Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Jimmy Austin Oilpatch Veteran Leaving Drilling Equipment Business

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Jimmy Austin Oilpatch Veteran Leaving Drilling Equipment Business

Article excerpt

Jimmy Austin of Seminole is of the era when you could borrow money on your name.

In 1950, way before the bank closings and savings and loan problems of the 1980s, he walked into a Shawnee bank and borrowed $35,000 to buy a rig and launch his drilling company.

"I walked off the street to a banker in Shawnee and I sat there and told him what I thought I could do and what I'd like to do," Austin recalled.

The banker mused, spit a mouthful of tobacco juice toward a wall and it dripped down into a huge spittoon in the corner.

"He said, `By golly, I believe you could do it. How much is it going to cost?' I had found a rig for $35,000 and told him about what it'd take. He told one of the girls to write out a demand note and that when we got an inventory on the rig they'd write a mortgage on it."

Today, it is a very different lending world and energy loans are one of the hardest to come by.

"It's rough out there right now," Austin said.

Two years ago, he sold 153 wells and now has only about 15, all in western Oklahoma. He sold all his rigs in 1981, getting out of the drilling business, and began buying rig components to build an equipment yard.

"I started buying this stuff at bankrupcty sales and now we've got about six or seven rigs," he said.

Now, he is getting out of the equipment business as well. There will be an auction directed by Superior Auctioneers & Marketing Inc., 11500 S. Meridian Ave., on Dec. 11 and 12 in Oklahoma City. Some of the rigs will go to 25,000 feet and 175,000 feet of drill pipe, some of it brand new, is among equipment that will be offered.

"I am retiring out of the equipment business, but I'm not retiring. I don't want to mess with it anymore," Austin said.

"We're farming and in the cattle business," he added, then laughed and said, "We couldn't lose money fast enough in the oil business, so we got into farming and cattle."

There is a tremendous similarity to the cattle business and oil business: The guiding factor to success is to buy low and sell high. But, as Austin admitted, it can often turn out vice versa.

But with his roots in the oil business, Austin's tenure in the energy industry was an apparent success.

He was raised about 17 miles south of Seminole on a farm, but his father built slush pits and dikes with teams of horses and mules when Seminole had its first oil boom in 1927.

"I was 12 years old and I drove one pair of those mules. It was hard. You had to flip that slip back. …

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