Engineered for success
Gregory Elliott is pictured here. The native and resident of Beaver was inducted into the LSU College of Engineering Hall of Distinction this past April. He is the son of the late Besse and Jesse Elliott. (Photo courtesy of Gregory Elliott)
By: TONY MARKS
Throughout history countless citizens from small towns across the country as well immigrants from lands overseas have sought the American dream of achieving prosperity and success. This dream is still alive today and is realized for a native of rural Evangeline Parish Gregory Elliott. He was recently inducted into the LSU College of Engineering Hall of Distinction.
The Hall of Distinction was created in 1979 and recognizes those who have made significant contributions in engineering. According to the LSU College of Engineering Website, “Criteria for election include distinguished professional achievement, dedicated service to engineering, and outstanding humanitarian activities. Nominations may be made by anyone, and are solicited each year from alumni, faculty, and friends of the College. Election to the Hall of Distinction is by a broadly constituted ten-member Board of Election, which reviews and acts on nominations.”
The humble Elliott credited his successes in life to the time he spent growing up in Beaver. “I am a prime example where someone from a rural area of Central Louisiana can achieve an award like this through hard work and lots of positive support,” he said. “I feel blessed to have grown up in such a surrounding where no one put limits on another’s future, where everyone knows everyone, where hard work is highly respected, and where there is a keen sense of self-resilience and an equal sense of responsibility to help those in need. Growing up in a small, working class town, I felt a high degree of accountability for my actions and an ingrained obligation to give back to my community.”
He also credited his latest achievement to “growing up in a loving, supportive family and community where everyone knew everyone and where many of our family members worked in the petroleum industry with some working together in the Easton oilfield starting back in the early 1900s.”
Jesse Elliott, Greg’s father, devoted his life to working in the local oil and gas scene. “My father’s career was primarily in the local upstream oil and gas industry,” Elliott said. “He spent a large portion of his career after World War II working in the Easton oilfield located just south of Pine Prairie.”
Elliott and his brother decided to follow in their father’s footsteps. He said, “My brother spent his career in well construction and retired from Shell Deepwater Gulf of Mexico after 32-years of service.”
His wife, Missy, also comes from an oil and gas family in the Pine Prairie area. “My wife’s family has a long history in the petroleum industry,” Elliott said. “Her father, Kenneth Evans, was a 1950 LSU Petroluem Engineering graduate. He spent his career working in the Gulf Coast, North Sea, and South America.”
Elliott’s parents supported the three children in achieving a college education, and it was another family member who steered Elliott in the direction of Louisiana State University.
“When deciding on a degree program, a big influence in choosing LSU petroleum engineering was my father’s cousin, Dr. Walter Whitehead,” Elliott said. “He was a petroleum engineering professor at LSU. Dr. Whitehead was from Forest Hill, La., another small town near Pine Prairie. He and my father were close, and Dr. Whitehead promoted LSU’s PETE department. He suggested that I consider becoming a petroleum engineer, and I elected to do so. After graduating from Pine Prairie High School in 1976, I attended LSU-Alexandria taking engineering prerequisites. I transferred to the LSU-Baton Rouge campus in 1979.”
“LSU was an easy choice for me due to the Tiger athletic program and the university’s colorful history dating back to the Huey Long days,” he continued. “Also, in the late 1970s, it was one of the top universities in the world in the field of petroleum engineering. Today, LSU continues to be a top petroleum engineering university which makes me proud of my alma mater.”
While spending his time where stately oaks and broad magnolias shade inspiring halls, Elliott attained valuable hands-on experience, working in the LSU PERTT Lab, that he was able to bring with him in the workforce.
Elliott said, “At this site we worked under the direction of Mr. Jim Segura with frequent visits and guidance from the PETE Department’s professors.”
“We did many types of work including carpentry, ditch digging, and oilfield plumbing,” he continued. “We mainly used the ‘on-the-job’ training method. During this period, the new well control subsea well facility was constructed by student employees under Mr. Jim’s direction.”
Upon receiving his Bachelor of Science degree in December 1981, Elliott began working for Chevron as a drilling and well test engineer. “While working for Chevron Overseas, I lived in San Ramon, Calif., and traveled to Europe, Africa, South America, and the former Soviet Union for various petroleum well construction related business.”
Elliott’s time at Chevron came to an end in January 1997 because he wanted to do more with the tools he had, and he started his own company. “I founded Workstrings International, LLC, in 1997 because I saw a need to add more advanced engineering design capabilities to support well construction rental tools,” he said.
Workstrings is headquartered in Lafayette and was the first company of its kind to create and develop, on a large scale, a certain market sector. In doing so the company revolutionized the drill pipe oilfield rental industry.
According to Elliott, “Workstrings has become a global leader in providing highly engineered, special purpose rental tubulars for the worldwide oil and gas industry. It employs petroleum and mechanical engineers to support our rental tubulars associated with global well construction.”
Gregory and Missy Elliott still reside in Beaver and are involved in the community. “We own and manage several thousand acres of land in the Beaver Creek area,” he said. “On this property we sponsor hunting and fishing trips for Wounded War Heros annually.”
The Elliotts have also started, in 2015, the Acadiana Chapter of the Safari Club International. The club “promotes hunter advocacy, wildlife science based conservation, public and youth education, and local humanitarian initiatives.”
Elliott then went on to reflect on his days as a student at LSU and on his time working in the industry that he loves. “I am proud to be part of the storied legacy of LSU engineering alumni and to play a small role in reinventing the U. S. petroleum industry and returning it to a leadership position in technology and productive capacity,” he said.
“I am also proud to continue the legacy of my father and countless others whose contributions toward the advancement of the petroleum industry has helped to lift millions of people out of poverty and improve the quality of life for the world’s population.”