Fort Smith's Pruitt Tool & Supply Co. Going Global

by Marty Cook  on Monday, Jul. 14, 2014 12:00 am  

Grant, left, and his father, Alan Pruitt, right, pose with a sculpture of A.B. “Buddy” Pruitt, the founder of Pruitt Tool & Supply Co. | (Photo by Ryan Miller)

Alan Pruitt still hangs around Pruitt Tool & Supply Co., walking through the hallways and shops of the business he helped build.

His thoughts drift back, like they always do, to his father, Buddy, who founded the company in 1958 in Fort Smith. Buddy, who died in 1982, didn’t live to see Pruitt Tool blossom as it has in recent years, to his son’s regret.

“I’d give anything if my dad was here to see it because he would be tickled to death,” Pruitt said. “My dad was not thinking about us being a big company. All he was worried about was making a living for his family. Whether it was big, little or in between, as long as he could make a living he was pretty comfortable.

“Every time I walk around there I think, ‘God, I wish he could see this.’”

From modest beginnings, Pruitt Tool now has nine offices across the United States and has business interests overseas in countries such as Russia and Turkey. The company rents its patented equipment, the Pruitt rotating control device, to oil rigs drilling for oil and gas.

Alan Pruitt, who retired as CEO in 2012, joined his father’s business in 1976 after resisting it for several years. When Buddy’s health began to fail, he told his son that he was going to have to either sell the family business or turn it over to Alan.

Alan came home. Back then, being CEO of a tool supply company in the oil and gas business was not an easy gig.

“It’s really the best thing that ever happened to me,” Pruitt said. “I went through some good times; I went through some bad times. I was on call 24 hours, seven days a week for years. I knew where every phone booth was between Russellville and McAlester, Oklahoma.”

If Alan Pruitt was an initially reluctant oilman, his son, Grant, was almost anything but. Grant, who replaced his father as CEO in 2012, used to tag along with Alan to the shop and fondly recalls how his dad always smelled of oil and dirt.

When Grant Pruitt graduated from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville in 2002, he joined the family business.

“Whenever Grant first came on board, he was dirty every day just like I was,” Alan Pruitt said. “I think he started at $7.50 an hour. He started at the bottom and worked his way up. You have to be able to do everything and he can.”

Worldwide Expansion

 

 

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