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Chris, Bobbie at Otis Duncanson (at 18 months)

85 Years of Water Service to the Community

OAKHURST–Happy 85th Anniversary to Walt Bannon Drilling.

In today’s world, business longevity often means 20 years. Eighty years is unheard-of. But 85? Unbelievable.

But that’s what Walt Bannon Drilling celebrates this month. Not only that, but it’s a family-owned and operated business that traces its lineage back three generations. Owner Chris Duncanson is the grandson of Walt Bannon and the son of Russell and Sunny Duncanson.

Chris has been working in the family-owned water business for 30 years. Chris and his wife Bobbie purchased the business five years ago from Sunny and Russell, which allowed his parents to finally retire.

Chris, Bobbie and Otis Duncanson

In addition to family members, the company now employs several full and part-time employees between office, pump, and drilling. On average, the firm drills 400 feet in a day with a two-man drill crew.

Originally, Walt’s wife Juanita ran the office, and their kids were put to work early on. Youngest daughter Sunny helped in the office after school, weekends and summers.

“I am very proud of what my grandfather and father have done and have allowed me to do,” says Chris. “Every day I get to go do what they did. I pull pumps that my dad installed in the 1980s and the customer will be there and tell me a story about when my father was installing that same pump.”

Or, he says, when he deepens an old well from the 1960s that Walt drilled and Chris knows that the last time someone was drilling on that well, it was over 40 years ago, and it was his grandfather standing in the same spot, running the same type of machine.

Asked for some statistics, Bobbie says, “The most gallons per minute we have ever ‘hit’ was 300-plus, and the deepest well drilled was 1,500 feet.”

Few members of the Eastern Madera County community who own wells can claim that they haven’t utilized Walt Bannon Drilling services in some form or another. If Madera County can claim to have “institutions,” Walt Bannon qualifies. Early on, Walt saw the value in accurate recording keeping and well-logged information, and today the company says it holds the most documented information on local wells and water systems available, with records dating to the early 1950s.

As Bobbie Duncanson states, “When someone buys a piece of property, drilling a new well is one of the first steps in the developmental process. This is a very exciting and wonderful experience. We take so much honor in being a part of people’s dreams coming true.”

During a drought unfortunately wells do go dry. We do our absolute best to turn this sometimes-terrible news into a good experience. The economy effects our company much more than a drought does.  We have had a small increase in wells going dry during the summer.

Bobbie Duncanson, second from right, accepts award for Oakhurst Area Chamber of Commerce 2018 Business of the Year for Walt Bannon Drilling.

As a measure of their value to the community, Walt Bannon Drilling was named Oakhurst Area Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year in 2018.

Walt Bannon Drilling takes pride in this mountain community and the surrounding counties where their services are provided. You can often see Chris and Bobbie out and about volunteering at many community events or sponsoring a fundraiser. Chris and the valued employees at Walt Bannon Drilling work tirelessly to provide 24-hour emergency service day or night. Chris and Bobbie look forward to the future of Walt Bannon Drilling and continuing the first-rate service they provide.

The most important thing to Chris and Bobbie is the quality of work that Walt Bannon Drilling provides. Awards aside, both Chris and Bobbie are lifetime members of the community and cite a real commitment to serving its water needs far into the future.

The Duncansons affirm, “Our favorite part of the business is providing water to our beloved mountain community.”

Previous Walt Bannon Stories here and here. Photos courtesy of Walt Bannon Drilling and Sierra News Online.

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Sierra News Online

Sierra News Online