Faces of the Boom: Woman creates new career in Oil Patch

Isabella Dangelo fills her pickup with washer fluid Feb. 2 in Williston, N.D., before heading out to drilling rigs. Amy Dalrymple/Forum News Service

WILLISTON, N.D. – Isabella Dangelo traded in her business suits and high heels for Carhartt and steel-toed boots.

And she’s never been happier.

The former Minneapolis woman sold her house and moved to North Dakota a little more than  two years ago to look for oil boom opportunities. She had just gone through a divorce and was worried about paying her mortgage in the midst of a bad economy.

“I was watching what was happening to the economy and I was really scared,” Dangelo said.

Dangelo spent 10 years selling temporary staffing contracts in the Twin Cities. She used those sales skills to get her start in North Dakota selling drill bits.

“I can sell anything. It doesn’t matter what it is,” Dangelo said.

After developing connections in the Williston area, Dangelo decided to go into business on her own. She owns and operates Isabella’s Oilfield Services, a cleaning service that specializes in cleaning the living quarters at drilling rig locations.

“There’s a lot of opportunity out here if people want to take advantage of it,” said Ed Sanders, one of the drilling consultants Dangelo has cleaned for.

Dangelo travels around to different rigs to sell the service to new customers. She has contracts with more than 20 rigs and wants to keep expanding.

In two years in North Dakota, Dangelo was homeless about a dozen times and bounced around to different rooms or cabins she rented. On occassion, the company men would let her stay at the rig location if there was an empty trailer.

“These guys are my family out here. They’re my best friends,” Dangelo said.

Isabella Dangelo, left, visits with drilling consultant Eric Olsen Feb. 2 near Arnegard, N.D. Amy Dalrymple/Forum News Service

She recently moved into a new camper, complete with a fireplace, and lives in an RV park, finally able to feel like she has some stability.

“When everything is always temporary, you never get your bearings,” Dangelo said.

While Dangelo loves sales, her real passion is a conservative Internet radio she launched not long after she moved to North Dakota.

“It started out with me talking to basically me,” Dangelo said. “I was ecstatic if one or two people were listening.”

Now she has a team that helps produce the show, which is live four nights a week at 7 p.m. The archived shows at www.belladangelo.com get an average of 5,000 listeners from around the world, she said.

The first 30 minutes is often “raunchy humor from the rigs,” but then she and other hosts get into hard-hitting topics, Dangelo said. Talking politics with people working in the Oil Patch helped Dangelo build connections.

“My business and my radio show go hand in hand,” she said.

Dangelo has big goals. She wants to continue expanding her cleaning business and she’d like her radio show to be nationally syndicated.

“We’re just around the corner from everything becoming really, really exciting,” Dangelo said.

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