There are many smallish towns scattered across the country whose roots are interwoven with a particular company, but few of these businesses get their own historical marker. One in Lufkin, Texas, is of particular interest, however. It describes the Lufkin Foundry & Machine Company, which was launched in 1902 by J.H. Kurth, Frank Kavanaugh, Sr., Frank Kavanaugh, Jr., Eli Wiener, and Simon Henderson. “Later, under the leadership of W.C. Trout, the company ventured into the oil industry and manufactured the first enclosed geared pumping unit,” the sign reads. “In 1926, Trout patented a counterbalanced crank that improved the pumping unit and made a name for the company worldwide. In 1939 the company added industrial gears and truck trailers to its product lines.” And yes, there’s another marker about the pump a couple of miles down the road.
“The relationship between this town and Lufkin Industries is clearly deep and abiding,” says George Adda, director of worldwide sales and marketing for the company’s 850-employee Power Transmission Division, “but we’ve become an active player in the global marketplace since we were founded more than a century ago.”
According to its corporate description, Lufkin Industries is a vertically integrated company that designs, manufactures, sells, installs, and services high quality and high value-added oilfield equipment and power transmission products across the globe. This geographic footprint was bolstered in 1998 when the company purchased the COMELOR Gear Company in Fougerolles, France, which is now known as Lufkin-France. Investments transformed the plant into a premier manufacturer of high-speed, high-energy gearing with a new test facility and approximately 215 employees. The company also purchased the bearing manufacturer RMT — Rotating Machinery Technology — in 2009, which is now known as Lufkin-RMT. “That’s a great bolt-on business for us since we sell a lot of equipment to manufacturers of centrifugal compressors and gas and steam turbines,” Adda explains, “and we use the bearings in our gearboxes as well.”
In addition, Lufkin Power Transmission has dedicated gear repair centers located in Nisku, Alberta, Canada; Cullman, Alabama; Peru, Indiana; Bakersfield, California; Wellsville, New York; Lufkin, Texas; and Fougerolles, France, all capable of making repairs to gearboxes of any make — including sophisticated current generation wind turbine gearboxes. Lufkin Industries also has international company-staffed offices in Houston, Texas; Los Angeles, California; Strasbourg and Fougerolles, France; Singapore; Pisa, Italy; Worcester, England; and Melbourne, Australia.
Serving OEMs and end users alike, Lufkin’s Power Transmission Division designs and manufactures custom gears and gear units for a wide variety of markets, among them power generation, oil and gas, LNG, oil refining and petrochemicals, marine propulsion, sugar, cement, rubber, plastics, and the steel and aluminum industries. A certified ISO 9001 company, Lufkin’s engineers provide 3D design services, and comprehensive product testing is performed prior to shipping. These engineers are complemented by a large team of knowledgable and experienced field representatives who supportthe company’s customers, regardless of where they are located. Both work closely with manufacturing experts in the company’s different divisions, Adda explains.
“One of the things that really sets us apart is the fact that we are vertically integrated,” he says. “We have our own foundry, heavy weldment facility, and full-capability machine shop, for example, and our manufacturing and service facilities located around the world assure customers that our lead times are the most competitive in our industry. We can shift our manufacturing activities between France and Texas, depending on the geographic demand.”
Back in Texas, Lufkin Industries continues to play a central role in the surrounding community, decorating a red-painted oilfield pumping unit named Rudolph with lights for the town’s Christmas celebration each year, and even serving as the impetus for the Ellen Trout Zoo—begun with the gift of a hippopotamus to W.C. Trout by the president of Texaco many years ago. “We’re a very stable company, but a company on the move,” Adda says, “and I think that, in addition to our engineering, testing, and manufacturing expertise, that sense of history is one of the things our customers really like about us. We’ve been around for a long time, and they know we’re not going anywhere.”