Rural Missouri - January 2014 - (Page 28)

The company behind the meter G.T. Carr, executive vice president of The Durham Co., holds one of the many products the company makes. The Durham Co. keeps the power flowing with quality electrical products E by Jim McCarty very house has one, but few people give it much thought. Without it, the electricity doesn't flow. It's a meter base, the metal box that houses the connection between your electric co-op's lines and the ones inside your home. In the decades following World War II, electric cooperatives were booming, working long hours in an all-out effort to bring electricity to everyone who wanted it. With two wars causing shortages of poles and wires, it wasn't until the late 1950s that construction on new power lines could move forward. But electric co-ops needed more than poles and wires to finish the job. They also needed specialized equipment you couldn't just go to the corner hardware store and buy. Enter Roy Durham. For years, he worked as an engineer for the Binkley Manufacturing Co., which made meter sockets for utilities. He thought he could do the job better, so in 1959, he founded The Durham Co. based in Washington, Mo. He focused on the growing electric cooperative market and started making meter bases. Today, the company he founded continues to be a leader in supplying equipment to keep the power flowing. "In the early days, the focus was primarily with the electric co-ops, and the product line expanded with 28 pad-mount pedestals used for underthem," says G.T. Carr, executive vice ground lines. president of the company. "I think Mr. Durham primarily had G.T.'s father, George E. Carr, meter sockets," says Jon Chastain, bought the company in 1961 after national utility sales manager for the Roy Durham's death. He moved it to company. "He had a very limited Lebanon in 1963, where it continues offering. When G.T.'s father bought to operate 50 years later. Laclede Electhe company, they started working tric Cooperative serves the sprawling in the upper Midwest, from Missouri Lebanon factory and also buys a large north, trying to find places to sell amount of the equipment it produces. their products. They developed things "He had really good growth at the the cooperatives needed." time and continued to expand the With their focus on meeting business," G.T. says of his father, who the needs of utilities in rural areas, is still involved in major decisions at The Durham Co. found a niche the business. "We've with products the electric co-ops had 12 or 13 expancouldn't find elsewhere. One of sions since then." these was a meter base with Besides the expana disconnect switch. This let sions, the company opened Lebanon the homeowner kill power a second facility in Hous** inside the house without ton, Mo., and acquired two the need for a lengthy plants that supply parts. Houston trip by a co-op employee. Besides G.T., three other As electricity began Carrs worked for the familyto be viewed as an essential service, owned business. Jenny ran the Housfarmers found they could no longer ton operation for a time, while Jim afford to be without power for any founded and manages the connector length of time. Dairy operations, for line and Steve is the product manager example, were dependent on electric for the meter socket line. Doug Russell milkers for their larger herds. took over as Durham's president after The Durham Co. responded by George's semi-retirement. developing a transfer switch that let The Durham Co. is one of many them safely switch to a generator manufacturers in Missouri that quietly should an outage occur. The switch produce essential items most people prevented electricity from flowing take for granted. Their No. 1 products back across the cooperative's lines, are boxes that in some way will house creating a hazard for linemen. an electrical meter. They also produce "Part of our success is the customer cabinets for switching equipment, focus," says G.T. "Every utility has transfer switches for generators and WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP individual needs, and we have catered our products to meet these needs." He says the company today has more than 10,000 items in its extensive product line. An average of 1 million pounds of steel per month is used by the company's 450 employees, who G.T. credits for the company's continued success. With Laclede Electric so close to the company's headquarters in Lebanon, Durham's design engineers often take ideas to the co-op for testing. "They've been instrumental in developing and testing products," Jon says. "The same is true for other electric coops in Missouri. At times, we use them for a sounding board." The relationship goes both ways. While Laclede Electric counts on large industrial loads such as The Durham Co. to keep rates low for its residential consumers, it also needs lots of the company's products. "It certainly is a big advantage to have a company like that in our backyard," says Laclede Electric Manager Marc Roecker. "We have had the advantage of serving that load for 50 years and beyond. Also, it's been nice having a manufacturer nearby creating and innovating products used in the mainstream of our business, not to mention the jobs they provide. It's been a great relationship." You can learn more about The Durham Co. at or by calling 417-532-7121. http://WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - January 2014

Rural Missouri - January 2014
Healing on horses
Gut instinct
Out of the Way Eats
For the birds
Missouri Snapshots
Hearth and Home
The company behind the meter
Around Missouri

Rural Missouri - January 2014