Charles Pelton

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Charles Pelton
C. R. Pelton headshot.png
Latest company Pelton Company
BSc Geology
BSc university University of Oklahoma

Biography Citation for Cecil Green Enterprise Award

Contributed by H. A. Wakefield

The 1992 Cecil Green Enterprise Award goes to an individual who is an epitome of the qualities that are considered when seeking suitable candidates for the recipient of this award. The Honors & Awards Committee seeks individuals who, to quote from the description of the Enterprise Award, "have demonstrated courage, ingenuity, and achievement while risking their own resources and future in developing a product, service, organization, or activity which is recognized as a distinct and worthy contribution to the industry." The recipient qualifies in all respects.

Charles (Dick) Pelton was graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 1951 with a BS degree in geology. He was employed by Continental Oil Company in the Geophysical Department. At that time, all new employees were assigned to a geophysical field crew to begin their training. Dick's education was in geology, but he had a natural aptitude for and understanding of electronics and the instruments used for geologic exploration. After completing the required training, he worked on several field crews and then transferred to the geophysical section in Ponca City, Oklahoma, as a development geophysicist. He designed and built the Pelton plotter, which made possible a much improved method of curved path ray plotting. He then began work on a project which would have a great influence on the rest of his professional career. Dick was assigned to assist in the development effort of the Vibroseis System of Exploration. He worked on the design of a new and improved vibrator and also on a completely new design concept of vibrator instruments which used solid state devices instead of vacuum tubes. He was involved through all of the design, manufacture, and field testing stages of this equipment.

Vibroseis was beginning to be accepted by the geophysical industry as a viable exploration tool for data acquisition. The tool needed better equipment in order to reach the potential capability suggested by the theory. Dick perceived this as a unique opportunity; therefore, in 1968, he resigned from Conoco and in 1969 started the company that bears his name.

The company began in a very small way as most entrepreneurial ventures do. The product was good but the use of the vibroseis method needed to grow a little more. It did grow and so did Pelton Company. Pelton vibrator instruments were continually being improved to give better control of the vibrators and to give the user an ever expanding capability to change the output of the source signal. The result was that, for this highly specialized product, the Pelton Company gained and has retained a high percentage of the market for vibrator instruments. The objective has always been to supply the highest quality product and one which would be compatible with any vibrator manufactured.

In 1975 Dick "discovered" Puerto Rico and knew that he had found a way to reduce the cost of manufacturing, and at the same time, to be involved in the Caribbean lifestyle. He started another company, Pelco Caribe, which manufactured the plug-in modules used for the vibrator instruments. The venture was successful and in 1977, Dick decided to move to Puerto Rico. Having spent his early life in Florida, he enjoyed sailing, and Puerto Rico was the ideal place to pursue this pastime. He acquired a well equipped sailboat in Miami, sailed to Puerto Rico, and made many voyages in the Lesser Antilles island chain of the Caribbean.

This was a pleasant life and a reward of sorts, but Dick became restless because he wasn't building something, so he launched into a major project far different than manufacturing vibrator instruments. In 1981, he acquired some land and a motel and started to build Green Cay Marina on the US Virgin Island of St. Croix. This was to be a first-class marine and harbor facility for approximately 150 sea-going sailing vessels and motor launches that sail in the waters of the Caribbean. The marina was completed in 1983 and was filled to capacity when it was completed.

Dick Pelton has demonstrated foresight, ingenuity, and the willingness to back up his visions and convictions by risking his own resources and efforts to accomplish what he believed in. The geophysical industry has benefited for the past 23 years from the instruments that have been produced by the Pelton Company. He and the company are continuing to build on the concepts that have been successful for more than two decades.

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