(Editor’s note: Much of the information herein is from the book by Paul E. Patterson, Hardhat and Stetson. Patterson had been a long-time employee of Anderson’s, as ranch foreman and manager of many of his vast New Mexico ranches.
Another information source used here about this beloved and gentle industrial giant — claimed as their own by New Mexico residents of Lea, Lincoln and Chaves counties — is The Wildcatter, A Portrait of Robert O. Anderson, a celebration of the American entrepreneurial spirit, by British journalist, Kenneth Harris. Rwm)
Robert O. Anderson, the founder and former chairman and chief executive officer of Atlantic Richfield, or ARCO, was once the largest individual landowner in the U.S. — owning around 2,000 square miles (more than a million acres) of ranchland in New Mexico, Texas, Wyoming and extending into Colorado. At one time, he owned and operated 28 ranches.
In March 1961, Anderson’s New Mexico ranches included:
* Diamond A near Wagon Mound with 120,000 acres — including the ranch formerly owned by Dartmouth College and two other ranches totaling 30,000 acres — had 3,100 Hereford cows.
* Agua Verde Ranch near Clines Corners leased 74,000 acres from the Ortiz y Pino family and supported 1,250 Herefords.
* Red Bluff Ranch, north of Roswell, had 48,000 acres carrying 710 Brangus.
* Ladder Ranch, west of Truth or Consequences, had 175,000 acres that supported 1,500 Hereford cows and 6,500 sheep.
* Latigo Ranch near Cuervo had 101,000 acres with 800 Brangus cows.
* Four Dinkus Ranch, south of Artesia, was a leased ranch of 20,000 acres with about 250 horses, most of which were brood mares.
* Circle Diamond Ranch near Hondo had 1,000 acres, including irrigated apple orchards and hay fields, supporting 1,500 sheep on feed.
In the 1970s, with his Diamond A International, he had land holdings in Australia, Madagascar, Brazil, and Iran when it was under the reign of the Shah. He was chairman, member of the board of directors or trustee for 21 business, civic or philanthropic organizations.
For 20 years, Robert O. Anderson was the chairman, chief executive officer and major stockholder of ARCO, a huge conglomerate corporation that included refineries, pipelines, tankers, petrochemicals, uranium, coal, copper and other metal products. As Chairman, he built the Alaska Pipeline and negotiated the first American offshore drilling operation in China. He owned the London newspaper, the Observer, and stabilized its financial condition while maintaining its independence and journalistic standards.
He advised U.S. presidents, several of whom were his friends; ambassadors and kings entertained him, international bankers consulted with him. He is a world-recognized industrialist and businessman.
From his earliest adulthood, he enjoyed and appreciated the beauty of nature and wanted to keep its purity. When he was young, naturalist was the word used to describe the kind of man he is; the word later became conservationist. Now the term is environmentalist. “I know of no more important business for all of us than the environment and the manner of us interacting with it,” he had said.
In addition to his better-known successes was the development of the Brangus cattle — a healthy crossbreed between the Aberdeen Angus and the Brahma that proved to be hardier than the Hereford on the hot dry plains of New Mexico.
Another of Anderson’s successes was triticale — a hybrid grass, part rye and part wheat, high in protein that withstands drought. After four years of experimentation at his Circle Diamond Ranch at Hondo, ARCO began producing 17 different varieties of triticale on a grand scale for worldwide production.
Besides ranches, Anderson owned a number of farms that included fruit orchards. He became involved in national and international agricultural ventures, as well as other types of enterprises. His innovative ventures included solar energy. He invested in medical, educational and cultural institutions; some of those were Boy Scouts, public libraries, museums, foundations, arts and opera.
During the 1960s era, he owned a feedlot and a range feed manufacturing mill. Then and soon thereafter, he owned a steel fabricating and galvanizing company, a real estate company, and headed a corporation that was to develop a ski resort on the slopes of the Sierra Blanca in the Lincoln National Forest near Ruidoso in Lincoln County. This ski resort was sold to the Mescalero Apaches in 1964 and became known as Ski Apache.
During that era, beginning in 1959, Anderson began to buy various historic buildings around New Mexico, restored them to their original conditions, and turned them into the state’s finest restaurants filled with exquisite antiques gathered from all over the world. Anderson commissioned his friend, John Meigs, to search for and acquire the countless valuable antiques used to furnish his six restaurants.
Meigs, the artist, resided in the Hondo Valley near his friends, world-famous artists Peter Hurd and and Henriette Wyeth — all of whom were neighbors of the Andersons. Robert O’s and Barbara’s primary home was on the Circle Diamond Ranch in the Hondo.
Robert O’s Five-Star Tinnie Mercantile Corporate Restaurants were:
* The old Tinnie Mercantile building, located in the Hondo Valley, was the first of the restaurants scattered across New Mexico. The recorded history of the name and building goes back to 1882 when it had been a general store and post office for the community of Tinnie. This picturesque rambling white building with its red roofs and steeple on Highway 70 west of Roswell has long been a favorite subject of artists and photographers.
* The Legal Tender, located at Lamy, was originally named the Pink Garter. Lamy was a historical railroad town 16 miles south of Santa Fe. With the exception of the Catholic church and the Santa Fe Railroad depot, Anderson purchased the town. At the time of the purchase, the Pink Garter building was already a “gay nineties” bar and restaurant.
* The Palace had begun life as the lobby of the historic Palace Hotel, across from the Santa Fe Railroad depot in Raton, in northeastern New Mexico. Raton was known as the gateway to New Mexico to travelers after they crossed the high mountain pass from Colorado.
* The historic building housing Maria Teresa, on Albuquerque’s Old Town Plaza in central New Mexico, began in the 18th century as a residence. By 1840, it was a bar and restaurant. Prior to becoming Anderson’s Maria Teresa, this Registered National Historic Place at Rio Grande NW in Old Town Albuquerque was known as the Casa Vieja (the old house).
* The Double Eagle on the Old Mesilla plaza near Las Cruces in southwestern New Mexico had been one of several territorial houses built around that plaza after the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo in 1848. There, James Gadsden drafted the Gadsden Purchase Treaty in 1850.
* The Golden spike, originally called the Lodge, located in the high mountain village of Cloudcroft, was the sixth of the Tinnie Mercantile restaurants.
One of four children of Hugo and Hilda Anderson, Robert Orville Anderson was born in Chicago in 1917. Hilda’s origin was Chicago; Hugo’s was Sweden, from where Hugo’s parents had immigrated.
As a banking officer, in the 1930s Hugo began the risky but successful business of extending loans to people in the rapidly growing oil industry. Hugo used his skills as an apt scholar of men’s characters, along with his acquired knowledge of the oil and gas industry, to invest in, as collateral, their words and their beliefs in what lay unseen and untapped at specific places beneath the earth’s surface.
It was through the father, Hugo Anderson, that interest in becoming an oil and gas wildcatter began for the son, Robert. Immediately after he acquired a Bachelor of Science degree in business in 1939, Robert Orville Anderson and Barbara Phelps were married.
Eventually they would have seven children, two sons and five daughters.
Through college, Robert O had worked for a company between semesters and summers laying pipeline in the Texas oilfields. He remained with that company for two years after graduation. He and his father learned that owners of Bell Oil and Gas Company, which already owned two refineries in Oklahoma, were considering buying the small Malco Refinery in Artesia that was then processing around 1,500 barrels a day. Sam and Benedict Lubell, owners of Bell Oil, were looking for a partner to invest with them in the Artesia refinery.
At the ages of 24, with his father’s assistance, Robert became the part-owner, secretary and vice-president of Malco. Robert, Barbara and their first-born child climbed into their car loaded with their possessions and headed west from Chicago to Artesia.
Now, years after the refinery begun as Malco, and Robert O improved and nurtured it into much greater productivity, it is owned by Navajo.
There — with the Malco refinery in the small town of Artesia — is where and how Robert O. Anderson’s amazing career in the oil and gas industry, the cattle and sheep business and many other successful enterprises began and extended beyond the southwestern U.S. climes to frigid Prudhoe Bay on Alaska’s North Slope near the Arctic Sea.
From boardroom to prairie, he seemed happiest when he was close to the land, riding his horse beside Barbara, wearing his battered signature Stetson.
About 12 years ago, R.D. Hubbard, financier of the Museum of the Horse at Ruidoso, and Anderson founded the Lincoln county Cowboy symposium — an annual three-day fall gathering of thousands of cowboy-types. Cowboy poetry, good fiddle music, storytelling and authentic chuck-wagon fare briefly transport attendees back to a rapidly disappearing way of life.
Besides his brilliant successes, Robert O. Anderson was, and is still, a humble man perhaps best known locally for his generosity and active participation in civic and philanthropic activities.
(Robert O suffered a stroke a few years ago, but he continues to go daily into his Roswell office and he and Barbara still socialize with old friends. His brother, Donald B. Anderson, is also a successful oilman and philanthropic entrepreneur and investor in artists and their art in this community. Phelps Anderson, son of Robert O. and Barbara, was actively involved in many of his father’s business enterprises. Phelps is running for Congress.)
The sites of many of Robert O’s ranches were on lands of early Spanish and Mexican land grants affected by the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo of 1848. Then, the Territory of New Mexico included all of what is now New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and parts of Colorado and Wyoming.
Patterson mentioned in his book, Hardhat and Stetson, names and events well known in New Mexico history because they and their stories were recorded on or conjured up by many of the abstracts of vast lands then owned by Anderson. Some of those included Charles Goodnight, Oliver Loving, John Chisum, Patrick Garrett, Billy the Kid Bonney, James J. Hagerman, Cap’ Burton Mossman, Louise Massey, Albert Fountain, J.P. White, the Civil War in New Mexico, early Indian tribe residents, the Lincoln County War, the Colfax County War, Fort Union, the Mora Land Grant, the Beaubien and Miranda Land Grant that became part of the Maxwell Land Grant, Thomas B. Catron and Stephen B. Elkins and other powerful members of the infamous Santa Fe Ring who became involved with those grants, Lucien B. Maxwell and William Raymond Morley of Cimarron.
Patterson tarried here and there to add the above touches of early history along the way of telling Robert O’s story.
In that telling, he also mentioned the names of Malcolm Forbes, former New Mexico Governor Tom Bolack, Les Davis of the CS Ranch in northeastern New Mexico, Sid Goodloe, R.D. Hubbard, the Yates family, and Ted Turner, who bought the vast Vermejo Park in northern New Mexico where oil and gas has been recently discovered.
Pictured left is what had been the office complex of Transportation Manufacturing Corporation (TMC). This building is now occupied by Motor Coach Industries, International (MCII). The large blue building in the background — originally an airplane hangar when the area had been Walker Air Force Base — had been TMC’s Plant One (then painted green). The facility is now known as Dean Baldwin Painting, and it is once again used for airplanes.
(Editor’s note: This series began with the first issue of Roswell Web Magazine, on its Industry Page, because coach and bus manufacturing has been a viable presence in, and of vital importance to, Roswell, Chaves County and New Mexico for three decades. Most if not all of the local businesses and residents have been directly or indirectly affected by this industry. The subject has recently become of even more importance in New Mexico with the threatened closure of NovaBUS.)
In some ways, a bus and a coach are the same, but there are some subtle differences.
The following definitions come from the 2002 Fact Book published by Metro Magazine: “Motorcoach: Over-the-road bus, usually with three axles, with luggage storage and more plush than a transit bus.” And “Transit Bus: One designed for frequent stops with front and back-center doors, traditionally with a rear-mounted engine and low-back seating.” And “Intercity Bus: Large bus with front doors only, high-back seats and luggage storage for high-speed, long-distance trips.” The industry sometimes calls these Suburban buses.
Buses and coaches are the primary means of mass transportation on the streets and highways. Cities like Toronto, Chicago or New York buy large fleets of identical or nearly identical buses or coaches at once, on one contract, which is good from the viewpoint of the manufacturer. Public transportation buses or coaches are regulated and must meet government standards and requirements that include emissions, safety, comfort and handicap-accessible.
The Federal Transportation Administration (FTA) makes 80% of the costs available if the customer and manufacturer follow Buy America requirements, although in practice the federal match is much lower than 80%. The Buy America Act requires any bus using federal funds to meet certain criteria: a minimum of 60% of the materials be of domestic origin and the vehicle’s final assembly be in the U.S.
In the 1970s, the government began to require that buses be designed to meet federal accessibility guidelines for handicapped and elderly travelers. Buses began to be equipped with wheelchair lifts, and some had a “kneeling” feature allowing the bus threshold to be temporarily lowered for boarding passengers. Those features were expensive and had unique problems. Federal requirements were made even stricter with the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act.
The low floor bus is now becoming the standard accessibility feature. The main reason for this is that the design eliminates the wheelchair lift, which is a complicated piece of equipment and has been prone to break-down in the past. Wheelchair passengers board low-floor buses with the assistance of ramps, which are much simpler devices.
The industry’s switch to low-floor designs was one of the major factors that led to the demise of some manufacturers. In addition, the bus industry was challenged by increasingly tighter pollution controls on bus engines, growing demand for alternatively fueled buses and other trends that some manufacturers were simply unable to handle.
Sources for most of the following information were the pertinent websites or brochures of each of the bus companies; website addresses are provided.
Because Roswell’s remaining manufacturer, NovaBUS, builds buses and not coaches, the rest of this article will focus on the manufacturers of heavy-duty buses in North America. Several of those are now gone. Flxible, based in the Columbus, Ohio area, is one of those.
Grumman Flxible (www.flxible.net/historyI.html) had a modest beginning like most of the other bus and coach manufacturing companies. Flxible (no, the word is not misspelled) began in 1912 by manufacturing sidecars for motorcycles. Henry Ford, with his mass-produced cars costing less than motorcycles, ended that enterprise. Flxible began to build buses, funeral cars and ambulances, and during the World War II years, it built wartime products. Grumman bought the company in 1978 and it became the Grumman Flxible Corporation. One of its assembly plants was in Delaware. In 1983, it was sold to General Automotive Corporation, which continued to manufacture the bus line until it closed operations in 1995.
There now remain six heavy-duty bus manufacturers in North America. Those are NovaBUS, Neoplan, Orion (OBI), New Flyer, Gillig and North American Bus (NABI). Several of those are having serious difficulties.
NovaBUS, Inc. (www.novabus.com /english/about/history) was discussed in the first issue of Roswell Web Magazine, accessible on the Internet since January 30. (To review, click on Archives and then on Industry page.)
NovaBUS was formed in 1993. When it acquired the MCI manufacturing plant in St. Eustache, Quebec, it began its bus manufacturing operations. In 1994, it incorporated a U.S. subsidiary, NovaBUS, Inc., which acquired the RTS business of TMC from MCI. In 1998, Prevost Car Inc. — a joint subsidiary of Volvo Bus Henlys — acquired the assets of the NovaBUS Corporation. Including the one near Roswell, NovaBUS has four plants. Two are located in Quebec Province and one in the state of New York.
What caused Roswell’s NovaBUS plant to be in the shape it is in today? One reason might be that the industry has changed over the past few years and has gone away from standard-floor (high-floor) buses.
The RTS was a great product for its time, but the vast majority of new bus procurements are now low-floor. Roswell’s NovaBUS realized this some time ago and attempted to design a low-floor model but for some reason, was not able to follow through. NovaBUS does have a low-floor product already produced in Quebec. That model was marketed to transit agencies in the United States and Canada.
Roswell’s NovaBUS plant is experiencing serious financial difficulties and needs to close operations, but it has outstanding contracts to manufacture buses not yet begun on the assembly line. Closure is delayed because of those unbreakable contracts, including one for 70 DART buses for the City of Dallas that is costing NovaBUS millions. The company actively seeks a way to solve that dilemma in order to shut the plant.
Neoplan USA (www.neoplanusa.com) opened its corporate headquarters and transit bus manufacturing facility in Lamar, Colorado in May 1981. Four years later, it opened a manufacturing facility in Pennsylvania and a spare parts manufacturing plant in Dallas. It developed a low-floor bus, a double-decker, a 45 foot and a 60-foot articulated bus. It also developed a carbon-fiber composite bus but has never marketed it, and it has moved towards use of alternate fuels. Their buses are entirely built in the U.S.
Orion Bus Industries (OBI) (www.stage.freightliner.com/products/orion.htlm) home-based in Mississaugua, Ontario, manufactured urban transit and shuttle buses with safety features, alternative fuels and low floors. Orion transit buses and selected Thomas Built commercial buses were formerly integrated under Freightliner LLC, DaimlerChrysler’s North American commercial vehicle division.
In Europe, DaimlerChrysler merged its Mercedes-Benz and Setra bus companies into a business unit called Evobus. Recently, DaimlerChrysler announced its new commercial bus reorganization for its North American bus businesses. The reorganization puts the company’s North American commercial bus and coach brands within a new division, DaimlerChrysler Commercial Buses North America, headquartered in Greensboro, N.C. They will consist of Setra highway coaches, Orion transit buses and selected Thomas Built commercial buses. Besides in Greensboro, production locations for Orion and Thomas Built commercial buses are in Oriskany, N.Y. and Mississauga Ontario. Setra coaches are imported from Germany.
New Flyer (www,newflyer.com/index.htm) began as Western Auto. When its name changed to Western Flyer in 1948, it became a North American manufacturer of highway coaches and school buses. Then, in the 1960s, it stopped making coaches and began the manufacture of urban transit buses and trolley buses.
A family-owned Holland bus manufacturer acquired Flyer Industries in 1986 and the company’s name was changed to New Flyer Industries. This Dutch company developed and introduced a low floor bus to the European market.
New Flyer of America began in 1987 operating a final assembly plant in California. It was moved to Grand Forks N.D. in 1990; in 1996, it relocated to a final assembly facility in Crookston, Minnesota. In 1998, a third assembly plant was constructed in St. Cloud, Minnesota and production began there in 1999.
New Flyer was the first company to introduce to North America a line of low floor transit buses and was the largest domestic manufacturer of buses after the closure of Flxible. However, they are in serious financial distress and the company is on the market.
Gillig (www.gillig.com/lowfloor.htm) is a privately held corporation located at Hayward, 25 miles east of San Francisco. The company is more than 110 years old; it began by customizing and rebuilding that era’s transportation vehicles: carriages and buggies. The company manufactures and sells heavy-duty transit buses with popular features such as low floor. The company also has a parts division at the same location. Gillig remains a strong company with a good reputation.
One of the perceived successes of this company is its steady production numbers rather than surges of high production, requiring many new-hires, and then drops leading to massive layoffs — an employee fluctuation commonly occurring at other bus and coach manufacturing companies.
North American Bus Industries, Inc. (NABI) (www.nabiusa.com/new/index/htlm) has its American bus manufacturing plant in Anniston, Alabama, a parts division in Delaware, Ohio and sales and marketing office near Los Angeles. The company’s home-office is located in Budapest, Hungary.
An investment fund in Hungary began to develop the new company in 1992 by buying a final assembly plant in Anniston and acquiring a bus-body fabricating plant in Budapest owned by Ikarus, a Hungarian bus maker. The investors also bought the manufacturing rights to produce the Ikarus standard-floor 40-foot and 60-foot buses. Designs were revised to meet the American standards for mass transportation. The final assembly operations located in the USA at Anniston, the parts and service network and the California new bus sales offices are part of an Alabama corporation, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the NABI Group headquartered in Hungary.
Bus bodies are shipped by rail, ocean vessel and truck from Hungary to Anniston, where their final assemblies and testing are done, and from where they are delivered to customers. NABI buses fully comply with Buy America.
NABI began to design its own low floor transit bus in 1996 and made many other improvements over those of the Ikarus buses. They recently developed lighter weight composite structured buses following a Department of Transportation research project finding that the public transit industry would favor new buses with composite bodies.
NABI’s CompoBuses are as much as 7,000 pounds lighter than other typical buses, making them less expensive to operate, having greater tensile strength than traditional structural materials, and making them corrosion-free.
NABI acquired a subsidiary company, Optare in England, in early 2000. Optare produces a full line of buses and coaches for the British market, and exports 30-foot low floor buses to the U.S., which will be sold to non-transit customers. NABI has considerably enlarged its final assembly plant at Anniston and continues to expand and apply new technologies.