Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Impact of One Person

“If it wasn’t for Erle P. Halliburton we’d be just like Comanche or Marlow with only 1,500 to 4,000 in population. All of the towns on the rail line were set up about 10 miles apart and each is about the same size, except for Duncan,” Jimmy Collins told me during my tour of Duncan, OK (population 22,505).

Halliburton was an area manager for the premier oil well cementing company, Perkins Cementing, in California. He tried to talk the company into opening operations in burgeoning TX and OK and quit when they refused. He landed in Duncan when the Empire Field was discovered there in 1920. Jimmy told me, “He pawned his wife’s wedding ring in 1921 to build the Halliburton measuring line.”

“One of the key breakthroughs was the development of the fracturing process in 1948, where you pump solvents with proppants into the formation to spread it out.”

Erle P. Halliburton was a consummate entrepreneur. He started an airline (later sold to a predecessor of American Airlines), a department store, a cement plant, a gold mine and even an aluminum luggage factory. His entrepreneurial spirit seemed to spread through Duncan and there are a number of incredible projects done in the town that I’ll talk about tomorrow.

Even though the corporate headquarters of Halliburton was moved to Houston in 1962, there are over 2,500 employees of the company in the town. I toured its 770,000 sf manufacturing center (1,250 employees) where virtually all of its big red oilfield service machines are manufactured and visited its 500 person worldwide R&D Center.

Greg Culp, director of manufacturing told me during the tour, “We have doubled our productivity in the past six years, since we started doing LEAN Manufacturing. Today, we can build a truck in 12 days, down from five weeks before. We’ve gone from 800 employees a year ago to 1,250 today.”

Duncan is becoming a magnet for oilfield suppliers and manufacturers as a result of the cluster started by a decision made by Erle P. Halliburton almost 90 years ago.

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