Kevin and Kalli Black | Nice Alumni Series
Creedence Energy Services | Classes of 2010/12
When the equipment finally arrived—three months late—Kevin Black checked oil prices on his phone. $42 a barrel. This wasn’t what he imagined the previous November when he quit his job to start Creedence Energy Services alongside two of his cousins.
At the time, oil was $82 a barrel and business was booming in the Bakken oil field of North Dakota. His organized wife Kalli forced him to write a business plan before taking the leap, which provided him enough confidence to ask his father-in-law for seed funding to purchase expensive equipment needed for his chemical start-up.
Now he faced a new business environment. Failure, however, wasn’t an option—he didn’t want to spend the rest of his life working for his father-in-law. He dug in and got to work.
Five short years later, Creedence Energy Services is a leading production chemical company in North Dakota and Texas with over 70 employees and an eye towards growth with recent investment from Tower Arch Capital.
Both Kevin and Kalli tried to run from entrepreneurship. Kalli studied retail merchandising at NDSU, graduating in 2010. She left for Minneapolis with plans to move to New York. The crazy hours in her corporate job forced her to reflect on what she actually wanted in life.
Remain adaptable, trust your gut, and take a holistic vision of your life to decide what you want.
Her father was a farmer and entrepreneur who started a crop insurance agency. He offered Kalli the chance to come home and try the business for a summer. Returning home to Westhope, North Dakota, she realized Artz Insurance needed to innovate to reach lifelong customers as well as younger, tech-savvy farmers. When her father passed away in 2018, Kalli was ready to take over the family business and establish roots for her own family.
Kevin also grew up in an entrepreneurial family, but had no idea what to do when he graduated in 2012. Right before graduation, an opportunity presented itself to work in oil and gas and soon he was working in rain, snow and sleet. He learned the industry from the ground up. That personal knowledge prepared him to later start his own company.
Don’t feel like you have to have it all figured out when you graduate. There is value in cutting your teeth in an industry or a job to discover what you like.
The Nice Center at NDSU created this series to demonstrate that entrepreneurs come from all walks of life. As we pursue our mission of making entrepreneurship for all we invite your support through mentorship. Share more about yourself at thenicecenter.org/mentor