Aaron Harmon first arrived in Enid to attend Phillips University. While there, he met his wife, an Enid native, and they both went to work for GEFCO, a local manufacturer.
GEFCO is an Enid native too. It was started in 1931 when entrepreneur George E. Failing mounted a power takeoff unit in the back of a farm truck to create the first portable drilling rig.
Today, Harmon is GEFCO’s president, and the company does business in more than 100 countries on six continents. It has diversified into many aspects of the drilling industry, offering products and services for water, geothermal and environmental wells. Despite a gusher of growth, the company has remained in Enid, which Harmon attributes to exceptional employees and a business-friendly environment.
“The reason we’re here is, first and foremost, the people. We’ve got a great team here. We’ve been able to recruit and train great leadership,” he says.
Excellent workplace education programs have allowed the company to build on that foundation, he adds.
He cites just one example: “In 2011, our facility had 15 workplace injuries. We installed new leadership in our safety program, our employees really bought in, and we were able to decrease our on-the-job incidences to three in each of the last two years. We even went for 277 days without an accident. That was only possible because Autry Technology Center came in and designed a program just for us. They provided all of the resources we needed and helped with funding. Community partners like that really help a business thrive.”
A Kansas City transplant, Harmon says from the time he first arrived, Enid fulfilled his best expectations for small town living. “There’s a sense of community here,” he says. “We routinely rub shoulders with state and local leaders, and that’s something we probably couldn’t do in a larger city like Dallas.”
At the same time, he finds the opportunity to enjoy competitive sports or other forms of entertainment comparable to what a large metropolitan area offers. “Living here I catch as many K.C. Royals or Texas Rangers games as I could have if I’d stayed in Kansas City,” he says. “The college world series (which Enid hosts) is fantastic baseball. The entertainment options coupled with the lifestyle are very attractive to me.”