March 1, 2014 marks the 99th anniversary of the birth of CECO founder Mr. Ernest G. Hotze Jr. Mr. Hotze was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma in the family’s quarters above his dad’s shoe shop. It was just seven months after the outbreak of World War I in Europe, when a kid could go to the store and buy candy and a pickle for a nickel. Growing up, Mr. Hotze would work at the shoemaker’s trade and go to school. He bought his first car, a used 1923 Model T Ford, in 1931 for $13.00.
Ernest worked in the Oklahoma oil fields as a teenager, working while he attended Oklahoma University. He graduated in 1940, and soon went to work out of Tulsa, traveling for Clark Brothers Company of Olean, New York, manufacturer of engines and compressors. Clark Brothers became Dresser-Clark and as the company grew, Mr. Hotze was transferred to Houston. While traveling, Mr. Hotze met Margaret Mary Fagan in Corpus Christi, and they were married in 1949.
Mr. Hotze was a consummate salesman responsive to his clients’ needs, and when in 1964, a customer asked for a particular valve for his compressor that Mr. Hotze’s own company could not make, he undertook to have the valves made — and that was how CECO was born.
Mr. Hotze retired from Dresser-Clark as Vice President (it would later become Dresser-Rand) and devoted full time to CECO in the 1970’s, and the CECO grew into one of the largest independent manufacturers of aftermarket compressor parts in the world, making parts of all kinds for compressors and engines of all kinds. The company now also provides pipeline services, training and emissions testing, field maintenance and repair services.
When he died on November 2, 1995, Mr. Hotze had left a legacy of eight children and many grandchildren and many friends, associates and customers who appreciated his good humor, hard work, entrepreneurial spirit and devotion to God, his family, and his extended family at CECO.
Mr. Hotze’s gravestone reads:
Newsboy, oilfield worker, petroleum engineer, super salesman, entrepreneur, inventor, handyman, political activist, benefactor, storyteller, counselor, friend, father of eight children.
We fondly cherish the memory of his many virtues and his infectious laugh. His upright deportment, integrity & enormously hugely joyful happy nature secured the esteem of all who knew him. Firm in his faith and constant in the practice of his religion weep no more; he died hoping for mercy at the Resurrection.