Transportation & Stringing: Pipeliners Can’t Leave Home Without It

By Jeff Share, Editor | January 2010 Vol. 237 No. 1
Buyer's Guide

There are so many essential aspects to any pipeline construction project. One of the most critical, yet overlooked, responsibilities involves moving the thousands of tons of finished pipe from the steel mills to the construction site. This process includes arranging the mode of transportation – truck, rail, barge or ship – and securing, leasing and maintaining pipe yards and rail sidings.

Then there’s the actual work of loading and offloading, racking, storing, hauling and finally, stringing the pipe together on the project right-of-way – usually in some of the most difficult-to-reach places - before the welders move in to link the joints together before they are lowered into the ditch and backfilled, never expecting to be seen again.

Dun Transportation & Stringing, Inc. of Sherman, TX, is celebrating its 100th year of being a key conduit in the pipeline construction process. Dun is one of the few major transportation and stringing companies still active in the United States on a turnkey basis. The work is often taken for granted, but major transmission pipelines could not be built without companies such as Dun.

Dun employs nearly 200 employees in five states and operates without geographical limitations in the U.S. Adding to the company’s unique status in the industry is the fact that Dun has remained within the family for these 100 years and is likely to stay that way well into the future.

It is quite legacy they will inherit. The company has delivered more than 75,000 miles of pipeline since 1910, more than any competitor. Dun says it employs a fulltime safety director and all of its foremen are trained in first-aid and CPR plus AEDs are located on all job sites along with trained personnel.

A little history: the Dunn Company was first founded by Allen Dunn, who began a freight service hauling livestock and buffalo hides from Comanche County to Galveston by oxcart, bringing dry freight back on the return haul. The start of the oil boom in Texas in 1900 created an immediate need for teams of oxen and mules to carry supplies to the oil fields. Hence, a new business - what came to be known as Dunn Bros., Inc., was started in Ranger, TX in 1910 by Allen along with two of his sons, Robert and Carl. Even today, the company is still commonly referred to as “Dunn Bros.”

According to the company history, Robert and Carl took over the business when Allen retired in 1917. They continued to use teams and wagons to service the oil fields until 1920 when they began using trucks to string pipe along the right-of-way. Pole trailers were developed as the Dunns foresaw a need for larger equipment and a speedier way of getting pipe to and down the right-of-way.

The company grew along with the industry, particularly during the 1930-31 boom when they worked on the Missouri Valley Gas Co. project, a predecessor of Northern Natural Gas Co. The Dunns were beginning to branch out around the country as pipelines tried to meet increasing demand for petroleum products. They and their crews received early training in learning to haul pipe through the most extreme conditions imaginable – ice, swamps, deserts, mountains, trails and roads that didn’t really exist, using whatever means of transportation was available – barge, truck, railcar, or even bringing mules out retirement when trucks were incapable of handling the terrain.