By: RayAnn Kilen
Dickinson Regional Director
North Dakota Small Business Development Center
AWTY (awe-tee) Maps specializes in oil field data and driving logistics. Go to any airport from North Dakota to Texas and you are likely to see an oil company employee getting off a plane holding an AWTY map book or checking an AWTY Compass installed on their smart phones.
AWTY Maps began with the idea of providing the safest and most accurate driving directions for oil field personnel in the North Dakota Bakken Formation. Originally the company sold map books, but now has expanded to providing navigation applications that use its custom offline road network that does not require a cell phone signal.
Beth Vreswyk moved to North Dakota from Texas with 25 years of experience in process management and close to 20 years in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) development with Duke Energy, Board Walk Pipeline and WBIP in Glendive, Montana.
Vreswyk, a single mother, and her daughter were close to living out of her car after she lost her job in 2008. “I truly was out of options, and finally found a job hauling water in the North Dakota Bakken,” Vreswyk stated. “I quickly realized that no one knew how to navigate (or dispatch) the area’s oil roads.” After meeting RayAnn Kilen (director of the Dickinson Small Business Development Center), Vreswyk began to germinate an idea. “RayAnn inspired me and pointed me in the direction needed to start AWTY Maps,” she said. Within a few short, yet turbulent, years Vreswyk developed a successful company with a dedicated team of employees, all under the age of 30. She said, “I am a very firm believer that you are only as good as the employees who ‘are’ your company. My intent was to build a creative culture, and that is exactly what we have at AWTY Maps. Without these employees, we wouldn’t be what we are today, a company on the threshold of explosive growth.”
Tell us about your company.
In 2009, I started AWTY Maps in my living room by accurately identifying oil field truck routes using GIS, with turn-by-turn directions, for ConocoPhillips. We now provide 43 separate operator map books as well as AWTY Compass, propriety Droid navigation app, and AWTY Ticket, an Oil/Water app that sends real-time hauling information from the field directly into each company’s accounting systems.
What do you think is the key to your success?
Definitely our employees. I have four employees in Dickinson and two in Bismarck. In Bismarck, Ben Allen is the backbone of map book updates, turning out accurate results in minimal time. Anders Larson works with our Garmin data, field data assimilation and custom large format maps. In our Dickinson office, Chris Beyett is responsible for our GIS data modeling, management and new growth processes. Alex Gates is our Financial Controller who also works with human resources, medical insurance and social media. Meghan Wilkinson, our Operations Director, is really the face of AWTY as she is the first person everyone talks to or sees when coming to the AWTY office. Brock Kralicek is our newest associate helping AWTY by identifying our internal IT growth needs and initiatives.
Each of our employees can wear three to four different hats—sometimes simultaneously! They come from different educational backgrounds and love to think outside the normal realm of what’s possible—and in our world, anything is possible.
We have to ask, what does AWTY mean?
When I started driving a semi in the oil fields, there was a certain dispatcher who loved to call me asking, “Are you there yet? You don’t know how to drive that truck!” I often tried to explain to him that giving good directions has nothing to do with the driver’s ability; therefore, naming the company “Are We There Yet” seemed appropriate.
Vreswyk’s advice: First and foremost, do a lot of praying and give Him the wheel—it’s amazing what the 11th hour can bring. Second, surround yourself with talented, loyal and trustworthy employees and treat them with dignity. Third, while some say customer loyalty is the key to success, I believe it’s your loyalty to your customers and willingness to go the extra mile that will keep them coming back. At the end of the day, they always somehow turn into family.
The North Dakota Small Business Development Center (SBDC) provides free and confidential counseling to small businesses, including pre-venture (idea stage, start ups and existing businesses. Advisors are located in offices across North Dakota; for more information, visit www.ndsbdc.org.
RayAnn Kilen is the Regional Director for the North Dakota Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in Dickinson. RayAnn is an experienced small business owner and holds a Masters in Management from the University of Mary and a Bachelor's of Science in Business Administration with concentrations in Marketing, Finance and Personnel Management from Dickinson State University. She can be reached at 701.483.2470 or email@example.com.