Ground Water Canada

Features Business Success Stories
Top 10 Under 40: Thomas Williams

September 4, 2018  By Ground Water Canada

Thomas Williams of Red Williams Drilling in Parksville, B.C. enjoys working in challenging conditions in locations that are hard to get to.

It’s hard not to feel good about the future of the ground water industry after talking with 10 young people who work hard and love what they do.

Ground Water Canada put out a call to readers to tell us about outstanding young professionals who exhibit outstanding leadership, skill and dedication to the industry. Readers came through with an impressive sampling of the industry’s best – including Thomas Williams. Read on to learn more about this young well driller enjoys working in challenging conditions in locations that are hard to get to.

Thomas Williams, Red Williams Drilling Ltd., Parksville, B.C.


Thomas Williams, 34, is operations manager for Red Williams Drilling, the namesake company owned by his father.

Officially, Williams started drilling in 2003; unofficially, he’s been in the business most of his life.Williams the younger didn’t always want to be a driller. He had studied at Malaspina University-College to be an auto mechanic when he decided to shift gears and join the family business.

He likes the work, he says, adding that there is enough mechanical and maintenance work attached to water well drilling to satisfy his interest in all things mechanical.

Most of the company’s jobs fall within 300 kilometres of the shop in Parksville, including Qualicum Beach. They do work related to fish farms, commercial and residential irrigation, water treatment, fusion HDPE, water delivery and pump service and repair.

About 20 staff carry them through their busy season, including two pump crews, two drill crews.

Williams works in the oil patch during the winter and he enjoys the change of scenery. He recently spent four months in Norman Wells, N.W.T., working for ConocoPhillips. Among other things, he took samples and checked that fracking wasn’t affecting the ground water. He also enjoys the chance to meet drillers from across the country, noting he recently got to know some drillers from Newfoundland.

Working along the southwest coast of British Columbia in itself provides a lot of diverse working conditions. “It’s something different every day,” he says. He recalls an interesting job he worked on recently drilling geothermal wells – one 600 feet, another 400 feet – into a mine shaft for Vancouver International College. They used a 150-horsepower pump, and he is looking forward to being on hand for the firing up at the end of August. “It’s a unique project,” says Williams, who had done roughly one dozen geothermal jobs before tackling this one.

Drilling is a demanding job with long hours and seasonal work, says the young driller, whose favourite aspect of the job is working in challenging conditions in locations that are hard to get to. For that purpose, they have a smaller, limited access rig that drills about five feet at a time as opposed to the 20 feet a larger rig would typically drill. He is going to Nimmo Bay this fall to complete one such job. The resort on Mount Waddington will be changing its water source from surface water to ground water, a process he expects to take about a week. He flew up earlier this summer – and back again the same day – to size up the location and requirements.

Well owners have been generally slow to register their water wells, as required by the relatively new ground water regulation. Although as a driller he is not involved in the licensing process, he is on the ground educating people on well registration requirements and often helps walk well owners through the process. Registration is “not the most straightforward,” he says.

While some customers are more interested in the drilling process than others, Williams is always mindful of the customer’s point of view. “For some people, drilling a water well is the biggest gamble they’ll make in their lives,” he says.

For fun the young dad of four enjoys dirt-biking, snowmobiling and generally being outdoors with his wife, Nestle, Lily, 11, Andrea, 9, Anna, 7 and Kaiden, 4. Recently they were able to join him in a cabin in Shoal Bay. “It’s nice when that happens,” he says.

Read about others who made our Top 10 Under 40 list of top young industry professionals.

Print this page


Stories continue below