Forged from the Past
The history of Brown & Root Industrial Services dates back to 1919, when brothers George and Herman Brown partnered with Herman’s brother-in-law, Dan Root, to create a Texas-based construction company. Their first major jobs were road building, including a contract to rebuild four Central Texas bridges.
Herman Brown remembered as a “working man’s man” personally visited job sites throughout the year and often spent time with his employees rather than his fellow executives. George Brown was the opposite – a Brown & Root salesman. Negotiating and influencing with his outgoing personality, George’s talents were applied to acquiring new business opportunities. Upon completion of the four-bridge rebuild, they established offices in Houston, Texas, and slowly continued to build their business.
The Roaring 20s
During the 1920s, Brown & Root suffered major setbacks. Dan Root died and the Great Depression caused state projects to be scarce, so the brothers were forced to find other work. On the heels of the Great Depression, Brown & Root secured a contract with Humble Oil Company in Roanoke, Louisiana to construct a board road. This project proved significant because it gave Brown and Root exposure outside of Texas, and it would create a long-lasting relationship with Humble Oil Company, which owned a company known as Halliburton Oil Well Cementing Company.
Two years later, the company won a contract to construct Marshall Ford Dam. The dam took five years to construct, used 2 million tons of concrete, and was the largest of its kind in Texas. The project was a defining moment, establishing Brown & Root’s reputation as a heavy construction, power, and industrial company and lead to large-scale government-funded projects.
In 1940, Brown & Root was awarded a contract to build a $90 Million Naval Air Station in Corpus Christi, Texas in preparation for World War II; and in 1941, the company was approached by the U.S. Navy to build four submarine chasers.
Since Brown & Root did not have shipbuilding skills, they formed Brown Shipbuilding and got to work. By the war’s end, Brown Shipbuilding had produced 359 combat ships, 12 pursuit craft, 307 landing craft, 36 rocket-firing boats, and 4 salvage boats, with a total value of more than $500 Million.
Brown & Root emerged from the war as a major U.S. construction company. The magnitude and scope of their construction and engineering projects continued to grow.
In 1946, the company received its first overseas project and began work on its first major engineering project, a chlorine caustic plant for Diamond Alkali. It was also awarded its first pulp & paper industry work. In 1947, Brown & Root designed, constructed, and installed the first offshore oil production facility out of sight of land in the Gulf of Mexico.
During the 1950s, Brown & Root extended its work internationally establishing offices in Canada and London. Petroleum, petrochemical, and chemical industry projects were added to the portfolio. The company won a $100 Million contract from Union Carbide Corporation to design and build a polyethylene plant in Seadrift, Texas.
Into the 60s, with Herman Brown’s health suffering, the company’s future seemed uncertain. Brown & Root was approached by Halliburton Company, an oilfield services business that bought companies with expertise in the oil and gas field. The Halliburton deal was finalized shortly after Brown’s death in 1962.
Over the next three decades, Brown & Root distinguished itself as an industrial services contractor, delivering successful on-site maintenance, turnaround, and capital construction projects across the energy, industrial, power, and facility sectors.
In 1998, still a Halliburton subsidiary, Brown & Root merged with M.W. Kellogg creating KBR, one of the world’s premiere engineering, procurement, construction, and services companies. In 2006, KBR separated from Halliburton. The industrial services organization (maintenance, turnarounds, small capital projects) continued operations as KBR Industrial Services Americas.
Building the Future
In July 2015, KBR partnered with Bernhard Capital Partners (BCP), spinning off its Industrial Services Americas division to establish Brown & Root Industrial Services. Brown & Root Industrial Services established its headquarters in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The legacy Brown & Root organization became the basis of the new company’s Maintenance Division. Engineering – Capital Construction – Turnaround Services – and Specialty Industrial (soft crafts) Services capabilities were quickly added, to meet management’s stated goal of becoming “the most complete plant services organization in the business.”
Brown & Root continues to grow its resources and capabilities to serve the needs of its customers in the chemical, petrochemical, refining, pulp & paper, agricultural, and energy transition industries across North America.