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Watford native is thriving in his chosen career path and ever-growing family
By Amy Robinson
Jeff Kummer, Watford City native, hasn’t only been recognized for his leadership in the oil and gas industry as one of 20 ‘rising stars’ in the Oil and Gas Investor Magazine’s “20 Under 40” campaign, but was also recently promoted from Senior Vice President of Operations – Well Intervention at MBI Energy Services to President of Operations.
“I’m honored to be part of a management team that is essentially a family business,” said Kummer. “One of the really unique things is that Jim Arthaud, who started this business in 1979, is from this area and remains our CEO. Additionally, our management team is from western North Dakota, which can not be said for any of our peers on this scale. This business has been around for a long time and it’s about as local as it gets.”
Kummer graduated from Watford City High School in 2001 and always had the motivation and desire to achieve and obtain a successful career. He started on that path by pursuing a degree in petroleum engineering. Because Kummer’s family had a history working in the oil and gas industry, he had been acquainted with the opportunities a career in this field could provide for him.
Kummer began his educational journey at the University of North Dakota. He obtained a B.S. in Petroleum Engineering in 2006 at the Colorado School of Mines. Considering the importance of not only having an education, but also having experience in the field, Kummer decided to take a job one summer working on an offshore drillship in the Gulf of Mexico.
He then moved into several engineering internships in different parts of the U.S. that eventually steered him toward his first professional job with Encana as a drilling engineer in the Jonah Field in southwest Wyoming. When drilling activity started picking up in North Dakota in 2007/08, Kummer saw the potential and quickly reached out to EOG Resources in Stanley, where he flourished in his position as an operations engineer working out of their Stanley, N.D., office.
About five years ago, while he and his wife, Valerie (Norbeck) were living in Minot, raising two of their now three children (with one on the way), Kummer was contacted by Jim Arthaud, CEO of MBI. He was presented with an undeniably good opportunity to finally move back to Watford City with his family. He could take a position as the operations manager at MBI Oil and Gas, the sister company of MBI Energy Services. It was a position that he decided to take.
In the nearly five years Kummer has been with MBI, not only has his position evolved and grown, the business itself has celebrated several milestones. In 2011, MBI began broadening its areas of operation and service offerings, which led to other unconventional resource plays and moved across more service lines via acquisition and organic growth.
Then in 2013, the U.S.G.S. revised its assessment of technically-recoverable reserves in the Williston Basin to 7.4 billion barrels of oil.
“We went from two locations and about 200 employees when I first started,” said Kummer. “Then that grew significantly over the past couple of years to what it is today, which includes 16 locations across three states and 1,850 employees. We started growing through acquisitions, which is what helped us get to where we are today. Today, MBI Energy Services is the largest independent oil field services company in the Williston Basin.”
To work for a company that is so invested in his hometown community has been a highlight for Kummer in both his professional and personal lives.
“One of my hopes for the future is expanding on the business that Jim built,” stated Kummer. “It focuses on people, family, and is a big contributor to the community. From the small scale it was 35 years ago to what it is now – it just continues to have the same values and it continues to be a good place for people to work at and call home.”
When it comes to the current market, Kummer feels that MBI has been able to take a ‘breather’ from the boom cycle and he feels that it has allowed them to take a step back, reorganize, and make their business more efficient.
“I think that the current market we’re working in, which has been struggling, has given us a good opportunity to get out of the boom phase and focus on our people and the business,” said Kummer. “We can update our processes, focus on employee development, be proactive with our safety initiatives, and position ourselves for future opportunity. One thing that is distinctive about MBI, however, is that we have a sister company in the exploration and production business. Being tied to both aspects of the business makes our opportunities even more interesting.”
When Kummer isn’t busy tackling his duties as president of operations for MBI, he has been involved with several organizations, groups, and extracurricular activities. Kummer was elected Chairman this year for the UND Petroleum Engineering Advisory Board, a board he has been a member of for close to three and a half years. He was appointed by Governor Dalrymple two years ago to serve on North Dakota’s Oil and Gas Research Council.
Kummer has also sat on the Watford City JDA board for several years, is a member of the Airport Authority, takes great pride in his continued coaching of the Watford City “Termites” hockey team – for children age six and under, and is active with the Epiphany Catholic Church.
Kummer has been married to his high school sweetheart, Valerie, for eight years and together they have three children, ages ‘almost seven,’ five, and two, with one on the way.
“God willing, by the end of next month,” said Kummer, “we’ll have four.”