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Ricky Roderick

AKA “The Rocket”

Senior Technical Advisor, LUFKIN Don-Nan

‘The Rocket’ has been with Don-Nan for over 35 years and has more than 40 years of Sucker Rod Pumping experience. His credentials include not only being a legendary storyteller but also being an industry expert on sucker rod pumps. He has been sharing his expertise by co-authoring papers, presenting at conferences, and teaching hundreds of pump schools to Universities and Clients, both domestically and internationally. This year, he is being honored with the Southwestern Petroleum Short Course Association highest industry honor, the J.C. Slonneger Award.

Rocket, February 2018. Novi Sad, Serbia
Rocket and his wife, Laura. April, 2019 at Luckenbach, TX

Tell me about your style as a leader and a mentor.

“I love what I do, and teaching others. I’d like to think I lead by example which I learned early on from Don. I am usually the first one in, last one out and if I ask someone to do something in the shop like clean the washer, it’s because I’ve done it myself. I’m the kind of guy that isn’t afraid to say – that isn’t going to work, because I have years of experience in the field but I also like new ideas, and enjoy discussions with our engineering staff.”

Laura and Rocket, Halloween 1987, Midland, TX

Rocket’s 1969 Z 28 Camaro at Penwell Raceway, 1986

Rocket, February 2018. Novi Sad, Serbia

Are you surprised to be receiving this honor?

“I am amazed and humbled to receive this award because I didn’t go to college, in fact, I barely made it through high school because I am dyslexic. Fortunately, I have always been mechanically oriented, since I was a little kid I would take apart radios, the lawnmower – and put them back together again.”

He applied that natural mechanical aptitude when he started building pumps in 1986 and has become a recognized expert in low flow artificial lift.

Rocket and his wife, Laura. April, 2019 at Luckenbach, TX
Laura and Rocket, Halloween 1987, Midland, TX

You have had an amazing career, what has been the secret to your success?

Along with his long list of accomplishments, Ricky helped develop and commercialize staple product lines which now exist at LUFKIN Don-Nan, such as the Don-Nan Packer Style Gas Separator, Sand Diverter, among many others.

“I’ve been really lucky that people saw something in me, and encouraged me to stretch beyond my areas of comfort, to get out of the shop. Somebody telling me – go to the failure meeting, or attend the presentation, interact with people across the company. It is also the relationships that I’ve made along the way with my clients and with my co-workers.”

Knowledge Sharing session, November 2019, Salvador, Brazil.

You used to race Hot Rods, what do you do in your spare time?

“I’ve raced hot rods since High School but these days I enjoy working on the ‘Rocket Farm’ my wife Laura and I built together. We have chickens, turtles, dogs, and cats and we have planted over 200 trees of all kinds, and a vegetable garden. We even have Blue Bonnets and nobody in this part of Texas has Blue Bonnets”

What’s next for you?

“Well, I can’t imagine retiring! It’s a new chapter in my career now that the company has been bought by LUFKIN. I think I’ve done really well considering I’ve never been a “corporate type” and I don’t fit that corporate mold.”

If you could share any career advice, what would it be?

“The main thing is, what you wind up doing, it’s not necessary what you set out to do but when you do it, do it to the best of your ability and don’t let anything get in your way, be passionate, don’t spread gossip, work hard and enjoy what you do every day.”

Why do they call you Rocket?

“That’s a great story, for another time.”