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Old 03-25-2011, 09:18 PM   #1
Vintage Kin
Fort Worth , Texas
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 8,014
Images: 1
Fulltimer Work: Gate Guard

Down on the frontier known as South Texas (not Houston which is SE) roughly bounded by Victoria to the east, San Antonio to the north and Uvalde to the west, South Texas down to the Rio Grande Valley is also a big producer of natural gas and oil. (The King Ranch had installed Exxon's largest capital project to date in the 1930's with a huge gas compression plant).

Today it is the Eagle Ford Shale "play" that is underway. All sorts of jobs, but one that is ubiquitous is the gate guard. Do a search elsewhere for more information, but basically one subcontracts to a company and is onsite at a site for several weeks or months as the case may be.

Until lately one did this as a 1099 employee but the state and feds are finally cracking down on this abuse. Things have yet to come clear on this issue, but until now one parked one's rig near the lease gate entrance on a prepared pad and is provided electricity via generator, potable water and scheduled sewer dump (all these things are brought in from outside as for the rig personnel). In return one logs in all the vehicles coming and going on a 24-hour basis. The pay has generally ranged from $125-$150/day (not quite minimum wage is one contention, and employee mis-classification is another) so a 60-day contract grosses $7,500 (from which, again, until now one is responsible for all taxes, etc as an "independent").

Here's another RV forum thread.

I bring this up as I've read of other folks working at an Amazon distribution center for the same tiddlywinks money, and worked a lot harder frankly. I'd much rather do this (I've worked in warehouses, distribution centers). I might be dusty at the end of the day (and my rig), but not beat from humping orders on a concrete floor under the direction of a 10th grade a-kiss "manager".

I've been running some hotshot loads and as time permits try to visit with the gate guards. At night the entrances are well-lit and might be that granny waves me on once she has the truck name & number. During the day I might have a chance to hear about Idaho winters . . and earning some money to stay out longer each year on the road to see the grandkids both at spring break and in summer.

Oil & gas companies are particular about security as are property owners, so there is a background check (among other things). Site security -- SAFETY -- is another big one. There's no fooling around. The gate guard is generally some distance from the actual site. I've only been to a dozen so far, and the closest has been 1/2-mile. The farthest is 8-miles (thar's some big ol' ranchos down south, folks . . I've heard of 19-mile drives from the site entrance). All the roads are caliche (cheap).

Wal-Mart might be more than 70-miles away, and big cities even farther, so a plan might include some larger food storage than a conventional RV refrigerator/freezer. Satellite TV would obviously be worthwhile. Don't know if deliveries to the site are allowed (FedEx, etc; it would be important to me!). Tedium is the worst part. That people are friendly here is beyond dispute. This is Texas before the post-1980 Yankee invasion for that aspect. Everyone is tired (in a manner of speaking) as this is a 24-hour business. Few are lousy about feeling that way is my point.

My wife has an acquaintance we made several years ago as we fulltimed (they own a small ranch on the coast) but neither is willing to retire. They got us interested in disaster insurance adjusting, and are now on location at the same gas site 50-miles from their home since Jan 1 of this year. (I also think their arrangement is directly with the production company, so more $$ per day).

The Eagle Ford ought to be hot for 2-4 years. Some say up to ten. I might throw the dice on four. I bring all this up as there will be some who'll trade some time to build cash with no expenses to speak of. If nothing else one could pay for a number of improvements to the traveling rig and build traveling money. It won't last forever.

Here is one couples experience. (A number of posts, and good pics).

Here's another.

And however much air-conditioning you have it won't be enough. Search and read extensively of others experience. There are those who do well and those who don't at this. The first few weeks would be the worst. Try to start before the heat (humidity) really sets in. This area is classified -- from Corpus Christi westwards -- as a humid desert. The climate has more water east of here (or San Antonio) but it is all very hot from May into October (the relation of heat and humidity indexed. North Texas is hotter in actual temps which is worse, IMO).

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Old 08-06-2011, 03:12 PM   #2
Vintage Kin
Fort Worth , Texas
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 8,014
Images: 1
Looks like the Labor Department is doing their job:

1099 Classification Abuse

" . . The DOL investigaters travelled to rural areas and discovered that the gate guards received a minimum wage rate that fell far below the federal minimum wage, $7.25 an hour"

A standard offer on these jobs is $125/day. $100 for some. Which, over 30-days $3,750 at 125/day. No rent, and no utility costs, so sounds good. But with 1099 status, SS/FICA is 15.3% of gross, so $3,150 (and less any income tax applying). $105/day, or, $4.38 hour.

At $7.25/hr, and 6.2% applying = $175/day, or $5,250 per 30 days. And SS/FICA at standard approx 5.65% (2011), so $4882, or, $6.75 (all figures rough).

To drill a well the company expects to spend $5-million on aveage in 30-days. Gate guards are dirt cheap.

Some days are busy according to rig set-up or take-down. Others are busy according to day of the week, or worker schedule. But one is expected to be on duty 24/7 (and arranging in advance relief personnel). Supplies may arrive at 0330 any night.

A DPS test for security guard is needed, and most of these contractors for whom one would "work" also charge full expense for fingerprints, background checks, etc.

There are those who do this all winter every winter to fund full-timing. One "might" net $15 to $20k over 4-6 months (prior to expenses and other taxes). Couples are preferred.

Being east of IH-37 is decently-watered farmland with plenty of roads and towns. West of IH-37 one is into dry ranchland with far fewer people and services. And dustier.

More research is recommended.

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