Other People’s Business: Texas Panhandle native’s invention wins World Oil Award; Clovis to get Pilot Flying J truckstop

A Texas company that was established by a Texas Panhandle native now has a prestigious piece of hardware in its trophy case — a 2017 World Oil Award.

 

Sand X, based in Granbury and led by Hartley Feeders founder Bruce Thompson, won in the “Best Health, Safety, Environmental/Sustainable Development-Onshore” category for a system Thompson invented in 2007.

The awards were handed out in Houston a month ago.

The Sand X and Super Loop help workers in the fracking and service industry separate oil from sand and other elements while it recycles flow back water. The idea has been hailed by World Oil magazine as “an environmentally friendly, safe, and cost-saving system for sand disposal in the completions process.”

Thompson, 75, said working 40 years in the agriculture industry provided the inspiration for something that has been a boon for drilling programs.

“In the feed yard and the elevator, we always handled material with augers,” he pointed out. “So, I got the idea to put an auger in there, and it worked.”

Since the initial model, Sand X has made three significant upgrades and has about 180 of the systems working in oilfield pads around the world. It also offers a model called The Beast that has a double auger for high-volume applications.

Thompson said his invention solves problems much differently than the industry’s traditional ways.

“We wound up doing with low pressure what the oilfield has done with high pressure for 100 years,” he said.

He said that, in just a decade, “We’ve saved the oilfield literally millions of dollars.”

Bruce’s son Jerry Don Thompson, 44, heads up the Sand X corporate office. He said the clean, damp sand that comes out of the process meets Texas Railroad Commission standards.

“It will be less than 1 percent total parts hydrocarbons, or TPH, and it will be less than 3,000 parts-per-million chloride,” he emphasized. “You’ve taken a hazardous material and made it a non-hazardous material.”

Bruce’s daughter JoHannah Willard, 51, works out of the Granbury office as marketing manager. She said Sand X is proud of the firm’s first World Oil Award and a product about which Jerry Don said it is hard to believe no one came up with earlier.

“A lot of people in the oilfield have said, ‘This is simple. It’s gravity. Why didn’t I think of that?’” JoHannah said.

Bruce and his wife Verena raised four children in Hartley and Dalhart. JoHannah and Jerry Don said the work ethic and character the Panhandle instilled helped their entire family through the years.

JoHannah described her father’s resume over the years as impressive, from running a body shop while attending then-West Texas State College in Canyon, to earning an industrial arts degree, to working in farming, a fertilizer business, a grain elevator, a feedlot, and water hauling before inventing the Sand X.

“I’ve always built stuff,” Bruce said. “I’d rather be doing something.”

That includes his daily 4 a.m. CrossFit routine, flying his plane and skiing with his grandkids at Christmas.

He said anyone could have had the idea for his invention — if they were just listening.

“The Lord, He’s the one for direction, guidance, counsel, opportunity, and all that stuff,” he said. “If you pay any attention at all, next thing you know, you’ll have a Sand X and a Super Loop.”

Clovis lands Flying J

Truckstop chain Pilot Flying J is scheduled to open its latest Pilot Travel Center in Clovis, N.M., this weekend at 4100 Mabry Drive. It will be the company’s 15th location in New Mexico.

“Both local residents and those traveling through the Curry County area and along Route 60 will be able to enjoy the convenience and amenities of our new center,” Pilot Flying J President Ken Parent said in a news release.

Those include 10 gasoline fueling stations and five diesel lanes with high-speed pumps, a fast casual food menu at PJ Fresh, coffee and cappuccino choices, Western Union services, and a variety of everyday products.

The company said the number of jobs each store adds depends on its size and its offerings, but it claimed the new Clovis property will add up to 55 new jobs and provide $1.8 million annually in state and local tax revenues.

By year’s end, Pilot Flying J will have opened about 15 stores across the nation, including the one in Clovis, and upgraded 45 more. Its goal is to open as many as 25 locations each year.

That will bring to 18 the number of Pilot and Flying J Travel Centers in the region — 11 in the Texas Panhandle and seven in eastern New Mexico. There are 70 of them across Texas.

A news release stated the combined network of more than 750 Pilot and Flying J Travel Centers across North America serves more than 1.3 million customers every day.

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