Argyle Welding Supply is proud to serve the Las Cruces, El Paso and Albuquerque communities. See how our family owned business got started.
THE FOUNDERS : PATRICK & ELIZABETH WRIGHT
Growing up in a family of 13 in a room and a kitchen in Clydebank Scotland, Pat Wright always knew that his future lay in America. After surviving two nights of bombing by the Germans in the Clydebank Blitz, his poor but safe childhood was shattered. Clydebank had the shipyards and Singers Sewing Machine Factory had been turned into a munitions factory. However the Germans mistook the glistening cobblestone streets for the River Clyde, and bombed the town instead of the shipyards. The Clydebank Blitz killed over 1500 people and damaged or destroyed 25,000 homes. With his house destroyed, his family scattered, a letter arrived from the government “inviting” him to report for duty as a Royal Marine Commando.
The Royal Marine Commandos had a fife and drum band – however Captain Rogers thought a Bagpipe and Drum band would be more dynamic. So recruiting began. Pat, never one to pass up an opportunity, signed up. Seven willing volunteers started on the chanter during basic training in Scotland, and when they left Liverpool, there were seven sets of pipes waiting for them. Much to the dismay of their English companions, lessons continued in the “head.” The ship was bombed off Crete, which extended their lessons for a few weeks while repairs were made. They marched off the troop ship as a band for the first time in Aden, playing “Barren Rocks of Aden.” The story of this group of “The Seven Pipers” was later made into a BBC Radio Program. Pat was dubbed “curly.”
Being a piper did not exclude Pat from his duties on 3” mortars and he made numerous landings against the Japanese. He was on the first troop ship into Hong Kong after Japan surrendered. Later, he was sent to the New Territories to guard the border. Following the end of the war, the Pipe Band played many ceremonial events for dignitaries such as Lord Louie Mountbatten. As a Royal Marine Commando during WWII, Pat went East to India and Burma and Hong King, further from America. Yet, he knew he would see America someday.
Returning to Scotland in 1946, Pat discovered that wee Betty Gilmour had grown up, and he was “smitten.” Despite his Catholic upbringing and her strict Presbyterian background and family objections, their love could not be denied. After a Celtic wedding, a secular wedding, and a marriage by a Catholic priest, they were “well and truly married.” Pat worked at a number of jobs and eventually went to Forestry College, because a job in the Forestry came with a house. (Housing in postwar Scotland was in short supply) In Scotland today, you can still see the forests planted by these foresters in the 1950’s – 1000 seedlings a day per man in the pouring rain , truly back breaking work. (Did you believe that trees in Britain naturally grew in straight lines?). As Pat wrung out his trousers every night and hung them in front of the fire to dry, knowing they would still be wet in the morning, he knew a better life lay ahead.
Finally, in 1956, at the age of 35, Pat headed off to Canada, with Betty and two children following six weeks later. Vancouver was their eventual goal – but a few cold winters in and around Toronto was the reality. They finally managed to get into the United States – Cleveland, Ohio added two more sons to the family. Then to Grand Junction, Colorado, and another son, and to the Bay Area in California, to Denver, Colorado and finally – Albuquerque New Mexico in 1975. In those 25 years of marriage from 1950 to 1975, Pat & Betty and family moved 39 times,
At the age of 54, when most folks are contemplating retirement, Pat with Betty at his side, and their family of 5 children, staked every penny they had, and many more that they didn’t have, and started a business: Argyle Welding Supply Co, Inc.
However, with a wealth of salesmanship under his belt, and determination, Pat and Betty struggled to build their business and make New Mexico their home. After 37 years, Argyle Welding Supply Co, Inc now employs 44 folks and has locations in Albuquerque, Las Cruces, and El Paso.
While building the business in Albuquerque, Pat & Betty shared their love of Scottish music, poetry, and culture. They taught Scottish Country Dancing, and their group, The United Gaelic Dancers performed in New Mexico and old Mexico. Pat was a piper in the Coel Na Gael and City of Albuquerque Pipe Bands. Pat & Betty were patrons of the High Desert Pipes and Drums. Pat sang in the Uchtermuchty-Ecclefechan-Tijeras Canyon Quartet. As a piper, Pat performed at schools and civic functions, using bagpiping to spread his “non-smoking” message. He was President of the St Andrews Society .
Like many successful immigrants, Pat & Betty’s love for the homeland never diminished, and they never hesitated to share the best of Scotland with everyone they met. The first highland games in Albuquerque were held on a wee piece of land in the East Mountains, with a telephone pole for a caber, rocks from the field for the stone throw, and bales of hay from the neighbors – in Pat and Betty Wright’s field. Many a school child in Albuquerque and Las Cruces were introduced to the bagpipes and the benefits of not smoking by Pat Wright.