An emailer today identified himself as a former employee of the engineering firm Pritchard Corp. In 1985, Pritchard was acquired wholly by Black & Veatch, whose company history says the purchase helped Black & Veatch enter the gas, oil and chemicals field and gain major energy companies as clients.
By Derek Donovan
The Kansas City Star
The reader contacting me was taking exception to a line in a recent profile of new Black & Veatch CEO Steve Edwards. The sentence in question read:
Black & Veatch has developed a technology called PRICO thats proving to be a powerhouse in the (natural gas) marketplace.
The problem, according to my emailer, is that PRICO was originated by Pritchard before its acquisition by Black & Veatch. I did find a clipping from 1974 in The Stars library that mentions PRICO as Pritchards.
There is no longer a separate company called Pritchard today, but Black & Veatch has incorporated that companys timeline into its own. In the early 70s, Black & Veatch developed the PRICO single-mixed refrigerant process, it writes on its website, subsuming the now-defunct Pritchards achievements into its own.
Is that a problem? Its a common practice in any business that deals in mergers and acquisitions. But should journalists always trace the lineage of which parts of a companys business came from entities it later absorbed?
I think the bottom line is what makes things clear to the reader. In this case, Black & Veatch has continued to refine PRICO through the years, including after 1985. I think delving into the technologys origins might be interesting, but I dont think it would have been necessary in a single mention coming in a profile of the companys CEO. But absolutely, a story about PRICO itself would certainly have to make its specific history clear.