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GEFCO could go up for sale

By Robert Barron
NID — George E. Failing Co., which began in Enid in 1931, may be for sale, company officials say.

Aaron Harmon, GEFCO president, said the parent company told Enid staff before Christmas it would like to consolidate holdings and is exploring options with GEFCO and several other operations. Those options include possibly selling the company.

“That also includes STECO, which is a sister company,” Harmon said.

Harmon said other options may present themselves; however, it is very early in the process and the company ultimately may decide to sell.

“They were just courteous enough to let us know they are exploring options. There is nothing definite,” he said.

Harmon had no comment on how it would affect the 150 employees if a sale occurs. He said ideally the company would like to find a buyer who comes in and keeps the company running like it has been, possibly even invest more resources and grow the company.

“But that is not a guarantee,” he said.

The company, which manufactures both water well and oil and gas drilling rigs, was founded by George E. Failing and has been sold several times during its history. GEFCO celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2006.

In 1906, Failing moved his family to Tulsa, where he worked for the Tulsa World. In 1909, shortly after his marriage, he went to work in the oil business, building shops around the oil patch and a larger store in Tulsa. By 1911, Failing had seen the potential of the oil fields and moved his family to Cleveland, Okla., for a job with Oil Well Supply Co.

He went to work in the Garber oil fields in 1917, and in 1918 he opened Garber Tool and Supply Co., a small machine shop where he serviced cable tool and rotary rigs. He later acquired the sole account for Sullivan Machinery Co, which manufactured a portable drilling rig that was powered by steam. Failing later developed the first portable oil rig and was able to drill more wells in a day than conventional rigs.

After near-business failure in 1929, he produced an innovative rig that could be set up faster and drill quicker than contemporary rigs.

Failing had moved to Enid in 1934, and his business was rolling. He added a truck-mounted rig built for coring and shallow drilling, and 20 percent of that production went international. A year later, five different models were prepared with depth capacities from 250 to 500 feet.

GEFCO also is one of the top water well drilling rig companies in the world, according to company information, and still manufactures oil rigs for shallow drilling. The current location has 47 acres available and 7.5 acres under roof. It also does contract jobs for other companies.

In 2006, Don Batson, vice president of manufacturing, said GEFCO was No. 1 in the industry, making more than $40 million annually.

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