D&M Well Service: A family and community business
Lessons in planning for the future of a family business.
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RANDY CURETON: In Southern Arizona, water is the key to life. Water wells that are drilled in the area and the pumps that we install in them to get the water out of the ground to the land surface are key to survival in the area.
DALE CURETON: We started D&M Well Service in 1990 when I was managing a ranch that had a lot of wells and we couldn't get anybody to come and service 'em. We scraped up enough money to buy a little bit of equipment, got started, and it's just evolved from there and got bigger and bigger.
RANDY: Growth has been exponential for us — over the last five or six years. Before that, we grew at a steady pace, as a small business, I think, should. When we grew the business from just a small family-owned company into the big agricultural irrigation work that we do now, everything exploded with it, including all of the accounting, the financial work, and the recordkeeping. And I realized that spreading files out on Mom's kitchen counter was no longer going to be good enough.
RANDY: It's my mom, my dad, and myself at the core of the business. We also have one of my best friends from high school who's come to work for us and has become our foreman. We consider him to be part of the family because he's grown with us and is just as big of an integral part of the company as we are.
DALE: The best part of working in a family business is the family. You get to be with your family every day. I don't know how it could be any better than that.
RANDY: I come to Mom and Dad's house every morning before we go to work about a half hour early, and we sit around and drink coffee and talk about our day, We have a lot of family together time, but it's 90% of the time talking about work. So it is tough. It's hard to differentiate between the two.
DALE: I would like to pass the business on to Randy tomorrow if I could, but we'll probably work into the next four or five years. He pretty much runs it all now. I just do what I can to help him. So it shouldn't be a big transition.
RANDY: My dad's always meant everything to me. And he's always been there at my side. And sometimes, he helps me along. And sometimes, he lets me fall just to find out that I was making the wrong decisions. But having him beside me has allowed me to take the risks and do a lot of the things that I may not have done without knowing that I have his support behind me.
RANDY: Wells Fargo has been phenomenal in helping us. When we were a small-time family-owned business doing hundreds of dollars per month in income, they were there behind us to help us with everything we needed. And now that we've grown into a much larger operation, they're still behind us. Everything from going in and making a deposit in the afternoon to giving us loans on these giant trucks and big equipment we've had to buy.
RANDY: We've actually been discussing our future quite a bit. I see huge opportunities for us in the future. I see a lot of opportunity to grow the business that we have now. However, I also think it's a really, really huge thing to keep a quality of our service at its highest. If we have to step back from growing and just maintain a steady quality to the customers we have now, I think that's important as well.
DALE: Margie and I have been here almost 60 years. So there's not a lot of people in the community that we don't know or know of. And you know, we've known them for years and years if we do a job for 'em and we want to do a good job.
RANDY: That's the key. Advice for other small business owners would be: do what you love. Be passionate about your work, and do what you say you're going to do. As long as I did something better today than I did yesterday, I feel successful.