Photos courtesy of Badlands Tank Lines.

Family Values, Spousal Sacrifice Pays Off for Badlands Tank Lines

Roger Johnson, CEO, Badlands Tank Lines, recently announced new Bakken assets acquired from Marathon Oil on The Crude Life Media Network. During the interview, the CEO discussed how Badlands Tank Lines has grown over the past several years to become one of the largest oilfield service trucking companies in the United States.

“I started my career working for Flying J. Prior to them being purchased by Pilot, I was an accountant in the trucking group. So, I kind of understood trucking from the accounting side of the business.”

Johnson’s background created a positive environment for looking at an energy issue with a bean-counting troubleshooter point of view, as well as an oil and gas approach to the industry.

Roger Johnson
Roger Johnson. Photos courtesy of Badlands Tank Lines.

“This allowed me to look at trucking, transportation, accounting and logistics in a new innovative way.”

He also reminds listeners that innovation isn’t always tangible things like robots and lasers; rather, the innovation involved is often the information and the thought-worker’s time and energy.

“[The new marketplace] was just eating at me; my gut just would not let me settle right.” Johnson says. “I just knew there was a better way to do this and today we’re very clearly the biggest carrier in the Bakken and in the U.S. for that matter.”

This ticketing system continued to expand over the years, eventually into dispatching and carrier management systems, allowing Badlands Tank Lines to manage multiple disparate contract carriers and provide a seamless and painless solution to their clients.

“I was able to track revenue per truck revenue per driver. I built the model. I just looked at that and thought, holy smokes, these guys have had terrible service, terrible operations,” Johnson says. “Everything about what they do is substandard and they’re charging sky high rates.”

Johnson knew what the sustainable solution was.

“I said, ‘There’s got to be an opportunity here.’ I’d always had an entrepreneurial bend to me. I went home, I showed my wife and said, ‘I need to start a trucking company.’”

After it became clear to everyone that the contract model was not sustainable, Johnson acquired his own fleet of trucks to deliver more dependable and consistent service.

Badlands Tank LinesThat was just the beginning. Now comes the main part of the story: His spouse’s support.

“If she had not had the faith in me that she did – I don’t think most wives would have put up with what my wife did,” Johnson recalls. “I mean, we were in that beans and rice stage for a good three or four years. When you know, I had had a good six figure job as a trader.”

Johnson continues explaining how much his wife sacrificed for their family business.

“My wife is somebody who as a child was homeless for a couple of years, literally lived in a tent for a while as a kid,” Johnson shares. “So, for her, home and security are a big deal, and to take that risk on me [and] say, ‘Hey, I believe in you. I think you can do it,’ this is a huge step. There’s no way I could have done it without her genuine support.”

That support landed Badlands Tank Lines a new contract with Marathon Oil and helped position the company as one of the largest crude carriers in the industries.

“I learned as an owner, [as an] operator, growth was really hard. I was always cash poor. Every time I’d add a truck, it increased the working capital. You’ve also got drivers, and maintenance, and fuel, and you’re doing all of the hard stuff sometimes, but I was able to understand how to set up payroll, how the drivers needed to be treated, right?”

Reprint from OILMAN Magazine – November/December 2023

Author Profile

Jason Spiess is a multimedia journalist, entrepreneur and content consultant. Spiess has over 25 years of media experience in broadcasting, journalism, reporting and principal ownership in media companies.  (Over 30 years experience if you count his adolescent years as a newspaper delivery boy learning the importance and logistics of daily distribution and monthly door-to-door bill collecting.) Spiess has worked in the areas of oil and gas, UAS and precision agriculture, health care, cannabis, agriculture, real estate, government affairs and economic development. Spiess is the host of two radio programs, Building the Bakken and Coffee & Capitalism, and three specialty programs, MonDak OilField Review, Corporate Ink and UnStuck, that carry a radio network that spans five states and two countries. Spiess is a North Dakota native and graduated from North Dakota State University.

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