From his humble beginnings as a construction worker and later a tool pusher, Odessa’s Tommy Pipes has never been afraid to pay his dues.

That attitude eventually carried him to a high-level administration position with Key Energy Services until his retirement in 2011. That retirement didn’t last long however; that same year he joined forces with several partners to launch the highly successful, Platinum Pipe Rentals.

It also made him the perfect choice to serve as president of the Permian Basin International Oil Show, which he’s had to steer through two years of COVID-19.

“We did have to cancel last year’s show for the safety of all,” Pipes said. “But we’re doing good. We have outstanding board members, committee chairs and excellent community volunteers with a lot of experience doing this.

“It’s made it easy for me. I just have to support their efforts.”

A longtime executive board member, Pipes’ well-rounded knowledge in various aspects of the oil industry also made him the logical choice to oversee this year’s event, his peers say.

Pipes, 66, was born in Bryan, and is a 1973 Bryan Hill graduate.

From 1974 to 1981 he worked in the construction industry in the Bryan/College Station area before moving to Odessa in 1981 where he was hired as tool pusher by Yale E. Key.

For the next 30 years, Pipes worked his way up the ranks through the company which would eventually become Key Energy Services. After working as a tool pusher for several years, he was promoted to district manager, area manager, vice-president of Permian Basin Operations and then junior vice-president of Lower 48 Rig Operations.

The first crossroads Pipes faced was leaving behind his construction job and starting over as a tool pusher. The thought of starting a new career is a scary proposition to consider.

“It was a tough decision, but the right decision,” Pipes says looking back. “I had to think about the long-term opportunities and consider where the ceiling was for me.”

“It’s tougher for younger people to see that.”

The gamble was successful, but Pipes had to be patient and start at the bottom again with Yale E. Key. His persistence paid off as his role advanced with the growing company.

Although he really did intend to retire in 2011, he saw a niche opportunity with Platinum Pipe Rentals, which has grown into a full-service drill pipe and tubular rental company that serves the Permian Basin, South Texas and East Texas.

Pipes is a co-owner in the company, which also includes Larry Nunez, Mickey Padilla and Scott Sparkman. The four men all have different backgrounds in the oil business which complement each other, Pipes said.

“I had the opportunity to start a business with friends,” Pipes said. “We all share the same values, and belief in serving customers.

“Plus, we all have a lot of experience in the business and had a lot of contacts that we brought to the table.”

The once 4-person company, now boasts 28 fulltime employees.

Pipes says the company’s conservative approach is a big reason why it’s been a success.

“Our industry is cyclical,” Pipes said. “There’s times when you have more work than you can do, and other periods where everything stops.”

During the slower periods, the company invests in key personnel and equipment that other businesses are cutting loose to save money. It’s been a successful formula, Pipes said.

When he’s not occupied with work, the father of two sons is spending time with his six grandchildren or on a golf course.

Taking time to spend with family and enjoying life, is just as important to finding success, Pipes said.