Trenchers Ease Pipe Installation, Cleanup

Staff | September 28, 2010

There is heavy activity these days in the oil and gas fields of Western Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle, and the crews of Galmor's, Inc. seem to be everywhere performing a variety of services for energy companies.

Based in Elk City, Oklahoma, Galmor's constructs well sites, performs facility work, builds tank batteries, constructs gathering lines and pipelines, and does site restoration when an oil or gas well is completed and the drill rig moves on to another location.

"Basically Galmor's is in the business of satisfying customers," says Steve Galmor, who with his father, Bob, are co-owners of the company. "Anything a customer asks for, Galmor's will bend over backwards to do, including locating hard-to-find parts no one else can find to repairing old, outdated pump equipment. There aren't many oil or gas field jobs we won't take."

Over the 22 years Galmor's has been in business in Elk City, this attitude has earned the company the reputation for doing every job right, no matter how difficult or what unexpected challenges arise. It isn't surprising that Galmor's has served most of its clients for many years.

"They know that we will stick with a job until it's done right," says Galmor.

Roots of the company go back to 1963 when Bob Galmor and partner Red Davis established an oil field supply business in Shamrock, Texas. Combining the names of the two partners, the business was named Damor Pump and Supply, which continues to be operated by Bob Galmor today.

In 1985, Steve Galmor moved to Elk City, rented a building, and established a new oil field service company. At first work was scarce, and for the first six months Galmor and four employees slept in the company's offices. As oil and gas companies decided to give the new company work, the business began building a firm foundation for growth. Today the company has about 90 employees and has more than 200 vehicles and pieces of equipment.

Says Galmor: "It can be hard to imagine that we've come from where we were in 1985 to where we are today. Much of the credit for our success goes to our loyal employees. We are a family, and not many of our people leave us to go somewhere else."

While Galmor's remains based in a small, rural town, its operations employ 21st century business practices and technologies. In 2000, Galmor's diversified.

"No more than 20 percent of our revenues come from any one segment," Galmor says. "We don't want all our eggs in a single basket."

Basic markets are:

  • Site preparation and restoration
  • Facilities
  • Pump repairs and parts sales
  • Pipeline
  • Agriculture

Galmor's projects require many types of specialized equipment. Construction of large-diameter underground pipelines employ big excavators as primary equipment to dig the deep, wide excavations necessary. In addition, sidebooms move and position heavy lengths of pipe and move excavated dirt.

Galmor's operates excavators of different sizes, but for smaller-diameter gathering lines, trenchers are more productive — while excavators dig a short segment of trench, then are repositioned to extend the excavation, trenchers can dig continuous lengths of trench without stopping.

Galmor's has rented trenchers of several brands and models, and currently is using a new Ditch Witch HT220, a heavy-duty track-mounted model to dig trenches 18 inches wide at 6-foot depths with a digging chain equipped with conical bits. Spoil is discharged by a conveyor system that can deposit dirt on either the left or right side of the trench.

Galmor's son, Levy, has been the primary operator of the machine, and he says it averages 15 feet to 16 feet of trench per minute of trench 6 feet deep, 18 inches wide through a variety of soil conditions including black clay, shale, gypsum, and sand. He adds the conical bits work well in most conditions except sand.

"Also, by using a trencher, spoil distribution is very consistent, which creates an almost-effortless cleanup," adds Levy Galmor.

Operations Manager Russell Freas adds the trencher is good for installing pipe to 12 inches in diameter. Gathering lines going from the well site typically require pipe from 2 inches to 8 inches in diameter and usually are 2,000 feet to 5,000 feet in length. All of Galmor's pipeline construction meets federal DOT (Department of Transportation) standards.

The HT220 is powered by a 215-horsepower, liquid-cooled diesel engine and hydrostatic digging chain drive. The digging boom can be equipped with a single or double chain (width and depth capabilities depend on boom and chain setup and soil conditions). Patented bit blocks permit customizing digging tooth pattern to fit conditions. Ground drive is controlled by a dual-path hydrostatic drive system with planetary transmission. "Cruise" control automatically adjusts ground speed to soil conditions during trenching.

Levy says the cab is the quietest of any trencher the company has operated.

Operations manager Freas says Galmor's standardizes on brands of equipment to minimize the quantities of parts that must be inventoried. Service is essential and a key factor in making purchasing decisions.

"To waste time with one of those automated answering systems or being bounced from person to person before being connected with someone who can help is not acceptable," he continued. "When we have a problem we need to reach the right person right away — we can't afford downtime."

Reflecting on Galmor's history, Steve Galmor observes that many of the people who helped get the company started are gone, retired or passed on.

"Before too long," he says, "all the early contacts will be gone, and we will depend on the newer relationships developed by our younger managers and employees. The circle gets bigger. I can't really explain it any other way ... that's just how it works."