Written by The Business Journal Staff
Just about every farmer in the Central Valley has had to dash at the dirt for new wells to sustain their crops. Fortunately, there are family-based companies like Arthur and Orum Well Drilling giving the task a personal touch and coming through in desperate times.
Founder Floyd Arthur’s experience harkens back to 1959 when family obligations prevented him from finishing high school, and he began learning the well drilling trade in Reedley.
Finally equipped with a rig for himself, Arthur launched his own venture in 1971 under the name Western Well Drilling.
He was soon joined by his brother-in-law Orvel and together, they catered to growers for many years. The new name Arthur and Orum Well Drilling stuck even when Orvel retired in 1989.
These days, the Fresno-based operation is an entire family affair with Floyd’s son Steve serving as vice president while his wife, Barbara, holds down paperwork in the office along with daughter Kim Hammond.
Hammond’s daughter Alyssa Lewis is also a secretary and son-in-law Matt Lewis has worked up the ranks for 20 years and now does trouble-shooting for the business.
Even Steve’s teenage boys Michael and Brandon come in to do odd jobs when not at school.
“It’s very nice to come to work and be able to work with family,” Hammond said. “We not only work together five or six days a week as a family, we socialize together.”
Employees are treated just like part of the family, Hammond added. Together, they celebrate special occasions such as birthdays or new babies with cards and gifts and often, the company will help out with funeral expenses when there’s a death in the family.
“Our guys are so awesome. They have just worked their tails off,” Hammond said. “If they needed to work on Saturday and Sundays, they would say ‘we’re going to do it because this farmer needs it.’”
Just as family ties are present in many of Arthur & Orum’s customer relationships, employees also have long tenures working alongside loved ones, Hammond said.
“We have brothers working together, cousins working together, fathers and sons,” she said. “We feel very fortunate that people want to bring other family members into our business to work together.”
And with the last four years of drought conditions in California, there has been no shortage of work available.
Reduced water allocations to farmers mean the company has had to drill even deeper—often more than 2,500 feet—for groundwater. Several years ago, residential properties also became a lucrative market, with now three of the seven rigs dedicated to drilling new house wells as older ones run dry.
Luckily, Hammond said Arthur & Orum has the know-how and techniques to keep up with the demand. But mostly, it’s a personal touch that sets Arthur & Orum apart from competitors and gives the company 95 percent repeat business, Hammond explained.
For one thing, she said, the company is one of the few drilling operations that have allowed people to make payments for their water wells. Also, the quality of work and dedication to customers is still at its best despite stressful times.
“There have been instances where we drill the well and for whatever reason it fails through no fault of our own, so we go back and drill another well for no charge,” Hammond said. “We feel it’s our responsibility to go back and make it right.”