DUNCAN — For 100 years, Halliburton has fueled industry and development around the world.
For 42 of those, Mike Gray has been right there, helping move the company forward.
A Duncan native, Gray serves as director of manufacturing at the company’s manufacturing facility in his hometown.
Gray, along with his twin brother, Mark Gray, follows in the footsteps of his grandfather and father, working for one of the world’s largest energy companies.
“If you combine all of our years of service, the Grays have about 145 years with Halliburton,” Mike said. “We’re very proud of that.”
In 1919, Erle P. Halliburton founded his fledgling oil and gas company in Duncan. It would grow to employ 60,000 people representing 140 nationalities in more than 80 countries around the world.
“To think about that is quite mind boggling,” Gray said. “This is where it all started, because of the work ethic and innovation and commitment to excellence we have here.”
Today, the company employs about 1,300 people in Duncan.
“To say what Mr. Halliburton started here a century ago is significant — not only for the Gray family, but for thousands of people — is quite an understatement,” Gray said. “He was ahead of his time with technology and innovation, and he understood, you’re only as good as your people.”
On Friday, Gray and his team will celebrate the company’s anniversary with a lunch alongside Halliburton senior executives and state and local legislators. They’ve also invited retired employees with at least 30 years of service to take a tour of the facility, which has undergone nearly constant updates over the years.
“It’s really not the same shop floor it was when they retired,” Gray said. “We want to take the opportunity to show them how we’ve changed.”
One thing that hasn’t changed, according to Gray, is Halliburton’s commitment to investing in Duncan, especially when it comes to the next generation of leaders.
On Friday morning, Halliburton executives, along with Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, will visit Duncan High School to check on the renovation to the school’s Innovation Hub, a STEAM lab (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics), funded by the Halliburton Charitable Foundation and the Opal Lowry Trust.
According to Haylee Root, executive director of Duncan Public Schools Foundation, the lab is near completion, and the district will host a ribbon cutting this year when it’s complete.
Halliburton representatives also will cut a ceremonious ribbon Friday morning, opening the company-funded Heritage Trails Project, a 3-mile walking trail around Duncan Regional Hospital, the Simmons Center and the Chisholm Trails Heritage Center.
On Thursday evening, the Stephens County Historical Museum will host a dinner at the Simmons Center in honor of the company’s 100 years, which was sold out, as of Friday, according to museum Director Cova Williams.
Erle P. Halliburton III, grandson of the company’s founder, will speak to attendees on his experiences as a member of the Halliburton family.
According to the museum’s President, Kyle Collins, the junior Halliburton serves on the museum’s advisory board, which is only fitting, considering its impressive connection to the company.
“We have the largest Halliburton collection of memorabilia in the world,” Collins said.
From original paintings commissioned by the older Halliburton to thousands of photographs snapped by company photographers throughout the years, the museum is full of Halliburton history.
Founded in 1974, Collins said much of the museum’s collection comes from retired and former Halliburton employees who wanted to contribute personal items they’d collected over their careers. The museum’s “Halliburton Room” also includes company manuals, a cement pumper on wheels and original issues of the company’s magazine, “Cementer,” from the 1940s.
“Since the company was founded in Duncan,” Collins said, “it only makes sense that part of Duncan’s history revolves around Halliburton.”
According to Collins, in the 1950s, Halliburton employed one quarter of the Duncan community, and its presence helped build a thriving community full of engineers, researchers, administrators and managers.
“It brought a lot of talent, which boosted the average wage here,” Collins said. “Duncan wouldn’t be here without Halliburton.”
In the 1960s and ‘70s, the company gradually relocated various departments to other cities throughout the U.S. and then across the globe.
“The presence and influence (of Halliburton) is still felt by the community,” Collins said, “but it’s not as strong as in years past.”
Collins, like Gray, was a third-generation Halliburton employee during the eight years he worked in the finance department. His grandfather, Jack Nelson, came to Duncan in 1939 to work as a supervisor in the company’s machine shop.
“My mother and dad also worked for Halliburton, and that’s where they met,” Collins said. “I guess you could say my very existence comes from Halliburton.”
Collins is sure many of the audience members at Thursday’s event will be former Halliburton employees or know former or current local workers.
“I do hope the evening brings back good memories of times when Halliburton was of great influence in our city,” Collins said.