Case Studies

Dutcher-Phipps Crane & Rigging Co.

Reaching high and doing the heavy lifting in Western Texas

The Permian Basin, a substantial oil and natural gas producing region, spans from Lubbock, Texas, to just south of Midland and Odessa and extends westward into southeastern New Mexico. Since 1973, Dutcher-Phipps Crane & Rigging Co. (DPCrane) has been serving the area with some of the most trusted knowledge, service and experience in the taxi-crane industry.

True to the adage, everything is bigger in Texas, DPCrane delivers the most up to date cranes in the industry from 60-ton truck cranes to 400-ton all terrain cranes operated by skilled operators with decades of experience.

“Being a crane operator isn’t an easy occupation,” explains Kenny Dutcher, president and CEO of DPCrane. “One day he might set a heavy compressor and the next day a bridge beam. Another day it might be setting an industrial air conditioner. Either way, a crane operator has to be a problem solver. He’s got to find his way to the job site, keep the equipment up and running, meet and communicate with the customer, analyze the job from what’s involved to how to do it safely while looking out for all personnel on-site.”

The integrity of a family operation

Dutcher knows just how demanding the job can be after doing it for many years in the field following in the footsteps of his father, Paul Dutcher, cofounder of DPCrane. “My father and his partner Calvin Phipps started DPCrane in 1973 with just two cranes,” reveals Dutcher. “In the 1970s, drilling was going strong and this area needed cranes to support it. They started out moving drilling rigs but in the 1980s, drilling went down and we started to look for work in other areas.”

Dutcher’s father retired in 1993 and Phipps soon thereafter in 2000. “I took over the company in 2000 and many relatives from both families are still involved now,” notes Dutcher. “On the Dutcher side we have Robin Erwin, my second-oldest sister, who works here as our office manager and my brother-in-law Billy Riley is chief of operations and my two sons, Zack and Tyrel, are supervisors. On the Phipps’ side there is Richard Phipps who is our safety director and Clint Phipps who is also a supervisor for DPCrane.”

The company’s family ownership has fostered a culture of honesty and integrity that’s hard to match. “We deliver cranes and service on time,” says Dutcher. “We do what we say and we say what we do and we try to be honest and upfront, even when it hurts. Integrity is important in everything you do and it comes back around.”

Safe, efficient expertise from the ground up

DPCrane started with just two cranes, but the company now has 15, having recently added A Grove TMS9000E. From its home base in Monahans, Texas, all the way to San Antonio, major oil and gas companies trust DPCrane. “We serve approximately a 200-mile radius but we’ve traveled to Arizona and Oklahoma,” says Dutcher. “If someone wants our service because they trust us then we’re willing to go.”

The company employs 50 professionals, including a range of seasoned crane operators. “Our crane operators learn how to operate cranes from the ground up,” explains Dutcher. Every one of DPCrane’s operators starts as a rigger and learns proper equipment operation over a period of one to three years.

“This ensures that we know their work ethic, safety habits, dependability and knowledge before they are ever considered as an operator,” continues Dutcher. “Furthermore, all of our crane operators are NCCCO-trained and -certified. We have earned several zero accident awards through the years, as well.”

While DPCrane works mainly with regional oil and gas companies, the firm’s focus on integrity, work ethic and safety have attracted customers from a range of sectors. “We do a great deal of maintenance work in the wind turbine industry and work with many mechanical contractors,” reveals Dutcher. “We don’t limit ourselves to any one area, but the majority of our work is in the oil industry.”

DPCrane frequently moves gas compressors and offers the lifting and setting of oil tanks and tank batteries and separators. “We also send cranes out to assist in oil well completion operations,” notes Dutcher. “Oil well completions with coil tubing units and fracking often require a large crane with a lot of reach to hold coil tubing injector heads and wireline lubricators on top of the extensive blowout preventers.”

Dutcher goes on to note that the company recently participated in a plant shutdown near Lubbock, Texas. “The project involved 11 cranes and four night crews working around the clock,” he elaborates. “We were able to pull it off with 17 days straight without a single first aid or lost time incident.”

DPCrane has even done the heavy lifting for several historical jobs. “We moved a 160,000-pound concrete bunker from the airport in Carlsbad, N.M., to the Veteran’s Memorial Park in downtown Carlsbad,” reveals Dutcher. “This was an interesting job because the bunker was used to house ammunition in World War II and inside the walls were the signatures of hundreds of veterans. This took careful planning and execution in order not to damage the decades old structure.”

But whether DPCrane’s crews are in the oilfields or transporting a structure of historical significance, the company’s mission remains: “Our job is to offer the best service while improving the quality of life for our employees,” says Dutcher.

A new strategy

Crane operating is a strenuous profession that requires a sharp mind at all times, because one mistake could mean a life. “In January 2013, we decided to reward our employees for their hard work with a new paid-time-off program [PTO],” reveals Dutcher. “This is a very active economic area; every street corner has a help wanted sign, so we have to do what we can to keep our people happy.”

Dutcher decided it was time to allow for a 21 days on, seven days off rotation. “That adds up to about 13 weeks off annually, with the exception of one week for safety training,” he explains. “I have employees who have been with the company for a long time and they were getting burnt out. No amount of money can match time free to spend with family and we recognize that. Now, we have a surplus of employees.”

Not only has the new PTO program improved the quality of life for DPCrane’s employees, Dutcher says it also makes for better service for the company’s customers. “Our guys are sharper on the job and they have more of an incentive to do a good job,” he adds. “After all, if you can’t make your employees’ lives better then what’s the point?”

After four decades in the industry, Dutcher-Phipps Crane & Rigging Co. continues to deliver trusted crane service, backed by a content, dedicated team.

Published on: July 21, 2014

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