Born in the early days of the Texas oil boom, Texaco was the idea of two men with contrasting styles and outlooks. “Buckskin Joe” Cullinan was a risk-taking entrepreneur who had learned his trade in the oil fields of Pennsylvania. Arnold Schlaet was a financier whose prudence provided a valuable counterweight to Cullinan’s daring and determination.

Cullinan knew every aspect of the oil business from drilling wells and laying pipelines to running a refinery and marketing products. He had a keen eye for the potential of the sleepy agricultural region of East Texas where oil recently had been discovered. And as his nickname implied, Cullinan was a rough-hewn, forceful leader who was adept at gaining the maximum effort from his workers.

What Cullinan lacked was the financial savvy that was second nature to Schlaet. As an employee of H.P. Lapham and Co., he managed the investment firm’s petroleum interests. But despite his natural conservatism, he was so impressed with Cullinan’s plans for buying Texas crude oil at low prices and distributing it to Eastern markets that he helped Cullinan gain capital to get the venture off the ground.

Together, Cullinan and Schlaet initially founded a modest enterprise. Established in March 1901 as The Texas Fuel Company, it started out in three rooms in a corrugated iron building in Beaumont, Texas. At the outset, the company had just 12 employees, and it made up in grit what it lacked in numbers. As Pulitzer Prize winning author Marquis James wrote, “the pioneering employees…slept in their clothes and worked around the clock in the days when drinking water in the Spindletop field sold for 10 cents a cup and oil for three cents a barrel … .”

The company’s fortunes changed overnight with the discovery of oil at Sour Lake, just 20 miles from Beaumont. Renamed The Texas Company, the enterprise had a solid foundation for the growth that would mark its ascent in the decades ahead. As Texaco Inc., it would become one of the leading global energy companies with a rich history of achievements.

The famous “star” logo was created in 1903 – modeled after the five-pointed star of Texas.


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