By April 20, 2015 Read More →

Bront Bird: NFL linebacker turned Permian entrepreneur

NFL players entrust Bront Bird with savings to help start West Texas pipe inspection company

What do professional football and oilfield businesses have in common? According to Bront Bird, running his Midland-based pipe inspection company like an NFL team gives him a big leg up over his competitors.

Bront Bird

Bront Bird, former San Diego Chargers linebacker and Permian High star. Photo: Markham Hislop.

Bird brings the same fiercely competitive nature to business that made him a star at Permian High (Go Panthers!) and an inside linebacker with the San Diego Chargers from 2011 to 2014. He retired at the grand old age of 25 after his pension was vested, turning his attention to his other great passion, business.

“I always like to win in everything,” Bird told American Energy News. “It’s fun to see how far you can push yourself in anything, whether it’s sports, business or whatever.”

Bird was already an experienced entrepreneur when last year he bought a Permian Basin pipe inspection company that was shutting down.

“My brother was in California with me and we were kinda looking at businesses, looking to get into a service company,” said Bront Bird. “One of our buddies in oil and gas knew a guy who knew a guy who was selling his business.”

Bird says a lot of NFL veterans are broke – 84 per cent of them after just four years – because of a party lifestyle or bad investment advice. Mostly the latter.

Bront Bird

Bront Bird during his playing days with the San Diego Chargers.

“I partner with a lot of guys in the NFL,” said Bird. “There’s a lot of people who steal money from players. This was an opportunity where I had a need because it takes a lot of money to start a company and there was a need for players to find somebody they could trust to invest their money.”

Bront Bird put together a business plan and pitched it to names many NFL fans will find familiar, including right guard Louis Vasquez of the Denver Broncos, retired Pro Bowl guard Kris Dielman, and former Charger Jarret Johnson.

“It’s crazy. Half these guys were over 30 – 11 or 12 years in the league – when I was talking to them. Maybe I look trustworthy,” Bird laughs. ” But we have everything together and we’ve made some guys quite a bit of money and hope to continue to do so.”

At least one of Bird’s business development strategies was a trifle, well, unorthodox. He knew little about owning an oilfield business, so he did what everyone does when they need information: He turned to Google.

“Honestly, we started this business off Google. We didn’t know anybody that knew anything about it. I didn’t know anything about oil and gas from the ground floor,” Bird said. “We ended up buying that guy out. Brought him and two employees down here and started March 1, 2014.”

A Millenial entrepreneur – Bront Bird was all of 25 when he launched SMOB Services – who researches his new business on Google is likely to be pretty tuned into digital technology and its application to managing a company. Bird says he has implemented a flat, incentive-driven management structure that gives SMOB a huge competitive advantage over competitors.

“Truthfully, the oil field is so far behind because people aren’t doing things electronically,” he said. “Lots of company still have to go out and get a paper ticket signed, information we put in an Excel file and email to the customer. Things have changed in the last five years, but lots of companies are still in the Dark Ages.”

SMOB jobs are scheduled using a smartphone app called GroupMe. Bront Bird says the app allows sales reps to schedule jobs on the fly without the need for a dispatcher.

“They can communicate, send photos when they are out on the job,” he said. “Everyone can communicate with them, so the chain of command empowers the employees.”

Another innovation was switching from an hourly wage for workers to a per piece flat rate that incentivized them to work smarter and harder. Bird says traditional ways of tracking workers – like installing GPS on trucks – are inefficient and just don’t work.

Employees are also awarded points for service above and beyond. “A guy can buy days off, a TV, gear – anything he wants,” said Bird. “We keep that stuff on a board. We have competitions over everything, like the crew that can do 10 jobs under a certain amount of time, that sort of thing.”

The business model seems to be working. In just a year, SMOB has expanded to 40 employees even though times are tough in the Texas oil patch after prices dropped by more than 50 per cent.

“Honestly, we would be a lot more than that by now if it weren’t for the price of oil,” said Bird. “We’re very strong financially and for us it’s just frustrating from a competitive standpoint.”





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6 Comments on "Bront Bird: NFL linebacker turned Permian entrepreneur"

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  1. Dominic Valadez says:

    The author failed to mention that Not only is Bront played for Odessa Permian. #GoMojo #fridaynightlights he played for #TexasTech… #gunsup #wreckem … No wonder he is a winner!

  2. Logan says:

    He also forgot to mention that half his employes quit because he pays them slave wages and is a complete dick

  3. Michael Pesina says:

    And, it’s Louis Vasquez not Basquez. Also, a Red Raider.

  4. Prescott says:

    Author is probably a Tshirt horn. Guns Up Bront!