Ever wonder if you can get rich by being a welder? Become a millionaire? A billionaire, even? The answer is Yes. This is the story of Kelcy Warren of Energy Transfer Partners who got his start welding alongside his dad. If it could happen to him, it could happen to you, too.
From humble beginnings
Kelcy Warren got his start when he was just a teenager, working on the pipelines of his dad's modestly sized company as a welder. Today, he is worth more than $3 billion. This is not the story of computer geek who sold his game to Google and became a millionaire overnight, but instead of a determined man from East Texas who through hard work and perseverance made the Forbes 400 list.
Warren was born in Gladewater, Texas (East Texas), he grew up knowing the value of a dollar. His father was a field hand for Sun Pipe and never made more than $21,000 a year, but it was from his dad that Warren learned his work ethic. In fact, his dad had to supplement his income with a paper route six days a week.
Warren was a letterman in high school who went on to the University of Texas at Arlington, but this is where the Cinderella story gives away. He did not get his master's degree and go on to work for a large oil company. In fact, he didn't get his degree at all. Truth is, he flunked out altogether.
“I didn’t go to class,” says Warren. “Dad sat me down and said, ‘Son, you’re going to do what I’ve done. You’re going to work in the field for Sun Pipeline, and if you want, you can go to night school at Kilgore Junior College.’ I grew up in a hurry.”
But that’s when Warren, the former welder, turned his life around. He did his year in junior college then returned to UTA where he graduated with high marks.
After college, he landed a job with Lone Star Gas. “Lone Star paid me $1,333 a month, which was $16,000 a year. I felt I was rich,” says Warren, who worked for Lone Star for three years before marrying and moving to Midland. This was Warren’s first taste of the Permian Basin, where wealthy oilmen drive around in Cadillacs and where Rolexes. Warren knew right then and there which direction he wanted to go.
Warren’s rise to the top
Warren returned to Dallas and began working for Endevco. He stayed with the company for ten years, even as the oil business fell on hard times. The industry might have busted, but Warren saw it as the perfect time to begin acquiring troubled companies. It was sometime later that he came to be acquainted with Energy Transfer Partners, the company that would change his life.
Warren now owns more than just one company. He now owns Energy Transfer Partners, Energy Transfer Equity, and Regency Energy Partners. The recent energy boom has helped him grow his companies to over 13,000 employees which includes hundreds of welders.
Warren realized his dream and more, and all from humble beginnings back in East Texas as a welder.