Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012
|Photo by Robin May|
Bonnie Maillet is up every morning at 5 a.m. at her computer. Especially on weekends. She has to be. Her company, Lafayette-based Boysenblue, is doing brisk business with Saudi oil giant Aramco, to which Boysenblue exports drilling fluids. But Saudi Arabia is eight hours ahead of us, and the Muslim weekend is Thursday and Friday.
Boysenblue is currently in its second export deal with Aramco, a relationship that has blossomed into a personal relationship between Maillet and Aramco owner Jaber al-Fahhad. “He calls me his American mother,” Maillet says proudly. “He’s only 41, and we were instant friends when I met him in ’06. He is just one of the most dynamic young businessmen that I’ve ever met.”
Boysenblue’s relationship with Aramco and, more importantly, Maillet’s relationship with al-Fahhad, are documented in her engaging new book, Quest of the Derrickman’s Daughter ($17.95, Acadian House Publishing), which recounts Maillet’s nomadic childhood following land wells with her family as well as her founding of Boysenblue in 1979. It’s safe to say oil runs through Bonnie Maillet’s veins. But the focus of the book is the deft deal-making it took to land the contracts with Aramco.
“We were just instant friends,” she says of al-Fahhad. “I’m sure you’ve met people who you just know you’re going to know forever. And over the years our friendship has just grown even more. International trade is the very fiber of who Boysenblue is. I started Boysenblue in ’79; my first international sale was in ’81. So, it’s always been an interest.”
Married to a retired educator and a mother to a pair of mud engineers, as she calls them, Maillet is clearly excited as she talks about her company, her new book and the oil industry in general in the dining room at (where else?) the Petroleum Club.
A large chunk of Boysenblue’s success, she adds, has been the originality of the company’s drilling products — products for which she currently owns two patents with more in the works. “When I started Boysenblue, the products we were selling were unique and novel and well-received,” she says, emphasizing that exports have long been a strength of American entrepreneurs and are the central focus of her company. “One of the three reasons why our forefathers came to America was to export back to England; that’s why we landed where we landed — because it was a straight shot [across the Atlantic Ocean],” she says. “We are the sum total of our ancestors who came before. It’s dormant, but if we dig down I think we’re going to find it. A lot of people want to do well and have good ideas.”
As for the name of her company, it has a unique origin, although Maillet adds with a laugh that if she had a dollar every time she’s been asked to spell Boysenblue, her nest egg would be a lot bigger.
“My middle name is Blue — not my maiden name, but my middle name,” she explains. “When I decided to start this company and was struggling with the name, I was coming back from a crew change one morning in Morgan City and there was this song playing on the radio and it was Helen Reddy and she was singing ‘Me and You Against the World.’
“And it struck me when I was listening to the words of the song because my sons were very young at that time, and we were a close family, all four of us were, and when I heard that song, ‘Me and You Against the World,’ I just said, ‘My boys — my husband and my two sons — boys and Blue against the world. And I wrote it on my hand and I played with the spelling and played with it and played with it.”
The company name may need to be spelled out for prospective customers, but it perfectly sums up Maillet’s ability to fold together her two loves — family and business. Probably in that order.
“It’s been a good life,” she says wistfully. “It is a good life.”