Indiana Small Business Profile: Rick Ortman

Date: June 02, 2022

Ortman Drilling Celebrates 100 years in business!

In 1922, J.B. Ortman was building a new house. He needed to drill a well, but he couldn’t find anyone to drill it for him.

So, he did what any entrepreneur would do – he drilled it himself and then started a small business providing the same services for other people in Indiana.


JB Ortman the founder of Ortman Drilling on Cable Rig

100 years later, Ortman Drilling now has 63 machines working 18-20 hours a day with 30 – 40 employees and covers the entire state of Indiana. They have completed more than 12,000 wells with a depth of more than 2 million feet. That’s almost 400 miles!


Ned Ortman picking up the new Failing drilling rig for the company in 1963.

Ortman Drilling is a fourth-generation family small business. In addition to drilling wells, Ortman Drilling also operates telephone dispatched service crews for all types of pump work, water system and water treatment installations and services. Ortman Drilling has been an NFIB member for 41 years and is a Leadership Council member here in Indiana.

Third generation owner Rick Ortman grew up in the business but thought he wanted to be an engineer. However, once he went to school, Rick realized he didn’t want to be stuck in the office, so he moved home and learned to drill. He also missed his small town of Kokomo, where everyone knows everyone and small businesses thrive.

Like many small businesses across Indiana, Ortman Drilling is facing a lot of challenges since the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

Ortman not only has trouble finding qualified workers, but he also faces issues when it comes to the supply chain.  In some cases, he faces up to a 12-18 month wait for some parts! For PVC parts alone, inflation is now costing him four times what it did just a few years ago. His crews use a lot of diesel fuel traveling around to job sites, which has also added to his bottom line which means that like many other small business owners, Ortman has had to raise prices on his customers, who he says have been understanding, even though they face a two to four week wait for his small business services.


This is a photo of Ned and Dick Ortman (Dick is on the phone) in the original office, which was an addition to the original home built on the property in 1922.


Ortman, who is 77 years young, will one day pass along his small business to the 4th generation of Ortmans: his son and a long-term employee: Russell McDorman. Rick says he is “semi-retired” – he enjoys racing cars – although like any small business owner and entrepreneur – can he ever “really” retire?

Related Content: Small Business News | Indiana

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