Clayton Williamson | Co-owner & COO | Petroleum Specialty Rental LLC, Morgan City

Clayton Williamson got his feet wet in the oil and gas business working summers offshore while in college. His father and godfather got him the job so he could gain some experience in the industry. “I got to spend a couple of hitches offshore, long enough to realize I didn’t want to work offshore,” Williamson jokes. “But I got to see some of our equipment being used on those operations.”

It was an invaluable learning experience for the young Williamson. He came to respect the workers, and to admire their ability to work as a team – despite coming from diverse backgrounds, ethnicities and age brackets. “Seeing how the crews were run, how the site supervisor treated his people … that impressed me,” he says. “From the roustabouts to the drillers, deckhands, engineers and cooks … they were all out there working together. It was good to see how such a large group of people on different teams all work could together to make the job happen.”

A native of Morgan City, Williamson didn’t originally envision himself working for Petroleum Specialty Rental, the oilfield equipment company his uncle founded in 1979. After graduating from high school, all he wanted to do was play college baseball. But after brief stints as a pitcher at LSU and Nicholls State University, he tore his rotator cuff and had to hang up his cleats. He ultimately graduated from the University of Louisiana–Lafayette with a degree in business.

Today, he does a little bit of everything in his role as COO. “I handle the business side of things, but I also handle most of our sales,” Williamson says. “I’m in Houston about every other week, because most of my customers are there.”

In recent years, he has become a vocal advocate for the oil and gas industry as chairman of the Professionals of LAGCOE and as a member of the American Association of Drilling Engineers. He’s also a Leadership Youngsville graduate.

Williamson is optimistic about the future of the industry, although he admits that the challenges of the last decade have tested its resilience. The oil bust in the mid-2010s was the biggest test, as it forced his company into bankruptcy. “It was a slow build back,” he says. “When the downturn happened, most of our business was focused on the Gulf of Mexico shelf, but companies were selling off their assets. Everything changed, so we had to change as well.”

Today, they’re a leaner, less vulnerable company. “It forced us to change the way we look at business and change the way we operate,” Williamson says. “We’re still providing the same equipment and quality, but we had to take a hard look at the pricing structure. Today, I feel better about where we are financially. We’re less susceptible to market downturns.”

Read more about the next generation driving Louisiana’s industrial future.