'I used to work in a construction store nearby, but I found it very boring and predictable,' Erwin explains. 'A friend told me about Wagenborg Foxdrill and the work that they do and it sounded really interesting. So I wrote an open application and I was hired for the operational team. That was over 26 years ago and I haven't had any regrets!'
'For the work at Wagenborg Foxdrill, there is no specific education but there are trainings and courses for certain work and skills that you can follow, such as rigging/ banksman or rope access. It all starts with having the right technical know-how and mentality. Engaging with technology and projects, wanting to learn from others, plus following work instructions and procedures: these are all aspects that count.
But it is especially important that you fit into the team and can work well together. For example, if you are on a project abroad, you spend a lot of time together and have to solve things together. You have to be able to rely on each other and trust each other. It's like a marriage," Erwin laughs.
'For my first project, I was allowed to go abroad right away, to Bad Bentheim. Just over the border near Oldenzaal, but still abroad. At a drilling contractors' site, we rigged up an onshore drilling rig for testing for a drilling project in Azerbaijan. Over the years, we carried out all kinds of rig moves for this client worldwide,' Erwin reflects.
'We still do those rig moves and I am now involved in these projects as a project manager. So my work has changed in the past few years and I spend more time at the office in Oldenzaal. That's nice, because it means I am home more often.
I am also closely involved in our conductor installation projects. This involves piling a conductor pipe in the surface layer of the earth, through which a drilling rig can drill to great depths. Nowadays, these are increasingly geothermal drilling projects for hot water deep underground. The hot water is then used to heat houses, greenhouses and industry. A nice sustainable development,' says Erwin.
'As project manager, I have a different role in the preparation, execution, and completion of projects than when I was still in the operational team. The experience I gained there was very useful for my current work. When preparing and planning work, I can make a good estimate of the equipment, personnel and timeframe needed and I know most of the customers quite well: I have worked closely with them on projects. That creates a bond and makes it easier to communicate'.
'Actually far too many experiences to name. The fact that we were working in the far north of Norway at -20C and a few weeks later in the Middle East at + 40C. What a huge contrast that is! My first trip to Nigeria was also quite an experience: you could only travel there when accompanied by strongly armed guards. Driving through the country like that when a road block suddenly appears is a bit of a tense moment. Fortunately, it all ended well!
I won't forget one trip to Siberia easily: the authorities wouldn't let me enter the country. We assumed I had the right visa in my passport but on arrival this proved not to be the case. So I was refused access to the country. The next flight was not due until three days later and until then I was stuck. I can tell you: it was no hotel room!'
Erwin is clear about that: "Go for the challenge! With my move to Wagenborg Foxdrill, I decided for technically challenging and varied work under extraordinary and sometimes extreme conditions. That appeals to your technical skills but also shapes you personally.
Far abroad, you depend on each other and the circumstances are sometimes difficult. That can be a challenge at times. But whatever happens: we finish the job together as a team!