The Applied Research and Development Company, ARDCO, was founded in 1955 in Addicks, Texas by Mr. David Crowell. The company built off-road equipment for rent to the growing oil and gas industry in Texas. Primary products were the Model F 4x4 buggy, the Model G 4x4 buggy and mobile camps mounted on barge-type trailers that were towed by the buggies. In late-1956, ARDCO opened the Lafayette, Louisiana facility to provide enhanced service and support to the gulf coast seismic industry.
ARDCO was acquired by the Falcon Seaboard Drilling Company in August of 1969. The ARDCO footprint continued to grow under Falcon’s ownership with facilities added in Laurel, Mississippi; Longview, Texas; and Edmunton, Canada. In November of 1978, Diamond Shamrock Corporation acquired Falcon Seaboard Company and ARDCO’s headquarters was moved to Houston, Texas. In 1980, a group headed by the president of ARDCO, Mr. Louis Ardis, purchased ARDCO from Diamond Shamrock Corporation. The tradition of innovation and off-road leadership continued with ARDCO expanding into the logging, construction and geotechnical markets, as well as expanding the geo-physical service offering by providing contract drilling services for seismic companies.
The Texas and gulf coast oil and gas industry experienced a challenging business environment in the 1980’s, which was a period of ongoing change for ARDCO. In 1985, ARDCO strengthened its position in the oil and gas industry by acquiring a major competitor, Gemco Equipment. ARDCO continued manufacturing both the ARDCO line of equipment along with the acquired Gemco lines. A pronounced slow-down in oil exploration in the mid-1980’s prompted ARDCO to exit the contract drilling market and focus solely on equipment solutions for sale and rent to the rapidly consolidating U.S. oil exploration industry.
In 1989, ARDCO was purchased by Pettibone Corporation, a leading manufacturer of material handling equipment, pipe and tire handling machines, rail road construction & maintenance machines, and rough-terrain fork lifts based in Baraga, Michigan. Under Pettibone’s ownership, the Lafayette, Louisiana facility was established as ARDCO’s headquarters for meeting the sales and service needs of the global oil & gas exploration, geothermal and geotechnical industries. Production of ARDCO buggies and rough-terrain fork lifts was integrated into Pettibone’s facility in Baraga, MI.
The site administration is grateful for the photos of general manager the ARDCO company - David Wall.