Small town pride is alive and well in Ringwood, Oklahoma. Just ask one of its most devoted residents, Oscar Melendez.
“We have a great community. If you’re not farming, you’re probably a teacher, in oil and gas, the military or a veteran. We’re all mixed together and very close-knit. It’s a real American town.”
As the Health, Safety and Environmental Director at R&R Oilfield Services, Melendez sees firsthand how the contributions of a small town can play an important role far beyond city limits.
“Even here in Ringwood, we’re impacting the oil and gas industry. We’re coming together to affect the global market and global dynamics,” he says.
As America becomes a global energy leader, the progress can be traced back to not only large exploration and production companies, but also the small, independent shops.
“It’s important. Oil and natural gas power our homes, vehicles and technology,” Melendez notes. “Seeing how we play a role in the world advancing, that’s huge for us.”
Oklahoma’s leadership in deploying hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling continues to unlock new supply. This foot-on-the-pedal approach to innovation has not only doubled our proved reserves but also made the U.S. the top crude oil producer in the world.
When talking about Oklahoma’s vital role in advancing the industry, Melendez believes it’s the character of our people that uniquely suits us for the job. He points to how the state has overcome the challenges of tornadoes, droughts, economic uncertainty, the Oklahoma City bombing and more.
“We’re the right people to lead the industry because we’re resilient. We pull together and rebuild. Oklahomans are innovators and initiators. We believe there will be better tomorrows and we’re setting the tone for the rest of the country to follow.”
Melendez joined R&R Oilfield Services after his father and brother convinced him of its potential growth and long-term opportunity.
He and his wife are parents to a five-year-old son and a newborn baby boy. “I realized quickly, this was about more than providing for my family,” he says. “It’s honorable work.”
He’s watched the company expand from a handful of workers to over 120 employees and he takes great pride in the close relationships they maintain. “We know each other by first name. We eat lunch together. Some end up being one another’s best man in weddings or godparents to each other’s children.”
Employing veterans is also an important part of R&R’s community-minded culture. “It means a lot that we have a job waiting for people who come home from serving our country,” notes Melendez. “We try to provide more than a job and paycheck, it’s a family with real camaraderie.”
Growing up with four siblings, Melendez knows the challenges of limited resources. He remembers the struggle of having aspirations but not the funds to pursue them. So he and his wife make scholarships available to young people in their community.
“It’s not really designed for straight-A students,” says Melendez. “It’s for kids who want to be electricians, welders or maybe mechanics. More than just money, we’re giving them hope that they can do something even though they’re from a small town.”
A quick scroll through Melendez’s family photos reveals his passion for the outdoors. He runs marathons, 5Ks and mudruns every chance he gets. His appreciation for nature extends to his influence at R&R.
“I’m a big outdoors guy, mostly because of how untouched and beautiful it is. So, one of our primary focuses in orientation is environmental stewardship. We want to always leave things cleaner than we found them.”
Employees are empowered to stop work if anything looks as though it could go wrong. Each of the R&R trucks is equipped with spill kits and the workers are trained how to use them properly. Despite R&R’s impressive safety and environmental record, Melendez is familiar with negative opinions of the industry.
“I know a lot of people think oil and natural gas is tainting the environment. But I see the industry making progress, keeping streams, rivers, creeks and the environment clean,” says Melendez. “The industry as a whole is being very proactive, preventing spills and creating technology and equipment necessary to store and recycle waste.”
Much like the industry, you don’t have to look far to find a negative commentary on our state. But Melendez offers a different perspective. He suggests turning off the television and putting our phones down.
“Go to a local diner and see what people are talking about. They’re working hard, putting food on the table for their families,” says Melendez. “Oklahomans are providing energy for ourselves and the world. The oil and natural gas industry cares about its people and our neighbors, and we are constantly doing things to better ourselves.”
Melendez hopes to retire in Ringwood someday. He talks of leaving a legacy at R&R, maintaining the family feel as the company grows and setting the bar high for the safety professional that takes his place. He’s already well on his way with the reputation he’s creating. During orientation class a new hire speaks up, “You guys take safety really seriously, don’t you?”
Melendez responds without hesitation, “We take you very seriously.”