Zero Spill – Zero Worry

As Katch Kan celebrates its 25th anniversary, Founder, President and CEO Quinn Holtby takes us back to the beginning.

By Krystle Holdegaard

Twenty five years ago founder, president and CEO of Katch Kan, Quinn Holtby, envisioned developing fool proof equipment to proactively prioritize personal safety, advocate for environmental stewardship and increase operational savings in the oil and gas industry.

Since its inception, Katch Kan has worked with drilling contractors and oil and gas companies, to ensure access to tangible, efficient, safe and proactive solutions to prevent the loss of drilling fluids and the contamination of drilling sites.

Their main slogan, “We Facilitate Protecting Lives and Mother Earth” is at the root of all solutions and services currently offered.

Quinn has always been a visionary, adapting already-existing equipment to make it better, or creating entirely new tools and equipment. “If my neighbour saw my garage open, he would always run over and say ‘what are you inventing today?’ Quinn recalls. “I made a snow mower… I had adapted an actual lawn mower to blow snow because I couldn’t afford a snow blower at the time.”

Holtby started his oil and gas career in 1978, and realized there were safety concerns after taking part in the initiation of a new hand on a drilling rig, sometimes called the hosing ceremony. A hosing ceremony is when a new hand gets soaked from head to toe in drilling fluid to see if he or she has what it takes to stick around and do the job. According to Quinn, it was quite normal for roughnecks and leasehands to get covered in drilling fluid almost every 20 minutes.

For Quinn, the routine shower of drilling fluid while he was working was a blessing compared to getting covered in dust from his previous employment in the grain industry. But in his innovative ways, Quinn would use plastic bags, gunny sacks, or whatever could be found around the rig to control that discharge when making connections, keeping himself dry as possible.

Katch Kan’s Zero Spill System™

When Quinn became a driller, he started researching certain materials that would be durable enough to solve this issue, as he saw how it impacted work satisfaction and loss of drilling fluid. Additionally, because of this spill problem, he saw a considerable amount of accidents and began to study why accidents happen. He talked with other drillers and found that 98 per cent of accidents were slips, strains, sprains or crush injuries.  

Before creating Katch Kan, Quinn was already instilling safety fundamentals to ensure his crew was trained and performed safely on the job. “They were trained well and had what I call the safety spot on the drill floor,” says Quinn. “If anything happened they knew where to stand, instead of running in different directions and running into things.”

Some years later during the recession of 1982-1983, Quinn decided to leave the industry.  However, he continuously worked on his designs with the goal of returning to inspire people and demonstrate why these tools he was designing should be required on drilling rigs.

One thing that sets Katch Kan apart from competitors is the materials used to make their products — engineered polymers. Through their engineering, certification and design, static electricity is eliminated, meaning there are no sparks or corrosions and will work in the harsh temperatures of -50°C to 50°C.

Katch Kan’s entire product lineup was designed to make the jobs on the drill floor easier, better and safer than Quinn’s experience. It all began with the Kelly Kan. By controlling, containing and redirecting drilling fluid, it not only keeps the crew dry and eliminates slipping hazards, but it also eliminates the waste of drilling fluid, saving one oil company “$585,000 of drilling fluid in just seven months.”

Quinn’s “safety spot” on the drill floor inspired the colour coded Katch Mats, which are anti-slip, anti-fatigue, eliminate trips and contain and channel drilling fluid that can be redirected to the Katch Kan. “A real root problem for back injuries is from fatigue from standing on steel plates and the fact that the drilling rig is actually vibrating. Over time this will literally cause your spine to collapse,” Quinn explains. “When I designed the anti-slip, anti-fatigue, ergonomic matting with these safe zones, caution zones and danger zones, it was about working on the drill floor and knowing where the arc of the tongs were.”

Katch Kan’s colour-coded Katch Mat™ system.

Jumping forward, Katch Kan’s solutions are changing the way  drillers do business. Drilling has never been as safe or as environmentally friendly as it is today. “What some of these operations that I’ve seen around the world are doing to the environment is shocking,” Quinn describes. “One of the challenging things is zero discharge versus zero spill. Zero discharge really means that we could spill on three acres, and then clean it up sometime later. Zero spill means that we do zero influence on the environment, and we are able to do that without the huge cost of cleanup.”

After countless awards and recognition for innovation and being an industry leader, Katch Kan is not slowing down. Quinn is always trying to create solutions for his customers’ problems. He is able to quickly create a prototype with his engineering team and a state-of-the-art 3D printer. All products brought to market have all been on a drilling rig for at least a year. “We want to make sure we’re putting out safe products that are guaranteed, that don’t create hazards or incidents,” says Quinn. “We see how things react, see if we can break it… basically kick the crap out of it.”

Of course, Katch Kan wouldn’t be what it is today without the strong team Quinn has created and their long-term customers who have been there along the way. “The greatest success in our organization is having people on my team that really understand what we do and help our customers make an informed decision,” gushes Quinn.

For more information about Katch Kan and the solutions they provide, visit