Torres, the founder and operator of Stars and Stripes Rig Service of Denver City, Texas, is making a name for himself as a tackle-anything mechanic heading up a crew that shares its leader’s go-getter attitude. Torres’ shop has been a welcome resource where oil and gas operators in these parts are concerned.
But Torres, for his own part, sees his service area as a region extending far beyond Denver City. Stars and Stripes ranges over much of New Mexico and Texas in their quest to keep workover rigs and other oilfield equipment and hardware operational. Down time equals fast-mounting losses in the oil patch, and having a crack team around does a lot for everyone’s peace of mind.
Competition is what drives him. Torres, 38, says he absolutely loves to compete. And he always has something to prove.
“We do everything from top to bottom on these rigs,” Torres says. “All kinds. Workover and drilling rigs alike. We work on them here on site, and also out on location. We do everything—engines, transmissions, drawworks, hydraulics, tubing repair, tong repair, rod repair, weight indicators, line scales—anything that pertains to rigs.”
Bobby Madron, of Tyler Well Service, in Hobbs, has known Torres for years, and calls him “the best rig and diesel mechanic in this part of the country.”
“I haven’t run across anything he can’t fix. He gives it 100 percent and he will work on it until he figures it out. His hands put out the 100 percent too.”
Madron says that the increased computerization built into today’s pulling units hasn’t deterred the Stars and Stripes bunch. “They can fix it,” he says.
And then there’s customer Johnny Aranda, of Cavaloz Well Service, also in Hobbs. Calling Torres someone who is easy to get along with, Aranda goes on to say that the mechanic is “real intelligent.” Torres “does what I need done for my equipment.” Aranda’s equipment includes 15 well servicing rigs.
“The fact that he lost his wife and has raised his six kids by himself—I just don’t know how he does it. I haven’t the slightest idea… I have three of my own, so I know it’s a full time job. But he was raising them as babies, and has still been able to manage his business. He has a heck of a head on his shoulders. He’s always ready to go out there and do what needs doing. Nothing keeps him from trying to help someone else.”
Cenci was her name. She was 29 when she was killed in a car accident in 2005. Born and raised in Denver City, she attended the same school where Michael went. She took a Cosmetology degree as he went to work in the oil field.
“I was left with the kids to raise,” Torres says. “And I have not remarried. Just been working and supporting a family.”
That family consists of the twins, now 22, plus the younger boys, down to the youngest who will turn 10 this spring.
“Trying to be mom and dad, that is the hardest part,” Torres said. “There was no way I was really a mom.”
He worked mostly by himself for three years before he “bit the bullet” and hired people and plunked for more equipment.
Stars and Stripes runs four service trucks, two of them Peterbilts and two of them 550 Fords. Each is like a mechanic shop on wheels. Each has a crane of either 10,000- or 12,000-lb. capacity.
Born in Slayton, Texas, Torres moved with his family to Denver City in 1984. He found work in the oilfield when he was only 15, working with his brother at G&G Tongs. From there he went to Key Energy Services, then to Pemco (in New Mexico) and on to Watson’s Truck and Supply, (in Hobbs). This was his last stop before going out on his own in 2007, at the urging of many of the people he’d been serving over the years.
Robert Reyes, vice president of operations at Lucky Well Services, Hobbs, is a customer who has used Torres for years. “There are times we can go a week without calling them,” he says, “then we may have a week when we call them all week. When it hits, it hits.”
Jim Ford, equipment manager at Westex Well Service, Midland, started using Stars and Stripes when the rig repair outfit hired a young man Ford had been using for Westex’s own projects. “We wanted to keep using Derrick, and so I followed him over there [to Stars and Stripes],” Ford said. “Mike has been more than supportive of us in our times of need. On numerous occasions he himself has gone to the rig to supervise a job. Always answers the phone. Always available.”
It’s a common refrain.
“Mike does things right,” says Darby Vaughn, owner of Permian Radiator, a Hobbs-based outfit. “If something needs to be changed—something that was sent out from the factory but doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do—he can make it do what it ought to do, and can make it stay in service longer.”
“He’s a family-oriented guy who has had the courage to go out on his own and has excelled tremendously,” Vaughn said. “I don’t know what else to call it—just courage. His company is growing, and it is because of his workmanship.”