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

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

In 1935 the federal Motor Carrier Act was enacted and the name of the company changed to C. Hobson Dunn, he being another Dunn brother. Certificate of Convenience and Necessity MC 19416 was issued; the company still operates under this certificate.

The Dunns moved to Irving, TX in 1940 where they set up a maintenance and repair shop, not far from the company offices in the Magnolia Building in downtown Dallas. During the war, they worked on the historic Big Inch and Little Inch Emergency Pipelines. As a matter of fact, many of the most significant pipelines to be built in the U.S. have the Dunn imprimatur on them, including the first and second Kern River Pipeline projects, the Alliance Pipeline and the recently completed Rockies Express(REX) natural gas pipeline.

Ernest and Ellis Dunn were two younger brothers who bought the interests of the other brothers in 1945. In 1950, they incorporated and changed the name of the company to Dunn Bros., Inc. with Ernest elected president. A major accomplishment came in 1960 and was an industry innovation – development of the first telescopic self-steering pole trailer for the delivery of long pipe strings safely in traffic and on temporary access roads to the right-of-way. They also designed and built the first pipe saddles to handle difference size steel pipe.

Ellis died of cancer at age 66 in February 1973. Ernest continued to run the company until his death in August 1992 at the age of 91. In 1998, Gene Johnson bought the company from Ernest’s widow, Jewell, who was also Gene’s aunt on his mother’s side.

Johnson, now president of Dun (the name of the company was changed after he bought the company), began working summers for the company while a student at Dallas Baptist University where he majored in business management. A native of Fort Worth, Johnson often worked on his grandfather’s farm, so outdoor labor was already in his blood when he was approached by the Dunns to work on a Lone Star Gas pipeline job in summer 1967 in Corsicana, TX.

The next summer, the Dunns hired Johnson to work a job in Kentucky. When he returned to school, he worked part time in the Dunn office. In an interview with P&GJ, the affable executive discussed what made the business appealing to him.

“It was interesting and something different. At the time, the pipeline business was really going strong, even in the winter of 1968 El Paso was building a pipeline from Van Horn, TX to the California-Arizona border and the Dunns had all of that except for one section. A friend from college and I had a six-week break and went to Arizona where they were working seven 12-hour days. We never had a day off, Christmas, New Year’s, nothing,” he recalled.

After surviving that rigorous test, Johnson returned to Dallas where he continued to work in the Dunns’ office, becoming a full-time member of the company after he graduated college. Johnson also took courses in business transportation but in 1975 wanted to try something different and left the company.

In 1988, Johnson rejoined Dunn Bros., Inc. In his years in the business, he has seen more than a few changes evolve, particularly with equipment.