For Richard Cole, a senior project manager for TC Energy in Charleston, W.Va., his father’s footsteps led him straight into the pipeline industry.
“My father worked as a mechanic on airplanes in the service. He could fix anything, a bike, car or motorcycle, anything. He would just tear into it and fix it. He helped build our Flat Top Compressor Station near Beckley, West Virginia,” said Cole.
“He started working on engines in the field for United Fuel Gas back in 1947, so he would have been 21 years old. He just had this ability to always fix stuff, knew how things worked. He liked to work with his hands. I adopted that, too – liking to work outside and being hands-on.”
Cole mirrored his father’s work ethic at Columbia Gas working all four summers during his college years. He worked two years at a compressor station, one year in a pipeline field office and another at the Charleston office.
After college, he started in the business with Tennessee Gas Pipeline, then a division of Tenneco, in Houston, Texas for two years. “I loved every minute of it. That was 1978 to ‘80, so everything was happening offshore. I spent a fair amount of time on helicopters, platforms and lay barges. It was an exciting time to be exposed to that part of the industry,” said Cole.
He then took a job with Columbia Gas, now a part of TC Energy, in 1980. Cole said that he is fortunate to have found a career and a company he’s enjoyed for so long, and credits his father, whose career spanned 43 years in the industry.
Senior Project Manager for TC Energy in Charleston, W.Va.
In his role as a project manager, he’s traveled across the United States and many trips to the field to help with needs there. “I try to help Operations to either upgrade facilities or move more gas,” he said.
“I’ve worked several years completing projects in the Capital Maintenance Program and the last five years I’ve helped with major projects like Leach XPress and Mountaineer XPress,” two of TC Energy’s newest Appalachian pipelines. “It’s just so unbelievable what we’ve accomplished in the last three years alone. For example, we doubled our horsepower from 1 million to 2 million,” Cole said.
“The industry has been really good to me. I remember reading an article when I was a young engineer that there was only enough gas in the United States to last 20 years. I was 21 and thought I’d at least get past half my career before the gas plays out. It’s now 42 years later, and we have more gas since the Marcellus (shale gas field) than we’ve ever had before,” he said. “The next 30 years should be equally good, too. It’s definitely been a good career for me.”