(We talked with Bob and his wife, Eddy Hayes, who also prepared a detailed account of some of their lifetime experiences. It's the kind of account we would like to have for all our Oilfield Veterans (and sadly, for most, we will never have). To read this interesting account - click here.)
To say that Bob Hayes had a varied background would be a classic understatement. His career included everything from a stint in the Air Force Reserves during World War II to working as a clerk at Eaton's. Most of his early career though involved driving buses. He worked for Brewster Tours in the Rockies and drove the Whitehorse to Dawson Creek run in the north. In fact, he and his family came to Lloydminster in 1951 because Greyhound transferred him here. The family took immediately to the Lloydminster area and really felt at home.
When Greyhound laid him off, he found employment with Dowell Incorporated on the strength of working one winter as a perforator's helper for Schlumberger. The current Perforating Engineer at Dowell wanted to head for greener pastures so within six months Bob had sufficient training to take his place and worked in the Lloydminster patch for the next three years. (It was during this time that he perforated a Fargo well at Lone Rock which was to be reactivated in 2002.)
Dowell transferred the Hayes family to Edmonton but laid Bob off when there was a slowdown in the oil business. Bob then went with Welex — a wireline company which immediately sent him to Oklahoma for training. This was another crash course but Bob later declined a transfer to Red Deer and went to work as a purchasing agent for Maloney Crawford Tank and Steel Company. On the side, he designed and had built an agricultural rock picker which he sold across Alberta and Saskatchewan. When the oil business picked up though, in 1964, the family headed back to Lloydminster. Bob believed the booming heavy oil industry around Lloydminster needed the services of a perforating company.
Bob Hayes started his own company - Wescan Perforators Ltd. No company in Canada supplied a unit designed for perforating so with plenty of determination, and the help of McCoy Brothers of Edmonton, Bob built his own perforating truck. He acquired some parts from Ft. Worth, Texas, drew up the design and manufactured the truck. As with most companies, the first few years were difficult. In June of 1965, he got his first job perforating an oil well for Fargo Oil at Lone Rock. Johnny Howes was the manager then and he saw the worth of the truck and all the work that had gone into it. Bob continued to work for Fargo Oil, Murphy Oil, Pacific Petroleum, and countless other oil companies. After this hard work he got his first big break. Imperial Oil, in Cold Lake, gave him a very large contract. For Bob, this was an opportunity to prove himself and his work. The company was on its way.
Interior of the Truck Bob Hayes designed and built to begin his business perforating oil wells
The hard work didn’t end with the first success. Bob needed more trucks, with new and expensive electronic equipment. This meant going down to Ft. Worth to arrange for trucks that would meet all the specifics required. This entailed a lot of paper work and long distance calls. When all this was done, Wescan had a truck that could handle both high explosives and radioactive logging. The next big challenge was to get this type of vehicle through Canadian Customs!
Wescan Perforators Ltd. was a true family business, competing successfully against industry giants such as Schlumberger. For the next 12 years, Bob and Eddy, and even the children at times, worked the long hours necessary. In addition to field work during the day, there was always plenty of paper work for both Eddy and Bob to look after. The entire family sometimes worked in the shop late into the night loading perforating guns. Then Bob would be up at 4 to go down to the shop to get things ready for the crews to go out at 6. Bob tried to do as much of the field work as he could, often taking the biggest work load. Over the years, the Wescan family included many loyal and hard-working employees. Les Gartner was one of those who made it possible for Wescan to do 3 or 4 jobs a day per truck. Jim Born was another whose dedication finally allowed Bob to take a vacation.
After many years of hard work, Bob Hayes decided that retirement was for him. At this point the company had nine employees. It was very successful and had grown to become an integral part of the heavy oil industry in and around Lloydminster. Bob sold the company to his foreman, Jim Born, in 1977. At this time the company had four perforating units, five half-tons, and two mast units.
Bob and Eddy Hayes and family
built Wescan Perforators Ltd. into a thriving
oilfield service business before Bob retired in 1977.
Anyone who knows Bob could have predicted that retirement wouldn't last long. In 1979, Jet Perforators of Edmonton established a branch in Lloydminster. Charlie Graham was the owner and he and Bob had had a very good relationship during the Wescan years, often loaning equipment, supplies and expertise to each other. In January, Bob took a position with Jet Perforators doing Sales and Public Relations. This worked very well for both parties through until Bob retired again in 1989.
Bob took retirement more seriously for a couple of years but then he and Eddy moved to St. Albert and Bob did some driving of chartered busses. Eventually though they concluded that Lloydminster was where their friends were and where they were most at home. Settled into enjoying friends and family, Bob was pleased to be included among the "oilfield veterans" who participated in the reactivation of Fargo # 90 near Lone Rock in August of 2002. It was a well he had perforated more than 48 years earlier. The chance to compare notes with veteran and current oilfield crews contributed to a successful reactivation and made the point that our current Lloydminster Heavy Oil industry owes a lot and can still benefit from the experience and knowledge of veterans such as Bob Hayes.
Bob was a part of the Lloydminster patch for more than 30 years. He saw first-hand the tremendous growth of Lloydminster, and he played an important role in the development of the wireline industry. Hard work, perseverance, adaptability, and innovation are qualities that typify the Lloydminster oil patch and they certainly found full expression in the career of Bob Hayes.
Bob passed away in October of 2007 but fortunately we were able to capture some of the details of his career.
For the extended Bob Hayes story - click here
For more on the reactivation project - click here