A 24-year veteran of the oil and gas industry, Trevor Muir has worked his way up from instrumentation apprentice to CEO of Surepoint Group, but you won’t find him behind a desk in a corner office. He gave the space up when his company was short on room, and he now spends most of his time out in the field with his employees and clients, even lending an extra hand on projects when necessary. Here, he discusses his leadership style in more detail and explains what makes Surepoint unique.
Advantage: Have you made any notable operational changes since being appointed CEO?
Trevor Muir: We were going through a pretty difficult time when I took this position. Morale was probably at an all-time low, and we weren’t being very profitable, so we did a fairly major restructure. We shut down five offices, we expanded two main locations, and we moved more people into common locations. Not only did it take some overhead out of the business, but it also helped us get all the people in the same building that needed to be together. It just helps to build that team mentality, and there’s a lot of value in coffee talk, as I like to call it; even with really good processes and systems and conference calls, you just can’t replace that face time.
Aside from not having an office, what makes your leadership style unique?
I’m finding out that in a leadership role, you do what works for you. I’m a pretty social guy, I came up through the field, so I lean toward being field- and customer-oriented. I really like to spend time with our people. It’s what makes me tick, and it’s the reason I get up every day, and most days I don’t feel like I’m really working. I like to believe I’m a person who really cares. I don’t want to just know my employee as the person who comes in and fixes the problems in the field; I want to know them as the mom and the dad and the brother and sister and aunt and uncle, so I do my best to get a feel for who their families are and what they like and don’t like and what are the challenges that their families face when these guys have to go away for 21 days at a time—because all of that is important to us at Surepoint.
Begins an instrumentation apprenticeship with BC Measurement
Founds Matrix Measurement Limited
Joins as a founder of Surepoint Group
Starts Surepoint’s Nisku, AB, division, which grows from zero dollars in revenue to $2 million in its first quarter
Sells Surepoint to Wynnchurch Capital, a private equity group based in Chicago, IL
Takes over as Surepoint’s CEO
How else do you stay connected to employees?
Something I do a lot of is send out personalized texts to our people, especially during the holidays. It’s something I started when we were a small company, back when I was still a project manager, but now I send about 300 of them on Christmas Day. I get up at about 3 a.m. so that I can be done by 6, when my family gets up. People ask why I do it, and it is sort of self-serving because I send out 300 Merry Christmases, but I get 300 back, and that’s a pretty cool thing.
What differentiates Surepoint from its competitors?
Our number one differentiator in my mind is our culture. We look at our relationships with our clients as partnerships, and that means sometimes you have to give a little bit. We have this philosophy of doing the right thing because it’s the right thing to do. We have a lot of integrity, and we stand behind what we do. If we do something improperly, we put our hand up right away. At times, there’s a cost impact to that, but I’ve found that at the end of the day, you get it back a thousand times because you build a trust with the clients, which equates to long-term business relationships.
What projects, past or present, are you particularly proud of?
In 2007, we put the first automated drilling rigs into Australia with Eastern Well Group, whose former CEO I just happened to strike up a conversation with while I was washing my hands in the bathroom at a restaurant in Edmonton. [It turned into a relationship that helped build Surepoint Nisku, a project that made up about 90 percent of Surepoint’s $18 million in revenue that year]. He has since sold that business, but the new leadership team and another client recently brought us in to do the electrical and controls on what will likely be the most advanced automated drilling rig for Australia. It’s a state-of-the-art rig, and I believe it will be the most technical rig in that country. We will have some people on the ground over there that will help commission it and get it going, so we’re pretty proud of that.