Sivalls is PBPA’s newest ‘Top Hand’

Industrialist’s Odessa history goes back to 1958

C. Richard “Dick” Sivalls

Pioneer Odessa industrialist C. Richard “Dick” Sivalls will receive his second major award in three months when he is designated the Permian Basin Petroleum Association’s “Top Hand” at a Jan. 18 reception and banquet at the Petroleum Club in Midland.

In October Sivalls was named the Permian Basin International Oil Show’s Honoree.

“The Top Hand Award is the highest award bestowed by PBPA members and one of the highest honors given to an energy professional in the Permian Basin,” a PBPA spokesman said. “Being a Top Hand means you exemplify all the best qualities of professional and community service.”

Sivalls is president and CEO of Sivalls Inc., where he’s worked since 1958, and he remains active in the company’s day-to-day operations, designing, manufacturing and selling process equipment for the oil, gas and petrochemical industries. He is also president of Tectrol and Control Ventures.

Sivalls, 89, is a native of Oklahoma City who served two years in the U.S. Army Signal Corps, reaching the rank of sergeant, and he graduated with distinction from the University of Oklahoma. He is a licensed professional engineer and member of the National Society of Professional Engineers who has written over 40 technical articles and papers on oil and gas production and processing equipment design.

Sivalls has taught courses in engineering and gas processing and oil treating at Texas Tech University, the University of Oklahoma and Texas A&M University and he is a member of the Distinguished Graduates Society of the College of Engineering at the University of Oklahoma.

“Throughout his illustrious career Dick has been incredibly active in many oil and gas trade associations and he is past chairman of the PBPA,” a PBPA spokesman said, adding that Sivalls’ community service as an Odessa city councilman and mayor pro-tem and as a member of the Permian Basin Regional Planning Commission and Permian Basin International Oil Show is a major reason why he is the latest Top Hand.

Sivalls was not available for comment on the Top Hand Award, but he said when designated the Oil Show Honoree that he most admired the past honorees who had worked to build up their communities as well as their businesses.

“They were calm, not flashy, and they were generous and sincere in what they invested in and worked on,” he said. “I have always thought it was important for the industry not to get separated from civic affairs.”

Sivalls’ companies had their origin to 1900 in Findlay, Ohio, where his grandfather James made redwood water and whiskey barrels and moved them on mule-drawn wagons. With the discovery of oil James Sivalls took on partners and began making wooden tanks for the industry in Bartlesville, Okla., in 1904.

Dick’s father Charles reached Odessa in 1947, bought land on the south side of the 2200 block of East Second Street and founded Sivalls Inc. as the energy industry transitioned from bolted metal tanks to welded ones for use in the Spraberry Field south of Midland.

Sivalls began working in Odessa in the summers while attending the University of Oklahoma, where he earned a degree in mechanical engineering, and he lived in a boardinghouse owned by Millie van Horn at Ninth Street and Sam Houston Avenue.

“Odessa had a couple of movie theaters and one or two decent restaurants and we had a grainy black and white TV set in the living room of the boardinghouse, so there wasn’t much to do but work hard, eat and go to bed,” Sivalls told the Odessa American in November 2017.

He and his late wife Lura had two children and three grandchildren.

Asked how his companies had survived all the booms and busts, Sivalls said, “You don’t buy boats and lake homes and airplanes.

“Put money in the bank and save what you can so when the downturn comes you can ride it out. Pay your employees well, pay your shareholders and hold onto some reserves because you know that sooner or later it will go ‘zap!’ down and then come back up for any one of a thousand reasons.

“We’re well-capitalized. We don’t owe any money and we try not to lay off anybody.”

With 250 employees in six states, Sivalls Inc. makes separators, treaters, water knockouts, heaters, gas production and dehydration units, gas and water treating equipment, emission control technology and offshore production and storage gear.

It also has plants at Pampa, Brownwood, Casper, Wyo., and Williston, N.D., and sales offices in Houston, Hobbs, N.M., Rock Springs and Evansville, Wyo., Wheatland, Okla., and Vernal, Utah.

Past Top Hands are Don Sparks, Autry C. Stephens, Dick Saulsbury, S. Javaid Anwar, Carlton E. Beal Jr., Barry A. Beal, Spencer E. Beal, Kelly S. Beal, Mack C. Chase, Curtis W. Mewbourne, Howard Parker and Joe Parsley, The Honorable Donald L. Evans, Scott Sheffield, Tim Leach, The Honorable Tom Craddick, Arden & Rosalind Redfern-Grover, Ted Collins Jr., Cloyce Talbott and Glenn Patterson, Jim Henry, L.D. “Buddy” Sipes, Tom L. Brown and Arlen L. Edgar.

Also, John F. Younger, Myra Robinson, Todd Aaron, Decker Dawson, Clayton W. Williams Jr., Mac O. Boring Jr., Cy Wagner and Jack Brown, John L. Cox, Robert M. Leibrock, George Gipson, Joe Pevehouse, Carlton Beal Sr., Joe B. McShane Jr., Joseph O’Neill Jr., C.W. “Claude” Brown, Robert O. Anderson, John E. Reid, Charles Perry, Ed Thompson, Ben Alexander, Eddie Chiles, John P. Butler and Stanley Moore.