Chapter 1: Laying the Foundation: 1975-79

“Our timing was great really” says Durga Agrawal. “Around the time we started doing stress analysis, the economy was booming. Everybody was talking about petrochemicals. There was so much work going on…everybody was asking people in Houston to do their design work and contractors from Houston were doing work all over the world.” The mid-1970s was a great time to establish a business in Houston, Texas, especially a business connected to energy-related industries such as petrochemical. The Bayou City was known as the energy capital of the world, and the petrochemical industry was one of the driving forces behind a wave of prosperity that had washed over the entire region. Throughout its history, Houston had been a great place for bold entrepreneurs to take their chances that a new idea, a new service, or a new product might bring them success and prosperity. In this setting, Durga Agrawal parlayed his manufacturing experience and the advanced engineering skills he had acquired in six years of graduate school into a profitable engineering and consulting business. In 1975, he entered into a partnership to establish Stress Technology & Products (ST&P), a consulting firm that within the next three-years, evolved into a manufacturing and fabrication business. In 1978, however, the original partnership dissolved and a new company, Piping Technology & Products emerged with Durga Agrawal at the helm.

Agrawal assembled a core of talented people including Randy Bailey, Ben Tatum, and Art Usher, to help him launch PT&P after the reorganization of 1978. During the ensuing years he continued to bring new people into the organization, as the need for additional help became apparent. The rapid growth of Piping Technology during the first four years of the company’s history was due primarily to management’s success in product development, marketing, personnel recruitment, and in locating reasonably priced, used, manufacturing equipment. Agrawal and Randy Bailey pursued all kinds of pipe support business, booking every job possible, both large and small. While the increasing flow of business brought a corresponding increase in the company’s revenue, it also brought a wave of growing pains that challenged the resourcefulness of the entire staff. The rapid pace of business rarely left enough time to sit down and work out a growth strategy. But, Agrawal possessed an innate business sense and his enthusiasm for PT&P was contagious and inspired those who came on board with him to stick it out through the good times and the bad. What emerged from these rather chaotic beginnings, then, was a stubborn little company with a small but dedicated staff intent on making the business a success.