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Little Kanawha Gas--
Valued Component of Calhoun  County
by Maricia Mylnek
     

Updated on Wednesday*:

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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 gas world.

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 1996.

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 Cunningham.

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 the rest.

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