Integrity and the pursuit of excellence.
Since the day he decided to leave the security of a larger corporation to venture out on his own, the core values of integrity and respect have successfully steered Rod Phipps through many ups and downs in his pursuit of excellence.
Managing Partner at Lauren Services, Phipps says he listened to his entrepreneurial spirit after gaining invaluable experience across core areas of field engineering in his first job right out of university. Back then the job market was wide open for fresh engineering graduates.
“After I graduated, I went to work for Hudson’s Bay Oil and Gas, which was a very interesting company. They had a really good training program and that’s part of the reason why I selected them,” he says. “For the first 6 months I spent one month in the process group, one month in the completions group, one month with the drilling group, one month with the reservoir group, well testing, and production engineering. It was a great way to get experience.”
While developing his portfolio, Phipps also discovered he wasn’t a fan of corporate politics, and so he made his first foray into the consulting business. From there it was a leap of faith as he and a handful of likeminded individuals set out to carve a new path with a focus on quality, flexibility, and respect.
“We decided in early 1979 why not start up our own engineering company. So, we did. We rented a two-bedroom apartment in downtown Calgary and set up business. There were 3 engineers, a purchasing agent, a bookkeeper / file clerk, and a couple of draftsmen,” Phipps says of the early start-up days. “We were gung ho and excited about working on projects in the way that we wanted to do them, working with the clients, and they appreciated our drive and ambition. Nobody said, ‘well I’m above that job, I won’t do that’, and we kept that attitude throughout all the businesses I’ve been involved with.”
Through all the ups and downs of the oil and gas industry, recessions, and now a global pandemic, Phipps says he is “most proud” of the fact Lauren and its earlier iterations managed to remain a preferred place of employment within the industry. It’s something he doesn’t take for granted.
“What I’ve learned is that really the only way you can keep people motivated is to treat them with respect,” he says, “let them grow to their potential, listen to them – their opinions are valuable – and that includes not only the people that you work with but the people outside your organization. Your clients, your suppliers, the contractors, they all have value to contribute to the success of a project.”
It’s been a long journey, one that started with accompanying his father out into the field while he conducted seismic explorations in the Permian Basin in west Texas, and the vivid memory of geysers bursting forth from the ground. Today, his passion is in clearing the lane so the next generation of engineers can chart new territory as Lauren gains traction with its diversification into renewables, mining, and ports and terminals.
No matter how the industry may evolve, Phipps says, some things will never go out of style.
“When you talk about what’s important in this business, your integrity and your word are the most important thing. And you can’t take those lightly. Integrity is really one of the key things a person has in their life that they can hold on to,” Phipps says. “Don’t give your integrity away.”
With offices in Calgary and Vancouver, Lauren Services delivers dynamic performance and intelligent design across the entire suite of engineering services.