Peters Drilling celebrates 25 years in business
It’s been 25 years since Greg and Marilyn Peters sat at their kitchen table with pencil and paper and a calculator, running the numbers and taking deep breaths before jumping into business for themselves.
Now, they have a fleet of trucks and drilling rigs working out of a modern office on Idaho-Maryland Road, in Grass Valley, and a large service department to handle the pumps of thousands of customers in the area.
“It’s been good,” Marilyn Peters, 54, said Monday. “We enjoy the challenges and we’ve had good people working for us.”
They also have worked hard to build a reputation for service to the customer, brought a more professional approach than people were used to seeing at the time, and drew confidence from Greg Peters’ and other employees’ experience and natural mechanical abilities.
And, having seen hard times before, they kept a hand on the reins when times were good, Marilyn Peters added.
This weekend they’ll be celebrating their success, but in the early 1980s, things were tough.
The couple had grown up in the area and were attending college in Sacramento when Peters was expecting their first child. They decided to move back to Nevada County, and Greg Peters took a job with Aufdenkamp Drilling, where his father, Joe Peters, was working.
He stayed with Aufdenkamp about 10 years, while Marilyn Peters had two more children and ran a daycare business in her home.
One Saturday, a customer called Greg Peters to fix a pump, and he stayed out there all day until he got the thing working.
Marilyn Peters recalled what the customer had told her husband: “You’re the kind of guy who should be in business,” Harry Steffen had said.
Greg Peters started studying for his contractor’s license. They almost started one year, but the economy was slipping. They waited.
With Steffen’s encouragement and the backing of Marilyn Peters’ father, they mortgaged their house on Griffith Drive, just past the Nevada County Fairgrounds, in 1983 to buy a used Ingersoll Rand T-4 drilling rig for $65,000.
“It was huge,” Marilyn Peters recalled. With so much at stake and such desire to succeed, the couple poured themselves into the work. “I remember plugging in the telephone and hoping it would ring.”
With no advertising budget, they made up fliers and put them all over town. Through the people the family knew, the jobs started coming in. Marilyn Peters answered the phone and kept the books at night after the children were in bed. Greg Peters drilled jobs, then made appointments on his off days.
Within two weeks, they knew they needed help, so they brought in dad Joe Peters to handle appointments. Eight months later, they hired Marilyn Peters’ brother, Jerry Murphy, to help with the drilling.
The kitchen table continued to be the center of their world.
“I’d be making oatmeal for the kids, and the drillers would come in and eat,” Marilyn Peters said. Children Rachel, Megan and Justin remember awakening at 7 a.m. on summer mornings to the grating roar of casing being perforated out in the yard in preparation for the day’s job.
One day in December, the casing truck broke down at the house, and the delivery man came into the kitchen to use the telephone. Mom Peters was rolling out Christmas wreaths for baking; to make his call at the wall-mounted phone, the delivery man sat in the flour on the low counter where she was working.
“I told Greg, ‘I’m done with the kitchen. We need to do something,'” Marilyn Peters said.
They first built an office over the garage, then moved to the property on Idaho-Maryland, then bought the land, then expanded. Steffen continued to push and encourage them, and they hired his son, Greg Steffen, who has been with them 23 years.
With the slowdown in construction, drilling has dropped off, but the pump service department keeps them busy, Marilyn Peters said.
And the kitchen table continues at the main boardroom. “We talk all the time and plan,” Marilyn Peters said.
Daughter Rachel became an accountant and lends advice. Megan earned marketing degree and helps with publicity. Justin’s degree is in criminal justice, but a year after graduating, he came home to head up the service department.
Employees including Mike Alcala, who came to work there 22 years ago when he was 19, keep the business strong.
“They’re all hard workers,” Marilyn Peters said. “It’s a hard job, and they just get out there and do it.”
Peters Drilling can be reached at 273-8136. For more information about the business, visit http://www.petersdrilling.com.
To contact City Editor Trina Kleist e-mail email@example.com or call 477-4230.
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