“Komatsu is the best in the business for excavators”
GW Thomas comes from a long line of
entrepreneurs. His grandfather – George
Thomas, who he’s named after – moved to
Oklahoma in 1902, before it was a state. Raised
in the cattle industry, George bought and
rented land for livestock operations. He also
ran a general store just outside of Chickasha as
well as a grain elevator.
George operated the businesses through
the Dust Bowl and Great Depression days
when customers often had little, if any, money.
Occasionally, he accepted land and mineral
rights as payment. George’s son Harper, GW’s
father, eventually took over. As the oil industry
began to blossom in Oklahoma, he started
“Men would come around looking for leases,
and I was intrigued by their maps,” said GW.
“I learned from my dad, and after college, I
went to work for an individual who taught me
a lot about buying and selling oil properties.
Eventually, my wife, Bertha, and I started our
own company, called GB Energy, Inc.”
GW also maintains the family legacy in the
cattle industry. He and Bertha own and operate
GB Ranch, which has a 300-head Angus cow
herd and a 700-head stocker/grower operation.
They also grow wheat on part of their land.
“We have what we call permanent-resident
cows that we breed and get a calf crop from each
year,” explained GW. “Additionally, we buy cattle,
bring them in and grow them to a certain weight,
then either sell them to a feedlot or market them
directly through auction. A lot of people ask me
why I continue to deal with cattle when the energy
business has been so good for many years. I
always tell them that I grew up with dirt under my
nails and in my blood. I can’t give it up.”
Excellent equipment, superior service
Throughout the years, GW and Bertha
purchased land nearby when it became available
in order to expand their ranch. With the help
of Operator Juan Lopez, they are clearing trees,
building ponds and reshaping the landscape of
the new acres.
“Much of what we purchased was neglected
and overgrown, so our focus right now is making
it productive,” said GW. “Cleaning it up, and
an aggressive spraying and fertilizing program
clears the weeds and opens additional acres for
grass that can be used for feeding cattle.”
Clearing and grading are done with a
Komatsu D39EX-23 dozer and PC170LC-11
excavator equipped with a mechanical thumb.
The PC170, which GB Ranch bought a few
months ago, replaced an older PC160 that
Thomas purchased used from Kirby-Smith
Machinery in 2011. All were acquired with the
help of Territory Manager Brad Howard.
“For many years, we used a dozer to clear,
and I really didn’t like how it gouged the land
and mixed in so much dirt with the trees and
brush,” recalled GW. “Some pipeline workers
told me that using an excavator would solve
the problem. They suggested contacting
Kirby-Smith because Komatsu is the best in the
business for excavators, and Kirby-Smith backs
them with outstanding service. I found that to
be the case on both accounts. One of the best
days I ever had was when I met Brad.”
GB Ranch takes down trees and pops out
brush with the PC170LC, then works to
smooth and shape the ground with the D39EX.
“Komatsu’s reliability is outstanding,” GW
stated. “It is tremendous peace-of-mind to
know that we can depend on it to perform day
in and day out without major breakdowns.”
Kirby-Smith Machinery covers routine
services for the first three years or 2,000 hours
under the Komatsu CARE program on the
Tier 4 machines at GB Ranch. Kirby-Smith
tracks the machines’ hours through
KOMTRAX, then contacts GW to set up a
convenient time for one of Kirby-Smith’s
certified technicians to perform the work.
“Komatsu CARE is a great benefit that
ensures services are done on time,” said GW.
“Kirby-Smith has always done a great job for
us. If we have an issue, they respond right
away and often take care of it the same day. I’m
certainly not a large customer, but Kirby-Smith
treats me like I am.”
Focus on management
GW says that GB Ranch is about the right size.
He and Bertha are not necessarily interested in
adding more acres.
“Now our focus is on continuous improvement
of the land we have,” Thomas said. “In the
next few years, we plan to have it all cleared
and shaped to a point that maximizes grass
production. As long as we have Komatsu
machines, we will call on Kirby-Smith to take care
of any equipment needs.”