Breaker19 is an Uber-like truck booking platform founded by two Houstonians. Photo via Getty Images

In a world where ”the customer is always right," two Houston founders have followed that rule right to their next venture.

Breaker19 — a groundbreaking mobile application built in late 2023 to be an efficient oilfield trucking and hotshot marketplace — was co-founded by Rodney Giles and Tyler Cherry. The native Houstonians also co-founded BidOut, a leading Oil & Gas procurement platform in 2021.

“About a year ago, one of our BidOut clients, a large operator, came to us and basically said that the biggest problem they have in the oil field is ordering trucks,” remembers Giles. “From there, they asked would we be willing to build something similar to Uber, but for oilfield logistics and trucking? So, we built Breaker19.”

After their customer presented a challenge, Giles and Cherry got to work. They envisioned the technical architecture almost immediately and assembled a team of software engineers to build an in-house application in less than a year.

“We launched Breaker19 in November 2023, and my goodness, it has taken off like crazy,” says Giles. “It is growing incredibly fast. We’re doing hundreds of truckloads a day now, all throughout West Texas, South Texas, North Dakota, really all over the U.S.”

Now, armed with such large publicly traded companies as British Petroleum, Breakout19 has a network of more than 1,500 trucks similar to transportation companies like Uber, where drivers make themselves available to be dispatched according to their health, safety and environmental requirements.

Breaker19 is doing so well, in fact, that it’s sped past Giles and Cherry’s original collaboration, BidOut.

“Breaker 19's probably, you know, growing ten times of where BidOut even was in its early days,” says Giles. “So, we'll always explore options that make sense for our shareholders. Fortunately, my co-founder and I have previous companies that we built and sold and have experience in scaling and have experiences in multiple departments, whether it be finance or sales or marketing or operations.

“So, currently, we do operate BidOut and Breaker19 separately, but they are, you know, through common operating structures. And, you know, we're able to maintain the scale and maintain the growth right now. And right now, the company is doing great financially and has cash flow positives. So, for us, you know, our goal is just to continue. I feel like we've kind of solved an archaic problem and did it in a really simple way, and it's working out pretty well.”

And it all started with a simple question from a customer — "Hey, can you guys come up with something like this?"

“It all came together just by listening to our customer’s needs,” says Giles. “And we always try to go into our clients and help them with a lot of what they do. But we always want to know about what their other pain points are. You know, there's still people, you know, that are operating with very archaic processes, very, you know, manual back-office processes. And our job is to speed them up with software. And so Breaker19 was able to do that.”

Practically speaking, Breaker19 is more than a software solution. It also closes the gap between qualified drivers and end clients by vetting participants for the platform in an efficient and pragmatic fashion.

“We have a very rigorous vetting process for the drivers,” Giles explains. “I mean, that's really what makes the oil and gas trucking industry so unique. Insurance requirements have to be significantly higher than most carriers. They have to go through very well-funded safety trainings where they are familiar with the oil field. And then number three, these drivers have to have personal protective equipment. They have to have flame-retardant clothing, they have to have slo-mo boots and they have to have hard hats.”

Procedure is important, but professionalism is equally important to Breaker19.

“You know, we do not allow the carrier to show up on a customer's locations in shorts and flip-flops or Crocs and, you know, be protected,” says Giles. “And so, for what we're dealing with is very mission critical, but also very, you know, very high-risk.

“For example, we are checking insurance statuses four times a day. If a carrier were to cancel their insurance, we're aware of it immediately because we want to make sure that we always have active insurance in place. So, we have a process that these carriers go through. Again, we've got over 1,500 of them now that are well-vetted and well-qualified.”

As Breaker19 continues to scale, Giles and Cherry hope their burgeoning app becomes the go-to ordering platform for the entire oil and gas industry for all of their trucking, hot shot and transportation needs.

“We're bringing on some significant, large enterprise clients right now that make up 10% of the U.S. market share for each customer,” says Giles “So I think when we start to compound those, I think we easily see the trajectory there as really being something that's taking off pretty fast. So, I think at the end of the day, we just hope to keep delivering a great experience for our clients, make their ordering process easy.”

With both BidOut and Breaker19 doing great financially, proud Klein Oak High School alums Giles and Cherry have purchased a steer to support Texas youth and agricultural causes. Additionally, moving forward, the duo pledges to give away a full steer each month to a customer of their Breaker19 platform.

"We are passionate about giving back to our community and nurturing the next generation of leaders in Texas," says Cherry. "Having personally experienced the transformative impact of FFA, we saw this initiative as a meaningful way to both support local agriculture and provide our clients with a taste of authentic Texas beef.”

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Innovative coastline project on Bolivar Peninsula receives federal funding

flood mitigation

The Galveston’s Coastal Barrier Project recently received federal funding to the tune of $500,000 to support construction on its flood mitigation plans for the area previously devastated by Hurricane Ike in 2008.

Known as Ike Dike, the proposed project includes implementing the Galveston Bay Storm Surge Barrier System, including eight Gulf and Bay defense projects. The Bolivar Roads Gate System, a two-mile-long closure structure situated between Galveston Island and Bolivar Peninsula, is included in the plans and would protect against storm surge volumes entering the bay.

The funding support comes from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and will go toward the preconstruction engineering and design phase of Ecosystem Restoration feature G-28, the first segment of the Bolivar Peninsula and West Bay Gulf Intracoastal Waterway Shoreline and Island Protection.

Coastal Barrier Project - Galveston Projects

The project also includes protection of critical fish and wildlife habitat against coastal storms and erosion.

“The Coastal Texas Project is one of the largest projects in the history of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,” says Col. Rhett A. Blackmon, USACE Galveston District commander, in a statement. “This project is important to the nation for many reasons. Not only will it reduce risk to the vulnerable populations along the Texas coast, but it will also protect vital ecosystems and economically critical infrastructure vital to the U.S. supply chain and the many global industries located here.”

Hurricane Ike resulted in over $30 billion in storm-related damages to the Texas coast, reports the Coastal Barrier Project, and created a debris line 15 feet tall and 40 miles long in Chambers County. The estimated economic disruption due to Hurricane Ike exceeded $150 billion, FEMA reported.

The project is estimated to take two years to complete after construction starts and will cost between $4 billion and $6 billion, reports Texas A&M University at Galveston.

Houston organization selects research on future foods in space health to receive $1M in funding

research and development

What would we eat if we were forced to decamp to another planet? The most immediate challenges faced by the food industry and astronauts exploring outside Earth are being addressed by The Translational Research Institute for Space Health (TRISH) at Baylor College of Medicine’s Center for Space Medicine’s newest project.

Earlier this month, TRISH announced the initial selection for its Space Health Ingress Program (SHIP) solicitation. Working with California Institute of Technology and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Baylor-based program chose “Future Foods for Space: Mobilizing the Future Foods Community to Accelerate Advances in Space Health,” led by Dr. Denneal Jamison-McClung at the University of California, Davis.

“TRISH is bringing in new ideas and investigators to propel space health research,” says Catherine Domingo, TRISH operations lead and research administration associate at Baylor College of Medicine, in the release. “We have long believed that new researchers with fresh perspectives drive innovation and advance human space exploration and SHIP builds on TRISH’s existing efforts to recruit and support new investigators in the space health research field, potentially yielding and high-impact ideas to protect space explorers.”

The goal of the project is to develop sustainable food products and ingredients that could fuel future space travelers on long-term voyages, or even habitation beyond our home planet.

Jamison-McClung and her team’s goal is to enact food-related space health research and inspire the community thereof by mobilizing academic and food-industry researchers who have not previously engaged with the realm of space exploration. Besides growing and developing food products, the project will also address production, storage, and delivery of the nutrition created by the team.

To that end, Jamison-McClung and her recruits will receive $1 million over the course of two years. The goal of the SHIP solicitation is to work with first-time NASA investigators, bringing new minds to the forefront of the space health research world.

“As we look to enable safer space exploration and habitation for humans, it is clear that food and nutrition are foundational,” says Dr. Asha S. Collins, chair of the SHIP advisory board, in a press release. “We’re excited to see how accelerating innovation in food science for space health could also result in food-related innovations for people on Earth in remote areas and food deserts.”

Clean energy nonprofit CEO to step down, search for replacement to begin

moving on

Greentown Labs, which is co-located in the Boston and Houston areas, has announced its current CEO is stepping down after less than a year in the position.

The nonprofit's CEO and President Kevin Knobloch announced that he will be stepping down at the end of July 2024. Knobloch assumed his role last September, previously serving as chief of staff of the United States Department of Energy in President Barack Obama’s second term.

“It has been an honor to lead this incredible team and organization, and a true privilege to get to know many of our brilliant startup founders," Knobloch says in the news release. “Greentown is a proven leader in supporting early-stage climatetech companies and I can’t wait to see all that it will accomplish in the coming years.”

The news of Knobloch's departure comes just over a month after the organization announced that it was eliminating 30 percent of its staff, which affected 12 roles in Boston and six in Houston.

According the Greentown, its board of directors is expected to launch a national search for its next CEO.

“On behalf of the entire Board of Directors, I want to thank Kevin for his efforts to strengthen the foundation of Greentown Labs and for charting the next chapter for the organization through a strategic refresh process,” says Dawn James, Greentown Labs Board Chair, in the release. “His thoughtful leadership will leave a lasting impact on the team and community for years to come.”

Knobloch reportedly shifted Greentown's sponsorship relationships with oil companies, sparking "friction within the organization," according to the Houston Chronicle, which also reported that Knobloch said he intends to return to his clean energy consulting firm.

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This article originally ran on EnergyCapital.