Geoforce on Fast Track With GPS Services

One of the fastest growing technology companies in the DFW area – Geoforce – is headquartered in Coppell, and its top two executives live in town. The corporate headquarters is at 750 Canyon Drive, but its products and services are at work in 72 countries, monitoring the location and status of more than 100,000 pieces of equipment for more than 500 customers, mostly in the oil and gas business. Geoforce has more than 70 employees throughout the world, and its compounded annual growth rate is 60 percent per year.

The company moved its corporate offices in 2012 from Lewisville to Coppell “for its very convenient, central location in the Metroplex (to attract a diverse workforce), easy access to airports, and business friendly tax incentives,” according to the company.

Coppell resident James MacLean founded Geoforce in 2007 after spending his early career at Schlumberger, the world’s largest oilfield services company. Experiencing firsthand how chaotic and challenging it was to track and monitor equipment in the field, MacLean decided many problems could be alleviated with technology.

“I’m really passionate about the technology, said MacLean, who recruited his classmate from business school at Duke University, Vincent Hsieh, to help start Geoforce, which today is the leader for tracking oil and gas equipment. The company uses rugged GPS equipment and global satellite and cellular networks to transmit GPS and other data to a secure data center, which processes and enriches the data to feed applications that can be viewed on the web and on mobile devices. Its software products are designed, developed and managed at the Coppell office, and allow “track and trace” solutions for efficient asset location and retrieval, rental invoice auditing, service delivery verification, inspection compliance, equipment maintenance alerts and more.

Hsieh, chief operating officer and CFO of the company, said Geoforce acquired a company in Montana a few years ago to design rugged GPS devices that could survive in explosive environments like the oilfield. The units, which are made in Mexico and shipped from Coppell, can be placed on any piece of equipment to track its status round the world. If a special item is needed on a job, it can be quickly found and sent where it needs to be, reducing downtime, which costs $7 per second in the oil and gas business, according to Hsieh. Based on those numbers, one day of down time could cost $600,000.

“If I can get something there a half-day faster, that’s $300,000,” said Hsieh. “If I get there a quarter of a day faster, I just saved you $150,000.”

Geoforce designs its software, offers data services that allow monitoring of information on powered equipment, and generates reports that include how long equipment is in use and when it needs to be serviced. Customers rent each GPS device by the month and may select what data services they want for an additional charge.

As great as it might sound, the new technology has not been an easy sell to old-school oil and gas experts.

“People are not used to this yet,” said Hsieh. “We’ve basically had to be like evangelists – we had to sell them on the concept and the dream.”

But as baby boomers in the field retire and take their expertise with them, new recruits who are more tech savvy can use the technology to manage the chaos of the oilfield when they no longer have an “old guy” to ask for advice. The drop in oil prices makes efficiency in operations even more important, and that efficiency will pay off when prices go up, Geoforce contends.

“The downturns set you up for the upturns,” said MacLean.

Geoforce continually trains customers to increase their use of its software. Its customer service team in based in Coppell, and its employees travel all over the world to work with its customers, which include Schlumberger, Swire Oilfield Services, GE Oil & Gas, Petrobras, and others.

“The oilfield is very hands on,” MacLean said.

Geoforce also provides services to other industries, including construction and agriculture businesses. It is working on a pilot program with American Airlines to track engine stands for a particular type of plane. The company’s goal is to tap into many markets.

“There are millions of things to track,” said Hsieh.

MacLean said Coppell is an attractive place to work for the people in its corporate office, but he said the area could use more dining and “happy hour” options. He and Hsieh have each been active in the community, with MacLean coaching youth baseball and Hsieh coaching soccer and serving two years on the City’s economic development board.

“We’ve moved here to start a company, but we will probably stay here,” said Hsieh.

Geoforce has been recognized for several years for its growth, making the list on the Deloitte Fast 500 (North America’s fastest growing tech companies), Dallas 100 (fastest growing privately help companies in Dallas), and MTBC Fast tech List (fastest growing tech companies in Metroplex). More information is online at www.geoforce.com.