THE problem is, Caledyne could soon get to a size and possess the skills that make it eminently suitable as a snack for a larger service company.
It happened to Nodeco and Petroline. They got eaten by Weatherford. So what if Weatherford was to make an approach?
“That’s always possible. I think that everyone has a price; but selling’s absolutely not our strategy right now,” said van Dort. “I have a number of things that I want to achieve and one is to mature some of the new technologies we have developed.”
But surely the nature of the relationship between van Dort and his fellow directors at Caledyne and Weatherford would be different – director/owners this time and not merely employees, as was the case with Nodeco and Petroline?
“Absolutely. But I think that once you’ve tasted being your own boss and working for yourself and being able to make your own decisions, it would be quite hard to go back to working for someone. I’m sure that it will come. Most companies that I’ve been involved with in the past have had something like a 10-year cycle. But we’re very early into that with Caledyne … only four years.
“For me to achieve the value that I put on Caledyne and some of our patents and products, it needs to be a very substantial amount. If someone was to come along and offer that, then I don’t see any reason why one shouldn’t consider it.
“But it doesn’t mean I have to go work for them.”
That said, the hours might be easier.
“I’d say one works twice as many hours as one would working for somebody because you’re there seven days a week and 12 hours a day, and holidays are sporadic, if any.
“We’ve spent a long time without salaries. We’ve made huge sacrifices … I speak for all four of us.
“It’s a very unstable, up and down type of life that you lead. You do it because you want the reward at the end.
“I think that, right now, what we’re seeing is that we’ve had the hard time; we’re starting to return a profit and next year it will be much larger. So, all of a sudden, the income we generate at Caledyne becomes greater than the salaries we previously had at Weatherford.
“If we can grow that then maybe there will be no need to sell … we would continue … though we don’t want to be a huge service company. That’s absolutely not our strategy.
“Caledyne will grow, I’ve no doubt about it. We’re signing a number of longer-term contracts right now that probably require less of me pushing all the time and I can look at other things. But I think that, if Caledyne was ever to be sold, I would probably move into the renewable energy sector. There are problems there, too, and finding solutions is brilliant fun.”