In the dynamic world of oil and gas, where adaptability and innovation reign supreme, Kurt Richard stands as a paragon of leadership and vision. With a remarkable career spanning over two decades, he is the managing director and CFO of KUDO Energy Services and Atabec Safety Lock. The chronicle of his journey is an embodiment of seizing opportunities, fostering teams, and rewriting the norms of an age-old industry.
Kurt's story is one of fortifying encounters and strategic acumen. He has cultivated an extraordinary ability to assess risks and respond with precision to even the most challenging situations, making him an instrumental force in the industry. His life's mantra is centered around the belief that building a triumphant organization is synonymous with building and empowering a trusted team. Kurt's path has been paved with A vast range of opportunities, each contributing to his diverse skill set and unparalleled foresight.
Notably, Kurt's ascent to success has been propelled by hands-on learning and an insatiable work ethic, outweighing formal education. While he holds qualifications such as the Accredited Canadian Credit Union Director from Dalhousie University and a range of certifications from the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology and Alberta Construction Safety Association, his real-world experiences have been the crucible for his growth and his penchant for learning remains a perpetual flame. With aspirations to acquire an Institute of Corporate Director’s Designation from Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto and pursue an MBA, Kurt’s relentless pursuit of education mirrors his commitment to pushing boundaries and transcending conventions.
Propelling KUDO Energy Services forward, Kurt oversees financial health, human resources, and HSE functions. KUDO is a trailblazing entity that provides pipeline and facility maintenance and construction services, catering to the optimization and new construction needs of national and multinational E&P clients. Since its establishment in 2015, KUDO has solidified its presence as a key player in Alberta’s heavy oil sector. In 2018, KUDO Energy earned recognition as the Most Promising New Business and The Lakeland Business of the Year Award.
Kurt's remarkable journey continues as he spearheads Atabec Safety Lock, a subsidiary of KUDO Energy Services. Acquired in 2021, Atabec is pioneering a revolutionary safety and optimization system for conventional rod pumping units in the oil and gas industry. This innovation, the Atabec Safety Lock, is a pumpjack lockout tool that redefines safety protocols and operational efficiency. Kurt and his team have reshaped the original design and patent to yield a tool that not only enhances safety but also accelerates production timelines, translating into significant financial gains for oil companies.
Atabec's pioneering technology has garnered global recognition, earning invitations to prestigious events such as the Artificial Lift Research and Development Council’s International Rod Lift Forums, Society of Petroleum Engineers' Artificial Lift Conference and Exhibition, Texas Technical College's South West Petroleum Short Course, and has yielded the opportunity to be promoted under the Canadian Pavilion at the upcoming Mossoro Oil and Gas Show in one of Brazil’s largest producing regions. With an estimated market cap well into the billions over the next five years, Atabec's system has the potential to reshape the industry's landscape.
The Top 100 Magazine sat down with Kurt to delve into his journey, motivations, and the emergence of The Atabec Safety Lock.
Kurt, could you share a bit about your background and how it led you to your current roles at KUDO Energy Services and Atabec Safety Lock?
Certainly. My journey in the oilfield industry began as an 18-year-old aspiring commercial pilot turned truck driver moving massive drilling rigs; as I did not want to pursue my dream in debt, I learned as I could fund it, “if you pay for it, you will respect it” and “cash is king,” as my father always said, has always resonated with me through my journey. I later transitioned to crane operation and eventually took on management roles. Alongside that, I managed my own commercial finances. While my initial aspiration was to become a commercial pilot, as I still hold a commercial pilot's license, I found myself drawn to the oil and gas industry due to its substantial earning potential. I realized the opportunities it presented for growth and success were immense. Life's opportunities often come in various forms, and seizing them with determination can lead to great accomplishments.
Atabec Safety Lock emerged as a solution to protect your team in the field. Could you tell us more about that?
Indeed, Atabec Safety Lock's inception was driven by the desire to enhance safety for our team working in the oilfields. Current industry practices often put our people at risk, which prompted us to be open to safer solutions. At the time, we were involved in assembling new pump jacks and performing various field tasks with KUDO Energy Services. The idea of Atabec's safety lock made immediate sense to us, as it aligned with our daily operations. When the opportunity arose to collaborate with Atabec and become certified installers, it was a natural fit. The solution's potential to safeguard lives resonated deeply with me, and that's when we decided to take a more significant role in bringing Atabec to fruition.
Is there a particular person or quote that has influenced your leadership style and innovation approach?
Not a specific quote but a person whom I’ve listened to extensively. Kevin O'Leary, also known as "Mr. Wonderful," has been an inspiration to me; though not specifically focused on the same industry, business is business. From my lens, as a leader, I believe in empowering individuals within my team. Placing people in the right positions and allowing them the chance to learn from their experiences is essential. I encourage calculated risk-taking because it fosters growth. I'm driven to create successful teams that can operate independently, even in my absence. A crucial aspect of leadership is creating an environment where failure is treated as a steppingstone to success. Instead of pointing fingers, we learn from mistakes and use them as opportunities to improve. This approach not only cultivates a strong team dynamic, but also encourages innovation and creative problem-solving.
Kurt Richard's journey is a testament to the power of seizing opportunities and fostering a culture of empowerment. His dedication to safety and innovation, as seen through Atabec Safety Lock, reflects a commitment to the well-being of his team and the industry as a whole. As a visionary who leads by example and encourages growth, Kurt is shaping a path towards success in the oil and gas sector.
Managing Director and CFO
KUDO Energy Services and Atabec Safety Lock