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Fitting it in: Love, work...and music

Mike Endrud can’t reflect on work, family and the life he and his wife have made in their hometown of Watford City without mentioning the memory of his first guitar. 

“It was Christmas Eve fifty years ago,” he laments. “A gift from my parents.” 

Endrud then moves methodically, like a well-written song, through the story of playing for the first time in public in fourth grade, how he started his first band at fourteen years old and continued as a guitarist in the eighth grade when his family moved from Mayville to Watford City. He mentions how he was a drummer in a Watford City band when he picked up the steele guitar and fell in love with it and then ends right where he is today, playing with a group of musicians in the local bars on the weekends.

“Music was always a way to keep me balanced,” Endrud said. “It is a constant.” 

And as that guitar weaves its way through his story, it becomes quite evident that this musician, husband, father, grandfather and oil industry professional approaches life, the way he approaches music—with unprecedented passion and commitment. 

A commitment that has kept him playing in bands throughout his life, celebrating his 39th wedding anniversary with his high-school sweetheart, Sharon, raising two grown sons, Brett and Todd in a neighborhood he loves and moving up the ranks in a profession he continues to excel in after nearly 40 years. 

“When you’re younger everybody wants to go away,” Endrud said of the brief time in Minneapolis after high school, stating that he quickly figured out his big city ideas were not meant for him. “We moved here and the jobs turned out, we were married and had kids and, well, this was home.” 

Endrud began his career in the oil industry in the early 1970s at 20 years old working on a workover rig for R.A Prather and Sons. Since then Endrud has held positions in nearly every aspect of the industry, from roustabout work with Texaco, then on to work in production as a pumper where he moved up as an assistant production foreman. When Texaco sold to Petro Hunt in 1995 Endrud was hired with the company in the same role in the Charlson field. In 2003 he was offered his current position as Production Manager for Petro Hunt’s district office and he remains in that role today, managing and coordinating production, completion and the fracing process for the Killdeer, Fort Berthold, Charlson, Tioga and Sidney, MT offices.

Through the years Endrud worked and watched as his industry went through drastic changes. He can tell you about when oil was $11 a barrel, how his company survived on a tight budget what it was like to know there was oil in the Bakken with no efficient way of retrieving it. 

“I remember when I was in a job that paid $4.60 an hour. Oh, I thought to myself, my problems are over, you can’t beat this.” Endrud laughed. “Directional drilling changed the whole world, but nobody knew it was going to be this prolific.” 

Yes, Endrud will tell it as it is.  And then he will tell you about the times that music just didn’t fit into it all. 

“When you’re playing music, the rest of the world just leaves for a bit. When I didn’t get that place to go, I’d start going nuts,” Endrud confessed. 

But whenever life and work seem overwhelming, Endrud goes back to that memory of the time he spent on the workover rig in the 1970s. 
?“I think to myself ‘if I could make it through that work, I can make it through anything,’” Endrud said. 

And then he goes back to the music, eyes closed, toes tapping behind a guitar, next to the men he’s been playing music with since he was the new kid in town, in the middle of a song, in the middle of the night, in the middle of his hometown…in the middle of another boom. 

Hometown stories from the oil field brought to you by: 
Watford City EDC and McKenzie County JDA

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