “MBI’s name has been involved in those types of things for 40 years and it’s something that I think everyone at MBI feels really proud about.” The company also takes pride in being the best place to work in the west, with its employees enjoying competitive pay and wages, but also something even more valuable: opportunity. “Some of our divisional leadership, those are people who were with the company multiple years ago working in the field,” Halsey said. “One of the additional draws in MBI is the opportunity that people have had to advance their careers and make themselves and us better.” Brandon Halsey is an example of this. Now Director of Business Development for the company, Brandon started out five-and-a-half years ag as engineering technician for saltwater disposal. From there he worked his way up, and he said that this experience is a great benefit to his leadership role. “It’s absolutely beneficial,” he said. “Knowing what the individuals on the ground are going through on a daily basis helps craft the management style and give you an understanding of the challenges they
MBI fosters a tight-knit familial culture, Armstrong said. “We are focused on our employees and the relationship they have with each other within the company,” She said. “I think we have more of a family feel than most energy companies.” MBI’s demonstrated longevity is especially advantageous to the company, as according to Craig Halsey there’s going to be need of energy services in the Bakken for many, many years. “Clearly what has happened in the Bakken has been very significant. There is still a large amount of natural resource under the ground in North Dakota, both in the form of crude and gas,” he said. “Those reserves will last several more generations at least. Every day there is improving technology that allows us and producers to bring more and more oil out of the reserves that are under the ground. If you were to look back a couple years, 97 percent of the oil was being left behind …that’s improving, but there’s still a lot left that could be recaptured. It’ll be around and it’ll be around for an awful long time.”
North Dakota has erupted onto the world sceneas an oil producer, and MBI has been through the ups and downs and seen a lot of change -- among the most significant has been the change the state has gone through to grow and integrate the sudden weighty demands on its infrastructure. “North Dakota is better prepared to deal with larger workforce, road infrastructure, healthcare, education, recreation, all the things that if you were here in the 2013-2014 time frame were a huge struggle,” Halsey said. “That limited significantly the amount of work that could be done in a day, and the number of people who can be housed.” Now, though, North Dakota’s sitting at the second largest state in oil production -- it produces more oil than Venezuela, Halsey noted -- and McKenzie County is the second largest oil producing county in the United States.
With the future looking bright ahead, MBI remains firmly dedicated to ensuring that what they and their workers love about North Dakota remains preserved even as the oil industry digs in for the long haul. “The vast majority of people who work for MBI call North Dakota home. That’s different from many of the other companies here and many of the producers. Many of the people have a large percentage of their workforce on rotation … on MBI, a vast majority our people live here,” Halsey said. “So you obviously want to take care of your home. The philosophy of MBI has always been to take care of home. We have a very robust health, safety and environmental group that monitors our activities, we’re closely aligned with government and local agencies to improve process and report things as they happen to ensure that if something goes wrong it is taken care of quickly and efficiently.”