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Moore Well Drilling

Celebrating nearly seven decades of drilling in P.E.I.


A family owned business that has operated for 67 years has to be doing something right.

A family owned business that has operated for 67 years has to be doing something right. Ground Water Canada spoke with John Moore, the third generation in the business, about drilling on the Island and his motto of treating people fairly.

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Harold Moore (left) and John “Hap” Moore sometime in the late 1970s to early 1980s. 

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What have you observed in your many years in the well drilling industry?
I think for the most part, well drillers aren’t good businesspeople. A lot of the work we do is done for a fraction of what we should be getting. But if you want a chance to get the job, that’s what you’ve got to do. It’s like well drillers are afraid to make money. There’s no regulation – it doesn’t matter what kind of equipment or experience you have; you can do the best job and be the best driller in the country, and whoever is five cents cheaper gets the job. Over the last five years, I’ve lost probably four big jobs by less than $100 – not as much with the house wells, but more the bigger projects. And we don’t go off Island, and [drillers from] New Brunswick and Nova Scotia don’t come here.

There are some companies that go back and forth, but there’s barely enough work for everybody to make a living staying where you are.

What challenges must drillers face when drilling on the East Coast?
On P.E.I., the drilling is pretty good. In New Brunswick and Nova Scotia you get into granite and boulders. We’ll have some places here where you might get into 50 or 60 feet of mud and rocks, but it’s generally pretty simple drilling, just claystone and sandstone – we don’t have granite. But sometimes [drillers] can drill that easier than they can drill our stuff. They can run a hammer, but we can’t hammer through mud. Although, I wouldn’t want to have to go to some of these other places and drill. You would learn with experience of course, but you would hit stuff you would never experience here, and never will.

Has the geothermal industry been growing on P.E.I.?
The more systems are being installed by professionals, the more people are gaining confidence [in geothermal]. It will get busier and busier the more that happens. I think around here too, plumbers at first were a bit scared of it. They didn’t know a lot about it. I know some plumbers who put them in because the customer wanted it, but they still don’t really like them. People are just more traditional. P.E.I. is a place where things don’t change too quickly. It’s been done this way for a lot of years and it does the job, so they keep doing it that way.

It used to be, 10 years ago, you had a couple hot weeks in the summer and that was it. It’s getting hotter here, this summer has been really dry and hot, and it’s nice having air conditioning in the house and people just never thought of it before. Those things are available now and can be done at a reasonable cost. But the big thing is to have it done right.

Being in business for 67 years is quite an accomplishment. What’s your secret to success?
You’ve always got to treat people fair. We’ve been in business for 67 years and you could ruin your reputation in a couple of jobs. If I price a job, I price it at what I think it’s going to be, not what I think the customer wants to hear. And I’ve lost wells before because I’ve priced something at 200 feet where someone else prices it at 80 feet. The other person got the job and he was back three times to drill deeper. By the time he was done he was at 220 feet.

Being up front with the customers is best. You try to be right on, but I always tell people, “I’ll tell you exactly how deep your well is when we’re done.” I did two geothermal wells last week and we priced them at 130 feet each and they came back at 90 feet each. I’d rather do it that way.

Have there been many changes to the way you do business over the years?
We’ve always been a company that tries to evolve. I don’t like change for the sake of changing, but I like change if there’s a better way to do something; if there’s an easier way to drill a well and still come out with the same quality.

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Grandpa John “Hap” Moore in the early 1950s.
Photo by Moore Well Drilling


 

That’s why I like going to conventions and trade shows because I find you learn things from talking to other drillers. Most times I can go to [a trade show] and pick up one or two things that we can put into our practice, so it’s worth it.

And even though we’ve been around so long, there’s always someone who doesn’t know us. We do a lot of advertising in curling and hockey rinks; we do radio and television commercials. And we have a website – people look things up on the Internet, so you have to be there.

You never want to just assume that they will call and know who you are.

Customer service is obviously very important to you. How do you build a relationship with your customers?
I always encourage the customer to be there when we’re drilling if they can. I’ve had customers tell me that the drillers told them to stay away when they’re drilling. That would set off some warning signals for me. It’s interesting to watch and you don’t have to be a well driller to know when we have water and there’s a good flow there, especially for the wells we know are going to be deeper. I like to show people we’re 150 feet deep, the machine’s going and there’s nothing but air out of the hole. Its just nice if they can see it and they’re comfortable, they just get the feeling you’re not trying to pull something on them. To me your name is worth more than trying to steal a few extra dollars from somebody.

The bottom line is, no matter who does the job, I still want the customer to get the best possible result. You’re dealing with water; something that sustains life. I don’t get upset if I don’t get a job I’ve priced, I still want that person to have the job done right. You just try to be up front and treat people fair; do a good job for a fair price and most people are happy.