In many ways, Brian Krause, vice president of Travelers Oil & Gas, was raised by Red Adair, the noted well control expert. Having Adair as a surrogate father was exhausting, challenging and always interesting.
As a blowout specialist for Adair's company from 1978 to 1995, Krause has a lot of colorful stories to tell about the famous oil well firefighter. Many are a little too "colorful" to print here.
"Red Adair was the king of 'my way or the highway,' " says Krause.
He can recall one rather hilarious example of Adair's tenacity: Adair's team had just landed on site to address an oil well fire in Sumatra when a helicopter landed in front of them. Executives from this major oil company emerged from the helicopter, blades still spinning and said the CEO wanted to be briefed on the situation immediately.
Adair grabbed Brian for the ride, and together they boarded the helicopter--dirty, sweaty jumpsuits and all. They traveled to an airport where they boarded a private jet to Singapore. Once in the bustling city they were taken to the company's high-rise offices. Adair gave a 40-minute presentation on the plan of action to a room full of executives.
One of the oil company's most brilliant engineers began questioning Adair on his approach and stood up to explain a different tack that would be more effective. Krause recalls that while the man was talking, Adair elbowed Krause in the ribs and whispered, "Take off your clothes."
Disbelieving, Krause whispers back, "What?!" Adair responded with force: "You heard what I said. Take off your clothes." So Krause did. He and Adair stripped off their dirty coveralls and Adair threw them on the shoulders of the baffled engineer.
With parting words that only he could utter, Adair said, "It's your show now ... "Then he looked at Krause and motioned him out the door of the boardroom.
"We were on the 20th floor of this high rise and rode the elevator all the way down to the bottom," recalls Krause. "I was on the streets of Singapore in my underwear wondering what the hell we'd do next."
The pair soon saw one of the executives running out of the building, waving his hands and begging them to come back. He promised that they could return on their own terms. "Red taught me the balance between arrogance and confidence," Krause says. "You've got to have the arrogance to tell them ... off, but the confidence to know you're doing the right thing."
Looking back, Krause laughs. "Those days are long gone."
June 1, 2008
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