Aug 28, 2019
You might say James “Jim” Justiss III was born with oil in his blood. His grandfather, James “Jick” Justiss Sr. started out as a muleskinner in the 1920s, moving oil and gas equipment in South Arkansas during the El Dorado boom. Jick was noticed by legendary Texas oilman H.L. Hunt, and would end up working for Hunt for many years managing his field operations. With that experience and a partner, Jick Justiss founded the Justiss-Mears Oil Company in Jena in 1946. The business thrived over the years and eventually his son James Justiss Jr. began working for the company — first as roughneck and toolpusher and later as president. Times were good during the late 1970s: two key acquisitions (Baker Tank Company and Altech) brought new oilfield vessel manufacturing capacity online and the company had 28 active drilling rigs. In 1980, Jick Justiss passed away and the Mears family opted to sell their share of the business, which was renamed Justiss Oil Company. The crash that rocked the industry in 1982 was a major challenge, but Jim Justiss Jr. managed to keep the business on track. Then, in 1990, Jim Justiss III joined the company as a geologist, eventually serving as VP of operations for many years. In 2013, he was named president, while his father became chairman of the board.