Posted 4/05/16 (Tue)
By Kevin Killough
Scott and Ann Frost are proof that some good things are remaining behind as the oil boom wanes and the dust settles.
The Frosts founded S&A Safety in March 2012, which they operate out of their home in Ray.
The business provides a range of safety training and inspections from OSHA classes to site compliance checks to defensive driving courses.
The experts in safety were recently awarded, for the third time, the award for outstanding safety instructor from the North Dakota Safety Council.
Ann proudly showed off the plaque NDSC gave her, as their three parrotlets -- a tiny breed of parrot -- chirped and flapped around their living room.
They received the award at a banquet in Bismarck that was attended by state troopers and safety professionals from around the state. She has a picture of herself standing between a few state troopers at the event.
“I was a state trooper sandwich,” she said.
Scott, who is originally from Utah, is a former NASA employee who worked on rocket motors that were used for space missions and nuclear weapons. He said he loved the work but hated the politics.
Altogether, he has 30 years of experience working in various safety capacities, including hazmat, underground mining, and explosives and ordinance disposal.
Ann is originally from Louisiana but moved to Tennessee. She had spent most of 2011 unemployed. Her benefits were about to run dry, and she still hadn’t found a job .
She has over 25 years of experience as a firefighter, EMT, and various positions in the medical industry.
She saw the news on all the jobs in North Dakota and did her research. She learned all about what an obstacle finding any housing could be.
She posted an ad on the Internet looking for possible options so she could move up to the Bakken.
At the time, Scott was looking at North Dakota as an opportunity to utilize all his experience in safety training.
“I just never found a conduit to make a living at it,” Scott said.
Looking into his own housing options, he came across Ann’s ad and responded. The two hit it off.
He arrived shortly before her, and eventually they were living in a 19-foot long 1976 Prowler camper Scott bought for $900 from someone who was in a rush to leave.
He and Ann parked it at an abandoned dairy farm, where several oil workers lived in a trailer. They all shared one bathroom.
The camper was parked inside a dilapidated tractor barn that had a wall missing.
“It kept the wind off,” Scott recalled.
“It was the exact same camper my parents had when I was 16,” Ann said.
Eventually they moved into a large house full of rented rooms, which was near the Wal-Mart in Williston. They shared the house with 17 other people.
After moving to Ray to live in a basement in another house full of oil workers, they eventually moved into their current home on Score Street just north of the water tower.
And they’re much happier.
“I love Ray,” Ann said.
Identifying a need
When he first got to North Dakota, Scott started working as a Mining and Safety Health Administration compliance officer for a company that decided to save money on safety costs by eliminating his position.
Scott said they lost 85 percent of their business when MSHA did a site check and found several violations, including not having an MSHA officer. That company has since closed their doors.
“They’re just no longer here,” he said.
He later worked for Safe Com out of Williston. The owner fell ill and passed away a couple weeks later. The company had multiple clients who were now without a training provider.
Scott said many clients looked for other providers, only to find their services inadequate or too expensive -- sometimes three times as much.
The experience showed him there was a high demand for safety training in the area, and so he and Ann started the business in March 2012.
“We saw it was feasible to make a living, so we decided to start our own business,” Scott said.
Not only was there a need for the services, Scott thought he could provide a lot more quality than many were providing to their clients.
“There’s a lot of people doing safety training, but it’s not good safety training,” Scott said.
They also believed they could do the training for less. They keep their overhead costs low and pass on the savings to their clients.
“That’s part of the reason we don’t have a big, fancy building,” Scott said.
Instead, they go to the clients’ facilities and provide the training there, which the Frosts say clients prefer anyways.
They’re flexible with their schedules, even providing training on the weekends, and they work anywhere. This past weekend, they were doing training in Plentywood, Mont.
“You need us there, we’re there,” Scott said.
“We go all over,” Ann added.
When they first started in the early spring of 2012, the Bakken was red hot.
“It was boomin’ hard,” Scott said.
Things are a lot slower now for the Frosts, but they aren’t entirely upset about that.
“There’s time to breathe . . . I’d like to be more comfortable, but we’re fine,” Scott said.
In the meantime, Ann is branching out into natural pain relief.
The safety regulations companies have to adhere to are quite strict, sometimes to the point of seeming unreasonable.
If a person takes any kind of doctor-approved prescription medications that cause any level of intoxication, he or she can’t work. They can’t go near the worksite.
“On site is on site,” Scott said.
Ann has some back problems herself, and not wanting to have her head clouded with prescription medications, she turned to cannabidiol, which is a hemp extract.
Not to be confused with marijuana, the product contains no psychoactive properties.
Cannabidiol, Ann said, can provide pain relief without any intoxication, and it doesn’t provide false positives for marijuana use on drug tests.
She sells the products online and the business, she said, is helping to bring in a bit more income while things are slow.
“I’m not going to make a million dollars, but we can pay the bills,” she said.
They continue to run S&A safety, and this past December the couple got married.
After weathering the Bakken now for over four years, they’ve settled in for the long-term.