Sami Hayek isn't that great with dates, but there are a few he couldn't help committing to memory. Take July 23, 2003. That's the day, just three weeks after graduating from Spruce Grove Composite High School, that Hayek shipped off to the B.C. wilderness to start working on the Ensign 87 drilling rig. He had no experience, and the learning curve was steep. “I was really freaked out,” the 27-year-old entrepreneur remembers. “I was 120 pounds. Some of the bags we had to lift weighed 120 pounds. Everyone made a bet on me that I wouldn't last more than a week.”
But Hayek persevered. He had to. His father passed away when Hayek was just three years old, and their family wasn't wealthy. Growing up without any kind of financial safety net, Hayek always knew it was up to him to make something of himself. That's why he worked himself to the point of exhaustion for the next two years on the rig, frequently taking extra shifts during his week off. At one point, he worked 10 weeks in a row.
During the off-season he'd stay with his sister in Slave Lake and wait tables at her restaurant for a little extra money. By the time Hayek was 20 years old, he'd saved up nearly $80,000 and was actively looking for a business to call his own.
That business appeared in the form of what's now called Pitbull Energy Services. One day, while waiting tables, Hayek met a man who made good money operating a vacuum truck. Hayek had seen these cleanup vehicles around the rigs in B.C., but didn't know how much they charged for their work. It turned out to be $1,600 per day. “I'm like, ‘Wow. I should really look into this,' ” Hayek says.
That brings us to Important Date Number Two. On October 11, 2005, Hayek signed the documents officially sinking his life savings into financing a steamer truck (the vacuum truck's little brother. “It's five speeds, like a minivan,” Hayek says) that he didn't even know how to drive. Still, he was excited. “I'll never forget that day,” he says. “I dated a girl for eight years and didn't remember her birthday, just to show you how important these dates are.”
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