FARMINGTON — Three local businesses with ties to San Juan County's energy industries were bestowed with Economic Development, Growth and Excellence Awards on Thursday. Lucky Ridge Inc. of Farmington, Miller & Sons Trucking Inc. of Bloomfield and Williams, a major natural gas processor with a large presence in Bloomfield, were honored with EDGE Awards. The companies were chosen from among nine nominees by a panel of local judges. The awards are organized by Four Corners Economic Development and recognize companies that provide good-paying jobs in what are called “economic base” industries. The EDGE Awards were announced at a banquet at the San Juan CollegeHenderson Fine Arts Center. Former New Mexico Gov. Garrey Carruthers gave the keynote speech. Lucky Ridge is a local success story for owners Anthony and Roxanna impson. A former BHP Billiton employee, Anthony cashed in his 401(k) to start the oilfield service company in 2006. Initially, Lucky Ridge was based in the San Juan College Enterprise Center, a local business incubator. When the oil and gas industry was devastated by a steep drop in natural gas prices, Lucky Ridge switched its focus to mining services in 2010. The company now does much of its work at Navajo Mine, including railroad maintenance for the mine’s coal-hauling train. Lucky Ridge has 30 employees, a majority of whom are Native American. The company has enjoyed an average annual growth rate of 27 percent.
“It's overwhelming,” Roxanna Simpson said in reaction to winning an Edge Award. Anthony Simpson credited Lucky Ridge's employees and their commitment to quality. Williams has several natural-gas gathering and processing facilities in the San Juan Basin. The company, based in Tulsa, Okla., has more than 300 local employees. “It's really an honor to be recognized in the community,” said Don Wicburg, general manager of Williams' Four Corners operations.
Natural gas processing is less sensitive than operations to the downturn in natural gas prices, Wicburg said. He added that Williams will be here throughout the market's ups and downs. “We're in this business for the long term,” he said. Miller and Sons Trucking is owned and operated by Tim and Sue Miller. The company has 10 employees and an annual revenue between $2 and $3 million. The company services pump jacks, and uses cranes in the field. The Millers could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday. Other nominees this year were Adobe Contractors, Antelope Sales and Service, Aztec Urgent Care, BP America, Industrial Cooling Exchanger and the Navajo Agricultural Products Industry. Now in its 11th year, the EDGE Awards went last year to Automation-X Corp. and Envirotech. “The prestige is really in the nomination “ said Chief District Judge John Dean, who served as master of ceremonies. State Rep. Tom Taylor, R-Farmington, who is president of Four Corners Economic Development, said Farmington needs to diversify its economy to withstand the boom-and-bust cycle that tends to affect energy-dependent towns. He noted that both of San Juan County's major coal-burning power plants face partial closures. “All of the sudden all of those things we thought would happen a long time in the future are happening now,” he said. Taylor held out hope for the potential of an oil boom in the Mancos Shale, a geographic layer of the San Juan Basin. “If that comes to fruition, it may be the last boom that we have,” he said. “It very well could be. We need to use that to create an economy that's like no place else.”