Advertisement
business

Starting Over in a Boomtown

This Arizona businessman moved to North Dakota to capitalize on the oil-shale bonanza and resurrect his finances.

Andy Kacic, 65, is one of many who have sought opportunity in Williston, N.D., where the unemployment rate is less than 1% and the population is projected to more than double in the next decade. Here is an edited excerpt of our conversation with him about his experience.

KIPLINGER: Why Williston?

Advertisement - Article continues below

KACIC: I got clocked by the financial crisis of 2008. I tried to reboot myself numerous times, but nothing was happening in Arizona. In 2011, a friend suggested that I come up here to check out the possibilities. On my first visit, I thought, “Geez, business in this town is going nuts! Maybe I should be based here.”

How nuts is nuts? The Bakken Formation is a huge play, and Williston is a boomtown. Companies are drilling 220 wells each month, and each well requires about 2,000 truckloads of something—pipe, sand, water and more—to put in the well and take out the oil. You can imagine the traffic. There will be work here for years.

You know oil and gas? I’ve been in the business since 1978, as well as in investment banking and real estate development. My background helps tremendously. I began building relationships immediately.

What work did you find? I offered my services as a “boots on the ground” consultant in Williston to a lot of my oil-and-gas contacts elsewhere. I’ve partnered with a major trucking company (my son manages its North Dakota division) and a construction company that hauls sand and gravel and builds housing.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below
Advertisement - Article continues below

How have you supported yourself? I’m earning base income plus profit-sharing with my partners.

Where are you living? Housing is scarce and expensive. A one-bedroom apartment runs $1,000 a month—two or three times the cost of a same-size apartment in Fargo—and a room with common showers in a barracks-type man camp can run $125 a night. Because of the lack of housing, most guys come up without their families. The ratio of men to women is about nine to one. When my son Jordan and I arrived in August 2011, we camped in the back of my friend’s pizza parlor. We had it good compared with people who were living in their cars in the Walmart parking lot. Now I rent a house with three other businessmen for $3,500 a month, all told. It isn’t the Ritz, but we’re thankful for what we’ve got.

What have you learned about North Dakota? This place—the weather and country roads—beats up your vehicle. I traded in my Cadillac for a 3/4-ton diesel pickup with an engine-block heater to help it start in the winter.

Do you have advice for others? If you’re starting over, this is the place. People who come out here are trying to save their homes, put their kids through school, pay their bills and work themselves out of whatever situation they’re in. They are grateful for the opportunity, in spite of the weather.

Anything else? Dress in layers, and don’t forget your waterproof boots.

Kiplinger's Top 100 Money-Saving Tips are guaranteed to help you save -- and make -- more money. Download them now for $1.99!

Advertisement

Most Popular

2020 Stock Market Holidays and Bond Market Holidays
Markets

2020 Stock Market Holidays and Bond Market Holidays

Is the market open today? Take a look at which holidays the stock markets and bond markets take off in 2020.
July 1, 2020
What Are the Income Tax Brackets for 2020 vs. 2019?
tax brackets

What Are the Income Tax Brackets for 2020 vs. 2019?

The IRS unveiled the 2020 tax brackets, and it's never too early to start planning to minimize your future tax bill.
June 20, 2020
Searching for the Perfect Place to Retire
Empty Nesters

Searching for the Perfect Place to Retire

We home in on two places with less traffic and lower costs. 
July 2, 2020

Recommended

Nursing in the Time of COVID-19
Financial Planning

Nursing in the Time of COVID-19

This health care professional warns that the pandemic will worsen the nursing shortage.
July 2, 2020
Chiropractor Trying to Get Business the Wrong Way – Illegally
careers

Chiropractor Trying to Get Business the Wrong Way – Illegally

A new chiropractor’s fledgling business plan to attract patients may sound reasonable at first look, but it’s actually against the law, and the same p…
June 30, 2020
13 Tax Breaks for Homeowners and Home Buyers
income tax

13 Tax Breaks for Homeowners and Home Buyers

Owning (or buying) a home is expensive. But at least there are some tax deductions, credits, and exclusions that can help you recoup some of those cos…
June 22, 2020
12 Things Every Home Buyer Should Do
real estate

12 Things Every Home Buyer Should Do

Buying a home may be one of the biggest purchases you will ever make.
June 12, 2020