Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 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
jmccarty@ruralmissouri.coop

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 www.durhamcompany.com
or by calling 417-532-7121.


http://www.durhamcompany.com http://WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP

Rural Missouri - January 2014

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

Rural Missouri - January 2014
Contents
Comments
Columns
Healing on horses
Gut instinct
Out of the Way Eats
Outdoors
For the birds
Missouri Snapshots
Hearth and Home
The company behind the meter
Around Missouri
Marketplace
Neighbors
Just4Kids
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - Intro
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - Rural Missouri - January 2014
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - Cover2
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - Contents
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - Comments
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - Columns
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 6
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 7
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - Healing on horses
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 9
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 10
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 11
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - Gut instinct
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 13
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - Out of the Way Eats
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 15
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - For the birds
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 17
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 18
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - Missouri Snapshots
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 20
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 21
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 22
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 23
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - Hearth and Home
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 25
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 26
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 27
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - The company behind the meter
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 29
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - Around Missouri
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 31
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 32
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 33
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - Marketplace
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 35
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - Neighbors
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 37
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - Just4Kids
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - Cover3
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - Cover4
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