RMI Supply offers variation in how chemicals are offered to customers. Here chemical has been blended and is prepared in a tote transportation medium for clients needing large quantities. Photos courtesy of RMI Supply.

RMI Supply Secures Market Share Through Controlled Growth and Quality Service


Tales of the entrepreneurial spirit secure a sizable portion of space in the history books and continue to shock and impress spectators benefiting from the technology or advancement set forth. The range of success is often defined by company size and profit margin. As a populace, we have fallen victim to the thought that bigger is better. While people like Bill Gates and Henry Ford have left an unwavering mark on society, the entrepreneurial spirit mustered by small business America often pales in the spotlight.

No matter the level of recognition mustered, the modern entrepreneur refrains from giving the notion a second thought, and Mark Workman, president of RMI Supply, is the same. His definition of success reigns as a simple recipe of controlled growth, offering a quality product, and prevailing as the absolute best in customer service.

After graduating from college in 1992 with a psychology degree, Workman quickly became overcome with dreams of being his own boss. He opened a trucking company, making runs to and from Canada. By 2008, he managed over 300 phone calls daily and fell victim to burnout.

Like most entrepreneurs, Workman took a chance in what at the time seemed like one of the unlikeliest places – oil and gas. Although a resident of Montana, he attended a seminar hosted by Wells Fargo Bank in Minnesota. Workman spent three days attending and determined the message was: Oil, gas and coal are good.

“I always had an entrepreneurial spirit,” says Workman.

With the intent to offer a speedy turnaround, RMI Supply keeps an abundance of PHPA chemical in stock and ready for delivery.
With the intent to offer a speedy turnaround, RMI Supply keeps an abundance of PHPA chemical in stock and ready for delivery.

The seminar proved informative, and Workman returned home and began visiting mining companies. Three years later, RMI Supply emerged as an up-and-coming specialty chemical company.

“My first order came from Weatherford,” says Workman. “They ordered six million pounds of Gilsonite over a year. At that point, I knew I was on to something.”

Anyone can dream and desire to have a self-employment career, but it is not easy. It can be daunting and demands commitment. Workman credits determination as critical to meeting goals, including starting a business.

“Not quitting is winning,” says Workman.

The orders would soon start coming in, only verifying what he believed all along. Making great contacts and being true to his word would lead to stellar references. Workman and the RMI name became a staple of the oil and gas industry, with the niche being discovered in specialty chemicals directed at managing fluid viscosity.

Workman is a proud resident of Montana, and RMI services the Rocky Mountain corridor to Texas. With the boom gracing West Texas, Workman indicates that 80 percent of his product is directed to customers in Midland, Texas. With significant activity taking place in the industry’s drilling and completions sides, viscosity chemicals are undoubtedly in demand.

While today’s oil and gas industry appreciates technological advancement and directs attention and funding to improve the existing instead of investing in the new, Workman has guided RMI into a niche market that confirms that sentiment. Reducing nonproductive time, reducing the energy exerted, and decreasing costs enhance profitability are precisely what RMI’s products do.

When addressing the completions side of the industry, hydraulic fracturing demands large pumping systems to inject chemicals into the wellbore to initiate the fracking process. Those fluids are introduced to friction as they travel downhole. RMI offers a solution in its friction reducer that changes the viscosity, making the fluids slick for easy passage in and out of the wellbore.

“People do not often associate friction with liquids, but it is a real thing,” says Workman. “Our friction reducer increases efficiency, and we can produce eight loads daily in totes or pails.”

In addition to offering Xanthan in liquid form, RMIS Supply provides the product in a powder option.
In addition to offering Xanthan in liquid form, RMIS Supply provides the product in a powder option.

RMI’s viscosity solution additionally brings an elevated efficiency level to the drilling side of the industry. With its ability to be utilized as a critical additive in water-based drilling fluids, liquid PHPA can be used with low solids to weighted mud systems. RMI blends up to 10 loads per week and offers it in totes and bucket packaging. While other suppliers currently experience nearly six-week delays, RMI provides a quick turnaround in just a few hours. Customers can typically expect delivery on the same day, depending on when the product is ordered.

RMI provides customers with additional viscosity solutions such as liquid xanthan and xanthan powder. The company’s product line provides the ability to improve efficiency, reduce friction, and stabilize and thicken fluids as needed. The resulting cost savings can have a significant impact on increasing the customer’s profitability.

Workman believes the oilfield as a whole has tightened the belt and trimmed down. This is evident as the industry has witnessed significant activity in mergers and divestiture dealings within the past two years alone. With the industry’s size shrinking, defining a niche and managing customer service proves critical.

“We originally tried to offer a much larger product line and it was difficult to remain personable and offer good customer service,” says Workman. “We realized the importance of viscosity products and identified that as our niche market where we can earn a good living, offer quality products, and provide premier and consistent service to our customers.”

By identifying a demand, Workman created a stakehold for RMI to compete in the current oil and gas market, which financial experts have predicted to be flat regarding spending in 2024. It additionally helps that the RMI customer base is diverse, with all bidding for the same work.

“We might bid the same job for multiple customers,” says Workman. “In most cases, we are going to get the work we have estimated because our customers are competing against each other. Either way, we get our portion of the scope.”

According to Workman, the oil and gas industry sometimes presents a confusing persona. In all other industries, price dictates who wins bids. In oil and gas, however, consistency and dependability often prevail as the deciding factor over price. Here, the importance he places on customer service wins over his market share.

Although superior products and a hyper responsibility to satisfy customers secure business, communicating the importance and significance of his products brings challenges. He recognizes the resistance to change and new products at times.

“I have offered a free tote simply to get a potential customer to try it,” says Workman. The oilfield, however, largely subscribes to the notion that this is the way we have done it for years and will continue to do so.”

Relying on the skills developed from good business practices, Workman sees a bright future for RMI and its ability to help its customers and improve the oilfield. It involves increasing the footprint but maintaining a strategy that has already proven effective.

“We want to create more stability,” says Workman. “We will expand our space but keep operating in the same fashion. With the big guys getting bigger and the small guys getting out of the industry, we believe RMI has a place in the middle.”

Workman sees an opportunity to continue his partnership with clients. It is a careful balance to take on more work, but also to continue to operate under the same standards that have served the company so well and so far. He reasons that entrepreneurs must identify what purpose drives their spirit.

“It’s not about money. Instead, having the time to spend with my family and live in Montana drives me,” says Workman. “Freedom is the only currency that matters.”

Headline photo: RMI Supply offers variation in how chemicals are offered to customers. Here chemical has been blended and is prepared in a tote transportation medium for clients needing large quantities. Photos courtesy of RMI Supply.

Author Profile
Nick Vaccaro
Freelance Writer and Photographer

Nick Vaccaro is a freelance writer and photographer. In addition to providing technical writing services, he is an HSE consultant in the oil and gas industry with twelve years of experience. Vaccaro also contributes to SHALE Oil and Gas Business Magazine, American Oil and Gas Investor, Oil and Gas Investor, Energies Magazine and Louisiana Sportsman Magazine. He has a BA in photojournalism from Loyola University and resides in the New Orleans area. Vaccaro can be reached at 985-966-0957 or nav@vaccarogroupllc.com

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