Nick Bauer

Nick Bauer

Posted on 2023-03-07 11:16:23

Bauer from Red Deer, Alberta, is our March/April Rig of the Month Driver. He
has worked extensively in and around the oil fields for many years, and this is
his story.

I grew up in Red Deer, Alberta, and my dad
was a truck driver working in the agriculture industry. As a kid, some of my
best days were spent riding along with my dad and his friends in their trucks. One
of my dad's proudest days was when my brother and I were driving trucks alongside
him. You couldn't have wiped that smile off his face if you had tried. Growing
up as a kid, it was always Western Stars, as that is what my dad drove. As I grew
older, I knew I wanted to get into trucking. My mom hoped my brother and I
would pursue different lifestyles, but we both got into trucking at about the
same time.

When I was 14 years old, I started working
for HL Powell Trucking in Red Deer on weekends and after school, where I helped
load and unload trucks in the warehouse. Then a downturn in the Oilfield came,
and I was let go. A couple of years later, I went to work for R. Robinson
Transport in Blackfalds, Alberta. They hauled drilling mud. I started out by
helping mechanics and washing trucks in the shop; when I finished high school,
I started working in the warehouse, loading and unloading trucks. It was fun
working in the warehouse, and I learned a lot about axel weights at the same

It was around 2003/2004 that I started
swamping on the deck trucks. At that time, many of the drilling rigs in Central
Alberta weren't running loaders on site. So we would haul the drilling mud to the
site, and then we had to unload it off the trucks and into mud vans by hand. It
was a lot of work hand-bombing 80 to 100 lb. bags of mud, but it was also a lot
of fun. Eventually, I started doing hotshots running a single-axel deck truck and
making deliveries myself.

Formula Powell Trucking purchased R. Robinson
Transport, and that is when I got my class 1 and started hauling by myself. By
the time I got my license, I was ready. The drivers at Robinson and Formula
Powell were all good to me. They taught me a lot and looked after me out on the
road. They would call and check in and were always available if I had questions.
The first truck I drove at Formula Powell was a 2003 T800 Kenworth with a 48-inch
Flattop bunk. It had a C15 Caterpillar engine. It was a beautiful truck. In
2007 I was asked if I wanted to help out with dispatch, and I accepted and
started working in dispatch as well as still driving when needed. It was fun to
do both, but they were very different. In 2009, things slowed in the Oilfield,
and I left Formula Powell.

I went to work for Ferus Inc out of Red
Deer. At the time, I didn't know how long I would work there or the places it
would take me. I started in February of 2009, and there were some hurdles to
cross as I was only 23, and they usually only hired people 25 years or older. They
managed to bring me on board as a driver, and it was the first time I drove a
tri-drive hauling cryogenics. I started off hauling liquid Carbon Dioxide to
well sites in Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan. The first truck I
drove at Ferus was again a 2003 Kenworth T800 with a 48-inch flat top, so I
felt right at home. It was a nice truck powered by a C15 Caterpillar engine.

About a month after I started, the fracing
industry began to slow due to the recession, and they had to reduce staff, but
I made the cut, and they kept me on. At the time, none of us knew how fast
things would turn around, and luckily it wasn't long before things started to
pick up and became very busy again. Eventually, I started hauling Liquid
Nitrogen as well. Not long after that, they bought new trucks and put me in a 2009
Kenworth T800 with a 60-inch mid-rise bunk tri-drive. That was the first year with
the Cummins ISX Engine. I only drove this truck for a few months before being
approached by Ferus to help out in dispatch because they knew I had previous dispatch
experience. I enjoyed what I was doing and agreed because it was only "temporary"
until they hired someone full-time. What I didn't know then was that I wouldn't
drive a truck at Ferus again any time soon. I spent the next three years
dispatching for Ferus and eventually moved on to being the Logistics Supervisor
and finally took over being the Logistics Manager. They were doing work all
over North America at the time. Over the next few years, we dispatched hundreds
of loads into the United States, so I learned about cross-border shipments and
the rules and regulations for each area we hauled. I met many great people over
the years at Ferus, and I was treated like family. Some of our coolest projects
were in North Dakota, delivering thousands of tons of products into the area.
The logistics required to haul the products to the Border and then unload and
reload them onto compatible trucks to North Dakota was pretty amazing to think
back that we managed to pull it off without any delays or problems at the well site.

Through my time at Ferus, I saw many ups
and downs in the Oilfield. Eventually, in 2020, Covid came, and Ferus had to downsize.
They finally closed the Blackfalds shop where I worked. They offered me a
driving job until things picked up, so there I was, back behind the wheel,
driving a 2020 Peterbilt 567 Tri-Drive with a 72-inch bunk. This truck had the
X15 Cummins and the Eaton Ultra Shift Plus automatic transmission. I wasn't
sure how I felt about driving an automatic transmission, as I had only ever driven
an 18-speed stick before. The first few weeks were the biggest adjustment
looking for a clutch or reaching for a shifter that wasn't there. It was also an
adjustment to get back into the truck hauling liquid Carbon Dioxide again.

My first haul was in Lloydminster,
Saskatchewan. Two other guys working in dispatch/ driver training also went
back to trucking, and we had a lot of fun, but after a few days of hooking up and
unhooking these heavy hoses, we all felt it. We weren't used to the physical part
and were moving around like old men - all stiff and sore. None of us wanted to
admit it, but finally, we were all at the plant loading, and one of the guys
asked, "Are you guys as sore as I am?" I said, "I don't know how
I got out of the bunk this morning." Working in dispatch for so many years,
we had all forgotten the physical aspect the drivers go through, hooking and
unhooking hoses or chaining up multiple times a day. So, this was a good
reminder. Eventually, Covid really slowed things down for Ferus, and there wasn't
enough work to go around, so I offered to leave, not knowing at the time what I
was going to do.

A few days later, I got a call from an old
friend I had gotten to know while working at Ferus. It was Abu, the owner of
Bizi Transport Inc out of Blackfalds. We regularly chatted about life and
trucking. He just happened to call and see what I was doing. He told me to come
to see him the following week, so I did, and he offered me a job doing Sales
and Business Development for him. I accepted the job in May 2020 and started
working at Bizi Transport.

I met a lot of great people at Bizi
Transport and had a lot of fun while working there. During my time at Bizi
Transport, they expanded into deck work, LNG hauling, Cryogenic work, Oilfield
and specialty chemicals. The things Biz transport achieved in the two years
while I was there were amazing. The different things we learned and had to
troubleshoot while we were expanding made the job fun. The team at Bizi was very
diversified, and Abu had people from all the different parts of the
transportation industry working there. It was great to learn about the many
aspects of the industry.

At the end of December 2021, I went to
work at a shop Bizi Transport had in Fort St John, BC.  It was a satellite branch set up while we
were working in the area. I worked to help get the branch set up as a full-time
facility. I started by interviewing and hiring local drivers in the area, and
then I would spend the day in the field checking on drivers, helping mechanics,
moving equipment around and doing sales. I even spent days hauling frac sand on
large projects when drivers needed time off.

During this time, I had a lot of changes
going on in my personal life and felt I needed a change. I talked to Abu about this
and finally, in June of 2022, decided it was time for me to pursue something
else. Once again, I didn't know what I would do, but an opportunity came for me
to work for Trican Well Service Ltd. in Red Deer. I had known all the guys in
dispatch for a while, so it made an easy transition. I was hired as a Sand Bulk
operator in the logistics department but didn't make it into the truck for a
few months. I ended up jumping in and helping out with Transport Dispatch to
cover for the regular dispatcher's holidays. I eventually got into a truck, and
my assigned unit was a gem. It's a 2013 T800 Kenworth tandem with a 54-inch
High rise sleeper, 475 horsepower ISX Cummins, and an 18-speed Eaton
Transmission. This beautiful truck is fully-loaded with a leather diamond tuff
interior and a pneumatic blower. Trican buys beautiful trucks and equipment for
its operations and maintains them to the highest standard.

At Trican I hauled a little of everything.
I transported Nitrogen, Frac sand by hopper bottom Super “B”, or pneumatic
trailers. I hauled cement and moved equipment. I enjoy Trican because it is
something new every day. In logistics, we work with all the Frac, Coil Tubing,
Cement and Nitrogen departments. It doesn't matter what department I work with;
I always feel welcome with the crew. Everyone works well together and gets the
job done. As a driver, a big bonus, as far as I am concerned, is Trican's
dispatch lets us know what we are doing and then allows us to do it. I hate
being micro-managed. I'm treated like an adult. The managers at Trican are good,
approachable, and knowledgeable. For anyone looking for a place to go or get
into the industry, I would strongly encourage them to consider Trican. I feel I'm
paid great for my work; the benefits and RRSP program are top-notch.

I enjoy the challenge in some of the
places we go. The other day, I was hauling into a remote area full of very
steep hills. I was fully chained up, and there was a large hill. As I was
climbing it, all you could see over the hood of the truck was the sky. It was a
beautiful area to see with the mountains around and a bit of a challenging
drive. It couldn't get any better, in my opinion. Although had you asked me to
go there for my first winter driving, I would have been afraid. It is pretty
cool to think about where I was my first winter to how comfortable I am now. I
owe it to many good people who gave me tips and showed me things over the years.
It's fun now when new drivers come on, and I can pass along what I know. One of
my favorite parts is the people I meet on my travels and hearing their stories.
It is incredible.

I still dispatch to cover for holidays and
drive the rest of the time, which gives me the best of both worlds. I really
enjoy the job. As I reflect back on how I got into the industry to where I am now,
I can't help but laugh and smile. It feels like I have gone full circle. I've
met a lot of amazing people over the years that are passionate about trucking.
A lot of these people have become lifelong friends that I hear from weekly. We
all like to chat and hear about the adventures we have all been up to. It's
been a great career full of rewards and benefits, and I look forward to what
the future has in store.