The Year in Culture
Houstonian becomes a Chilean miners offshoot celebrity, gets Perry love
Drilling companies haven't been held in the highest esteem since a mistake in the Gulf of Mexico in April, but Houstonian Greg Hall of Drillers Supply International offered his company's expertise to help in the Chilean miners rescue effort, one of the most unforgettable stories of 2010. His company served as general contractor for the Plan B drill that eventually reached the miners.
Hall's described the project as the most difficult and rewarding one he ever planned.
CultureMap caught up with the earth science hero to discuss his recent nomination for the Dallas Morning News' "Person of the Year" award. While Governor Rick Perry won the honor, Hall expressed his signature modesty regarding the mention.
"We both went to (Texas) A&M," Hall says of Perry. "He called and tweeted me after the rescue. I met him at A&M, and he was kind enough to honor me at a football game. We took pictures with each others' families, which he posted on his website. Perry's a great guy and I was very happy that he won."
Hall has been operating his drilling company in Chile for 20 years.
"This Christmas was special for me because I knew I was able to have a part in reuniting those men with their families," he says. "It was neat on Christmas morning to think of them hugging their loved ones, and thinking of how I had a hand in getting them all out."
Since the rescue effort, Hall has become an unexpected celebrity, the subject of national media attention and widely sought for speaking engagements at schools and industry conventions.
"Everybody's been very respectful," he says. "I enjoy talking to the kids because I've got a good story of perseverance. It shows what people can accomplish when they work together.
"I've been offered speaking engagements for money, but I turn those down."
The new year brings more changes to Hall's life as he prepares for his ordination as a deacon in February, for which he has been studying for six-and-a-half years. As he assumes a wider role in the church and maintains the helm at Drillers Supply International, he still has the miners on his mind.
"We're not in touch at the moment, but some of my guys in Chile keep up with them," he says. Hall takes comfort knowing that Texas hospitality extends south of the equator, promising, "We're having several of them up to our plant in northern Chile for a barbecue in June or July."
Editor's note: This is the 16th in a series of articles CultureMap will be running this last week of 2010 on The Year in Culture. The stories in this series will focus on a key point or two, something that struck our reporting team about the year rather than rote Top 10 lists or bests of.
Other The Year In Culture stories: