Welcome back. I could begin this week with Bartlesville’s treasured Price Tower but that story has been written by others many times before so I thought I’d take you back in time before this magnificent structure was built. The story of Harold C. “Hal “Price Sr. and the Price Tower actually started back in 1921 when Harold was the manager of the Bartlesville Zinc Company and lost his job when the plant closed.
With 2500 in borrowed funds, this entrepreneur opened the Electra Welding Company. With a small shop, Hal was living in a boarding house on Second Street when he got his first job repairing oil tanks. By 1926 he had the largest welding company of its type in the Midwest but he wasn’t done growing. In 1928 he secured the contract for the construction of his first major oil pipeline, 160 miles of 8” pipe down in Texas. The new pipeline needed cathodic protection to make it last and by 1936 Hal had added a coating division to his company called Somastic.Wherever he had pipeline projects going on, Somastic plants would be there to coat the pipe.
In the 1940s Somastic expanded its operations to 36 states. At the same time Price Company engineers were developing new ways to lay, weld and coat pipe with every job. The 1960s brought even more work to the Price Company which by now employed hundreds of workers. The coating division’s first international job was in a neutral zone between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Just as the project was being completed the region turned into a battle ground during the Six Day War. Despite this experience the company continued to expand overseas and during my research I found the names of several people who contributed to its success who I hope you remember.
A new partnership was created in 1963 between the family of companies and the United Bredero companies based in the Netherlands. The Bredero companies had been founded during the industrial revolution to build housing for workers and had grown into an important construction company. Together the two companies created the Bredero Price plant to focus on pipeline coating and the plant became a major operation in Europe.
Now Hal Price had business all over Australia and the Far East as well as in France and Germany and who was the first man he sent to Europe to head up this important operation? No it wasn’t some out of towner but Bartlesville’s own class of 1947 graduate Bill Creel. Bill traveled the world with the Bredero Price Company eventually becoming a senior manager.
I’m sure you’ve all heard of another person who played a big role in Harold Price’s story, Jim Curd, Sr. Jim had been doing all the advertising and promtion for the Price Company since 1950. As the result of this relationship Jim and his family moved to Bartlesville from Denver and he opened his own business. Over time the Curd family became very involved in the community and opened two landmark restaurants, Dink’s and Sterling’s Grille.
Yes friends the legacy of the Price Company is not only in a building. Next week, Bill Creel’s role as a community leader after retirement.
Till next time I’ll see ya down the road…….