Sunday, November 23rd, 2014

Clarendon firm unveils S17-E Elevating Scraper

The first Terex S-17E Elevating Scraper was unveiled here last week with high expectations that the new machine may give Donley County’s economy a lift.

 The prototype scraper, which can move up to 17 cubic yards of dirt, was built by Clarendon Manufacturing and Terex Equipment Ltd. of Motherwell, Scotland. The local firm plans to build two more scrapers this year and 20 next year.

Company officials say they are currently negotiating a three-year contract with Terex, and they predict as many as 70 new jobs will be created over the course of the contract.

“One year ago, almost to the day, all we had was a purchase order.  Today [we have] a scraper,” said Clarendon General Manager Darrell Leffew. “That’s short work – from design to machine in just 12 months.”

A crowd of an estimated 200 people were on hand for the unveiling last Friday at the Courthouse Square. State Sen. Tom Haywood (R-Wichita Falls) and US Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Clarendon) were featured speakers at the ceremony, and a representative from State Rep. Warren Chisum’s (R-Pampa) office was also present.

“I’m glad I got to be home on this exciting day,” Thornberry said.

People are continuing to leave rural areas, making it harder for state and national representatives to fight for rural and agricultural concerns, Thornberry said.

“The key to turning around this trend is creating jobs in rural areas.”

Thornberry said opportunities for jobs won’t come from Washington or Austin, but rather they will come from people like Darrell Leffew and from hard work.

Today’s global economy is nothing new for Clarendon, he said, noting past involvement from English and Scottish investors in the Texas Panhandle.

“Donley County has been in a global economy for a long time with its earliest ranches involved in partnerships with people in Great Britain.

“Today we can work together and be stronger than we would be separately.”

 
Darrell Leffew and J.E. Hancock look over the new Terex S-17E.

Enterprise Digital Photo.
 
Also present Friday was 95-year-old J.E. Hancock of Lubbock, who Clarendon’s operations director, Stan Leffew, called the “Father of the Elevating Scraper.” Hancock’s company designed and built elevating scrapers before selling out to Clark Equipment, which then built the machine for Terex for many years.

Darrell Leffew went to work for Hancock in 1962 and was employed by him for nearly ten years before founding Clarendon Manufacturing & Distributing Co., Inc.

To Hancock went the honor of the cutting the rope to unveil the S-17E as the crowd cheered and Harold Taylor of Friona played “Scotland the Brave” on the bagpipes in full Scottish attire.

Also speaking at Friday’s unveiling were Clarendon EDC President Trey Chamberlain and Clarendon Mayor Tex Selvidge.

Representing Terex were John Dudgeon of Terex Americas’ Tulsa office and Randall Orr from Houston.

Prior to Friday’s festivities, the S-17E underwent shake-down testing by moving approximately 10,000 cubic yards of dirt on the west edge of the Clarendon College campus. The newly leveled area is expected to be the future site for an equestrian and livestock center for the college.

The future holds more tests in store for the prototype over the next few weeks before Terex turns it over to a contractor for the an independent evaluation.

In the meantime, Stan Leffew says Clarendon Manufacturing will be ordering supplies this week for the next two scrapers, and the company is proceeding with plans to build a new plant.

Leffew said the company is in contract to buy property on north Hwy. 70 where the old drive-in theater is. The new facility would be 22,500 sq. ft. plus office space.

Clarendon Manufacturing currently has five employees in its shop, and Leffew said new workers will probably come from out of town.

“We’ll mostly likely be drawing on Clarendon College’s machinist program in Pampa and on Amarillo College’s welding program.”

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