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Front Page » September 29, 2011 » Focus » Focus on Business
Published 1,083 days ago

Focus on Business


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By C.J. MCMANUS
Sun Advocate reporter

In 1972, Ellis Pierce acquired what would become Pierce Oil from Andy Anderson right here in Carbon County. Since that time, the family enterprise that is Pierce Oil and its sibling companies, have exploded into a global material supplier, serving more than 10 countries and a good portion of the United States. While the company's growth and innovation have made Pierce Oil and Golden West an industry leader, it is the Pierce family's dedication to the Castle Valley that has allowed them to achieve the rare status of a simultaneous global and local leader.

To look upon the offices at Pierce Oil, a person would be hard pressed to suspect that Ellis' daughter, and current Pierce Oil President Kris Mele, runs the accounting for three very large companies from behind one humble desk. However, that humility as well as a knack for attention to detail and quality control seem to be at the heart of what has made Pierce's companies so successful.

"You know they started out with local freeze conditioning and dust control at Golden West in 1991. It really started very small but the company flourished almost immediately," explained Mele, from Pierce Oil's headquarters in Price earlier this week. "The global sales, however, which have really made Golden grow, are due to the work of my father and brother Jason and their ability to make and maintain relationships."

According to Pierce, Golden West's global beginnings can be traced to Nevada where the company was servicing Barrick, Newmont and Kinross Gold.

"We were servicing the Round Mountain Mine in Nevada for dust control and some of the guys transferred from Round Mountain to the Maricunga Mine in Chile," explained Pierce. "They had a terrible dust problem there with their ore crusher and they didn't know what to do. They asked the guys that had transferred down there from Nevada what they should do. How can we solve this dust problem? These gentlemen provided my business card and that is how we got into Chile. And now we are very well established in most of the country."

Golden West continues to grow there as just last week the company arranged to continue testing their products at the largest open pit mine in the world, owned by Broken Hill Properties of Australia. They already service the largest underground copper mine in the world, which also happens to reside in Chile.

"My brother Jason who is the Global Marketing and Project Director for Golden West as well as two full time sales associates from Chile make up our sales workforce in that county alone," said Mele. "And this all comes from a small company started in Price, Utah, it's really pretty amazing."

Golden West products are essentially comprised of freeze conditioning and dust suppression material sold in bulk all over the world. The freeze conditioner, is used by companies to keep various materials from freezing.

"When the coal ships from our western states to the east in the winter it goes out in 100 ton cars, if you don't treat that coal, it will freeze in the car so when you get back east you have a 100 ton cube of ice. Now you can take the train south or jackhammer out the ice but nobody wants to do this. We have a side release agent that will let the product slip free," explained Pierce.

While the conditioner keeps the coal from freezing, it also has no measurable effect on the coal's British Thermal Unit and causes no additional emissions during burning.

The dust suppressant is used for both mining and transportation dust issues in any one of dozens of applications.

Golden West currently services Chile, Honduras, Mexico, West Africa, South America, Germany, China and Brazil. In the United States, their products are utilized in Alaska, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, Montana, Wyoming, California, New York and Texas.

While the amount of product supplied by Golden West is impressive, one of the company's most amazing numbers is small at 20, as in the corporation's number of full time employees.

"We are able to accomplish quite a lot of work with a small amount of people," said Mele. "Our employees are great at wearing many hats and that has worked out very well for us."

To demonstrate this, the company's local blend plant, which is currently being doubled in size, is ran by one individual. Terry Johnson is the blend plant's manager and sole employee. In fact locally, Pierce Oil and Golden West are largely ran by Mele, Pierce, Garry Lee, Johnson, Jose Lucero, James Kulow and Paul Richens.

Golden West's new addition is being erected in much the same manner in which Pierce has grown his company, quietly and efficiently. In the last week a crew took the 6,000 square foot addition from a concrete slab to a fully fabricated metal building ready for drywall.

"We feel the new addition will be mostly for storage but it could bring on a few more employees and that is something we are proud of, we like to be an active part of the Castle Valley's economic development," said Mele. "It is amazing, when I was a kid this place was my mom and dad, three employees total. Now Pierce Oil has grown into Golden West and Petroleum Maintenance Services and Swift Stop and Shop. It makes me very proud."

Pierce Oil Company and Golden West have deemed it in there best interest to have an outside carrier, Energy Enterprises, handle their freight responsibilities. Pierce's daughter Kim Martino heads up the trucking aspect at Energy bringing the family ties at Pierce Oil full circle.

"As far as trucking goes, our coordinator Kevin Cotner handles all of the local and long haul issues, without him we would be lost," said Mele.

With these comments, it is easy to see just how important and vital skilled employees are to the local corporation.

While Golden West does make a global impact with a very small number of people, make no mistake, the Pierce family makes a large contribution to Carbon County's economy. Even aside from the property and sales tax they pay into the area, the group's total local employment does reach over 40 individuals.

Pierce Oil now sells over 20 million gallons of product to mining, construction, agriculture and retail facilities. They supply every coal mine in Carbon, Emery and Sevier County, working with local mines since 1972 and showing their commitment to the Castle Valley.

"All of Pierce's companies are known for quality products and service and I believe that is what has allowed us to keep a good name locally while growing all around the world," concluded Mele. "At its heart, this will always be a local company."

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