Fred and Barbara Holmes believe in hard work, keeping the family ties strong, serving God, serving others and giving back to their community. These core beliefs are the foundation of their lives and their work.
Fred, a third generation oilman, was raised on an oil lease four miles outside of Maricopa, California. Fred became part of the family business at the age of 13 working on a pulling crew after school or during summer breaks. He earned a two-year degree from Los Angeles Trade Technical College in Los Angeles and also attended Detroit Diesel School in Detroit Michigan. Soon after, he married his high school sweetheart, Barbara, who shared his drive and determination as well as his sense of humor. They raised two daughters, and are proud grandparents of four boys and two girls.
It was growing up on the oil lease that instilled a strong work ethic in Fred, a trait he still embodies. He worked in all facets of the family business as he grew up, but he made sure he got there early and left late; he worked harder than everyone else because he didn’t want anyone to think he got special privileges because he was the boss’ son. Over the years, Fred worked on well crews, became a mechanic, rig operator, drove a company truck, and became a rig supervisor, an officer and finally the owner. He purchased Western Well Service when his father retired. He went on to purchase his first oil lease in the early 1970’s. He acquired Rig 38 and drilled his first well with his own rig. Rig 38 was soon sought after and Fred was in the drilling business. In 1983, Western Drilling was incorporated.
Compassion for people and especially for their employees has been at the center of Fred and Barbara’s business practices. Their employees are like their extended family. The most difficult thing Fred remembers about growing up in the oil business was hiring good people during good times but then having to let good people go during bad times. Fred and Barbara’s desire to keep their employees working was the genesis of Holmes Western Oil Corporation. The boom and bust nature of the business led Fred to change his company strategy and get into the oil production business so that his employees could drill and service their own wells when times were lean in the oil patch. Making sure good employees kept their jobs was good for the employees, their families, and the community.
Fred and Barbara eventually sold Western Well Service and Western Drilling and currently own Holmes Western Oil Corporation which produces approximately 1,900 barrels of oil per day and employs 37 people.
Fred and Barbara feel blessed to be able to give back to the people in the community, and they firmly believe it is important to be good stewards of all God has given them. They give of their time, resources and themselves. They are people of integrity and well respected in the business community. Fred comes from a time and tradition in business where his word was as good as a written contract. He has been or currently is a member or board member of the Association of Energy Services Companies (AESC), California Independent Petroleum Association (CIPA), the American Association of Drilling Engineers (AADE), the Independent Oil Producers Agency (IOPA), West Kern Oil Museum, Maricopa High School, Taft Union High School Oil Technology Academy Steering Committee, Taft College Energy Technology Board and West Hills Church of the Nazarene. Fred’s company was named the California BLM oil operator of the year in 2009 and has received life time achievement awards from AESC, CIPA and IOPA. Barbara is also involved in the business and in addition recently has given her time and resources to orphanages in Africa.
Though Fred and Barbara have been very successful in the oil business, they live a simple life dedicated to their family. They regularly attend their grandchildren’s concerts, performances and sporting events, and they are very supportive of students in the community. Referred to by one student as the “patron saint of Taft High,” Fred readily gives his time and expertise to high school students in the Oil Technology Academy and can be found leading field trips through the oil patch, hosting barbecues for the academy or sponsoring dinners and speakers for the student chapter of AADE.
In 2013, Fred and Barbara established a scholarship program to assist with scholarships and mentoring to graduating Taft Union High School seniors who plan to attend four-year colleges or universities or two-year technical trade schools. Fred encourages students to work hard, stay focused, overcome hardships, serve others and give their best effort no matter what the task is at hand, traits that typify Fred and Barbara Holmes. Fred and Barbara have welcomed their foundation recipients into the extended Holmes family and feel they are making an impact not only in the students’ lives but also in the students’ communities in the future.