Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Well-Drilling Business Kept in the Family -- since 1892

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Well-Drilling Business Kept in the Family -- since 1892

Article excerpt

Maybe one or both of Pat Partridge's sons will take over the family's water well-drilling business some day.

If they do, the 108-year-old Partridge Well and Drilling Co. of Jacksonville will enter a sixth generation of Partridge ownership.

This past summer, Lance, 11, and Merritt, 14, were content with doing menial tasks around the office to earn allowance money until school started again.

"They are interested enough in the business to make some extra money," Partridge said. "The older I get, the more I realize how special that would be."

For now, Partridge spends his time keeping the Westside company in step with demand for irrigation wells brought about by sustained residential development in the area.

Business for the Partridge family continues to steadily increase as homeowners and commercial property owners are constantly in need of water for irrigation purposes.

The business has changed over the years, mainly in the way the equipment is transported and the location of its offices.

For instance, in the early days of the company, rigs were transported by horse-drawn carriages and operated by steam engines. Now, drilling rigs move from site to site by way of trucks.

Until about 15 years ago, the business was run from the Partridges' home. Now it occupies office space at 4744 Collins Road.

The process of drilling, though, has remained virtually the same. Workers use rigs that dig until the aquifer is reached 310 feet below the surface. In some places, the water table is closer to the surface.

On a recent job, the company had a rig set up at a house on the Westside where the homeowner planned to use the well for irrigation purposes. Most of the company's business is generated by residential uses.

In most cases it takes about a day to drill a well, said Dick Hyland, a driller who has worked for the company for 24 years. In the early days of the company, it took three weeks to drill a well because the equipment had to be assembled and disassembled at each site.

"In Florida, you can drill just about anywhere and find water; it just depends on how deep," Hyland said.

"Right here we are 310 feet," he said, referring to a drill site at a home on the Westside. …

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