Big "6" Founders (From Left to Right) Founder Buddy Andres sons: Don Andres; George Andres; Jim Andres; and Chester B. Benge, Jr. Big "6" President.

History Rig


Weldon Smith


In 1945, the original owners of the firm were H. Buddy Andres, President, J. Brown Cutbirth, and Walter A. Stockard.  The drilling trio named their company after George S. "Big 6" Sullivan, a drilling superintendent for Goldrus Drilling Company who was originally in the deal, but who chose after only a few weeks to leave.   After four years as president of the company, Buddy Andres realized that he was more interested in being a drilling and production manager than being the company president so he became Vice President and concentrated on operations.

In December 1948, Weldon Smith, who was an Assistant Sales Manager for Hunt Tool Company in Houston, was offered the position of President by W. A. Stockard.  Smith accepted the position and moved into his offices in the Oil and Gas Building downtown Houston.

Chester B. Benge, Jr. was first employed by Big "6" in 1955, as a combination secretary/bookkeeper and management trainee. He became Vice President in February, 1970 and President, February, 1979.

Mike Stone started work for Big "6" as a Roughneck in 1976. He worked for Big "6" and several other contractors for the next five years as a Roughneck, Driller, and Toolpusher before rejoining Big "6" in 1981 as Assistant to the President. He was appointed Vice President in 1989.

Jack Burnett has been working in the petroleum industry over the last 38 years. He began his career with Big "6" in 1981 as a driller. In 1982, Mr. Burnett became a Toolpusher and in 1983 the Drilling Superintendent.

Big "6" Drilling Company has drilled wells for many oil companies, but the highest percentage of its business is with independent operators. In the past 63 years, Big "6" has drilled more than 3,400 wells in Texas and Louisiana for over 1,500 different customers. This wide exposure is a major factor in the company's success.

Big "6" enjoys the dedication and loyalty of a group of 45 employees. Many employees that serve in different capacities have been with the firm for more than 15 years.


Mr. Smith was President of Big "6" Drilling from 1949 until February, 1979, and then Chairman until his death in 2004. He was a graduate of the University of Texas with a degree in Business Administration. With a sales background, Mr. Smith naturally spent much of his time devoted to marketing.

Mr. Smith was for many years on the Board of Directors for the I.A.D.C. (International Association of Drilling Contractors) and served on the National Petroleum Council. He was active in Grace Presbyterian Church and a member of the Board of Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary for over 17 years. Mr. Smith served in several capacities with the Y.M.C.A., the Downtown Exchange Club, and numerous other civic organizations.