If ever there was a man who epitomizes the American ideal, it is Lew Eklund. Not only is he the proverbial self-made man, he is a man of conscience, integrity, and remarkable generosity. Lew Eklund is the embodiment of everything we believe to be the very best in our national character.
Lew’s life reads like a book by Horatio Alger, Jr. Born in 1932 in modest circumstances on a farm in Palermo, North Dakota, Lew learned early the values that have since set him apart from other men. As a child and a young man, he was the helpful, caring big brother in a family of five boys and two girls. At eighteen, he was on his own, working as a “jug hustler” on a seismic oil exploration crew. Then, through sheer industry, thrift, and determination, by the time Lew was 28, he had bought his first rig with wages still owed him by his boss. Lew named the company Eklund Drilling, and as it grew in size and stature, he never lost sight of what was most important to him as a member of the mining industry—the welfare of the industry itself.
To this end, starting with the world-renowned Gardner Denver 15W that he helped design in the mid-1960s, he went on to design the Cyclo Blower and various sampling devices that helped to revolutionize the mining industry by allowing mining companies to effectively sample microscopic gold. With this task behind him, Lew then decided to tackle the impact that exploratory drilling had on the environment. Lew’s concept and help with the design resulted in the famous MPD 1000 Track Rig built by Drill Systems, Inc. The same rig is today’s industry standard and is recognized by government regulatory agencies as the answer to environmental concerns on both sides of the debate.
Lew’s primary interest was to help the mining industry because, “The mining world has been good to me. I want to leave the woodpile a little bigger than I found it.” All of Lew’s designs and inventions have saved his colleagues time, labor, and money. For him, helping his colleagues has been its own reward. Humble, unassuming, and altruistic, Lew did not patent his many designs and inventions; he did not reap royalties. What is unique and remarkable about this very exemplary American is that he wanted to do it this way. He has wanted to share his knowledge, not hoard it. He has wanted others to benefit, not just himself. He has been true to his American values and to himself.
In 1988, Lew’s son, Lance, and daughter-in-law, Joanne, purchased Eklund Drilling Company from Lance’s parents. Today, the core values of honesty, integrity, pride in one’s work, and love of our industry, having been lived and taught by Lew, continue on to the next proud generation. Lew Eklund deserves recognition, not only for what he has given to the mining industry but for who he is—an honest American. We can be proud to call him one of our own.