Ralph Cunningham is a third generation worker in the gas
industry. Born and raised in
Big Springs, he is a native Calhouner.
Working as a roust-about, or field hand, at the age of
15 for Bowser Oil and Gas, Cunningham learned his way around the natural
After graduating from Calhoun County High School in
1973, he took a job in Parkersburg at the Ames Shovel plant.
“I knew quickly that this was not what I wanted to spend
the rest of my life doing,” said Cunningham.
In 1974, he returned to Calhoun and worked about three
months for Eureka Oil Co. in Brooksville. He then returned to Bowser Oil
and Gas until he took a job with Dowell Well Service Co. for two years.
In 1977, Cunningham began another venue of work as he
took a job with Fred Shock to work on water and sewer lines, but the gas
industry continued to call him back.
By the spring of 1978, he was working for Consolidated
Gas, which later became Dominion, and stayed with the company until
He worked in the measurement department from 1987-1994.
After a reduction of workers, Cunningham was cut back to a fieldman, and
was moved to the transmission department.
In 1996, when the company was looking for employees to
take buyouts, Cunningham felt a buyout would give him a chance to start
his own business and to continue work with his developed skills.
By the end of April, he had started his own business,
called Little Kanawha Gas Measurement. Twelve years later, his business
continues to evolve.
“The matter of expansion has been slow but sure,” said
Cunningham. “I have worked in every aspect of the oil and gas production
that can be dealt with.”
He has done everything from mowing the area around wells
to working on a spudder cable rig.
“There is no question that the decision to begin my
business was the right thing to do. I have no regrets,” said Cunningham.
The business that began in Cunningham’s garage has been
successfully operating and serving almost all aspects of gas measurement
in approximately 20 counties.
Ralph explains gas chromatigraph.
“We serve in excess of 300 gas measurement operating
agreements (GMOA). Meter testing, repair and assembly are all offered,
as well as the building and setting of pre-fab rotary sets,” said
Little Kanawha Gas Measurement, owned and managed by
Cunningham, employs two gas measurement specialists, one fabricator that
assembles and builds pre-fab sets, and one secretary.
According to Cunningham, his biggest hurdle is trying to
find reasonable materials that are economical: “We began making about
$5,800 a year, but have gradually grown.”
Little Kanawha Gas Measurement is extremely busy and
looking into new opportunities coming to the area.
Hours of operation at its headquarters, located just
East of Grantsville, are Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“Calhoun County is as good a place to work as any, and I
would rather be here than any other place,” said Cunningham.
Ralph Cunningham knows the gas industry, inside and out.
His successful business is a testimony of hard work and dedication. It
is one of those valued components that sets the county apart from all