Dave True: 'A consummate entrepreneur'

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

Dave True was in the business of starting businesses.

When trucks transporting company rigs became costly, True created a trucking company by pooling any trucks in operation at various family businesses to lend their services to others. The endeavor spawned Black Hills Trucking, a trucking company still doing business today.

In 1953, True started Tool Pushers Supply Co. to get better rates on supplies from major retailers, which would not grant discounts to True as an independent oil producer. The company will celebrate its 60th anniversary in the oil supply business this year, said one of True's sons, Hank.

Born Henry Alphonso True Jr., he died in 1994. Known as Dave, True is among a handful of Wyoming men and women honored as part of the inaugural class of the Wyoming Business Hall of Fame, which recognizes Wyomingites whose business experiences have had an impact on the world or on the state and its communities. Honorees include W. Edwards Deming, Clarene Law, James Cash Penney, Homer Scott and True.

A 'consummate entrepreneur'

Brent Hathaway, former dean of the University of Wyoming College of Business, whose brainchild the Hall of Fame was, said he considered True to be a consummate entrepreneur.

"He has an incredible legacy of creating dozens of companies now that are operating today," Hathaway said. "He was a big-picture leader. He was able to anticipate needs."

True, like many entrepreneurs, was wired to see opportunities where others didn't, Hathaway said.

Wyoming Business Alliance President Bill Schilling said True was an individual who, no matter how busy he was, would return phone calls within 24 hours.

"He was a true conservative," Schilling said. "[He] felt that entrepreneurship should be promoted and that risk-taking was good."

A family man

When True's son Dave thinks about his father, passion comes to the front of his mind.

"He was extremely loyal to the people with whom he worked," said the younger Dave True, now a senior partner in the True companies.

But a slightly less-known reality of the elder True was his commitment to family, he said.

"Although he worked literally before sunup to well past sundown, he always came home for dinner in the evenings," he said. "Once everything was done, and all the dishes were put away, he’d head back to the office in Casper."

True always sat at the head of the table and rarely missed one of his children's sporting events.

Thea True-Wells, a granddaughter of Dave True, said her grandfather was always available. No matter who was on the other end of the telephone or what important papers he was reading at the office, True-Wells said, True was always attentive to his grandchildren.

"I did not know my grandfather as the businessman, only as my grandpa," True-Wells said. "Whenever we came to see him, whether at the office or at his home, he stopped everything and focused on us, his grandkids. He always had time for us."

Hank True, another of True's sons and also a senior partner in the family's businesses, recalls his father as "the consummate optimist."

"He drilled an awful lot of dry holes," Hank True said. "These were not the desired outcomes, but they were the outcome. So therefore he just went on to the next one."

Casper resident Kyle True, grandson of Dave True, said True was quiet, but very kind. As Kyle True grew up in Casper, his grandfather was constantly hosting extended families or guests on the family ranch near Wheatland.

True recalls the career advice his grandfather gave him in college, when he was considering a degree in petroleum engineering.

"I had heard a lot of people say that we weren't going to find enough oil," Kyle True said. One day, the younger True heard, the oil was going to run out. Was getting a degree in petroleum engineering a bad idea?

The elder True took a deep breath before responding, Kyle True said.

"He said, 'Well, you know, I don't know what the future is going to hold. But they sure told me the same thing in the 1930s. So I wouldn't worry about it.'" he said.