Rutledge Well Drilling and Pump Service, Inc. is a family-owned business started in 1979 by army veteran Mike Rutledge. The same dedication to country he exhibited in 1973 when he voluntarily joined the military during the Vietnam War has carried over to his company. Based in Atlanta, Indiana, Mike and his sons serve customers in communities located in Howard and Hamilton counties.
“Michael L. Rutledge graduated from Hamilton Heights High School in 1971,” says Beth Rutledge, Mike’s wife. “As most high school graduates, the options were to go to work, mainly in a factory, or attend college. Mike chose to attend Vincennes University and study aviation. That career did not take off the ground. Uncertain of his future, Mike decided to join the United States Army in 1973. The Vietnam War was raging overseas and was also causing rage here in the United States. He believed it was his patriotic duty to defend his country, its people and the freedom of the American way.”
Mike completed his basic training at Fort Knox, Kentucky, and was then sent to Texas for advance training in air artillery. For the duration of his service, he was stationed in Wackernheim, Germany, where he was a crewman on an air defense tank. Since there were only four positions on the tank, he was both a driver and a gunner. He was honorably discharged in September of 1978 after achieving the rank of Specialist 4th Class.
“It was then time for Mike to re-enter the workforce,” Beth says. “For a short time, he worked side by side with his dad, Leon ‘Shorty’ Rutledge, in the family plumbing business until his dad became too ill to continue working. Mike obtained a job at Central Supply, a plumbing wholesale house in Indianapolis. It was here that he was introduced to the well-drilling business. At the time we were newly married and starting a business with nothing in our pockets. We became creative and were able to buy an old sputter hammer rig. This was a slow and tedious process of pounding the steel pipe into the ground at a snail’s pace. However, it served us well.”
Later, with a goal to become more efficient and less labor intensive, Mike was able to find an old rotary well-drilling rig in southern Indiana. After many years of good, and sometimes bad experiences with that rig, he was able to finally secure a carousel rig where the lifting of heavy rods is minimal.
Mike has always involved his sons in the family business, even from a young age. Often, the boys would go with their dad on job sites. Today, the oldest, Nathan Rutledge, is a licensed well driller and pump installer, and has worked next to Mike for about 15 years. He is well-prepared to take over the business upon Mike’s retirement.
Brock Rutledge has his own career but is an experienced backhoe operator as well as a licensed pump installer. Levi Rutledge also works with his father, jumping in when needed, and is learning the business side of the operation. Mike’s grandson Braden proudly announced that when he grows up, he wants to drill wells in the family business.
“The future is bright for the Rutledges to continue serving hometown communities,” Beth says. “Mike has great clients. They know he is honest, affordable and will do a good job. Whether it is drilling a new well, installing or repairing a pump or tank, setting up a softener or iron filter, or just installing a new hydrant, everyone is treated with integrity and professionalism. Next time you are driving through the country and you see an American flag flying 38’ in the air, it is likely on the top of the Rutledge Well Drilling and Pump Service’s drilling rig. Be assured the Rutledges are proud to live in a free country that the head of the family served as a proud soldier and now a proud American veteran.”