H.M. Holloway is a classic Western American success story. At the dawn of the Great Depression, Harvey Holloway found steady work as a night watchmen for the Richfield Oil Corporation in Lost Hills, California. Walking the rugged terrain he noticed outcroppings of a reflective white material and watched a few local farmers carry off wagon loads of the mineral to put on their fields.
Harvey’s curiosity prompted him to collect samples of the material and have it analyzed in a Bakersfield lab. He learned that the substance was calcium sulfate dihydrate, also known as gypsum, a mineral known to add calcium, neutralize salts and improve water penetration in soils. The local farmers clearly saw a benefit to yield when they applied gypsum, motivating Harvey to seek to acquire a surface lease from Richfield so he could effectively supply the local farmers.
In May of 1932, Harvey Holloway leased a 40-acre parcel and launched his gypsum-mining operation with little more than a pick, a shovel and a wagon. Holloway quickly came up with a way to show, not just tell, the benefits of gypsum. Shortly after acquiring the Richfield lease, Holloway approached a farmer whose 40-acre alfalfa field ran right along Highway 46, a main thoroughfare in the area. Holloway convinced the farmer to let him add gypsum to just half of his acreage. Soon after, Holloway’s marketing intuition paid off. The farmer’s yield doubled on the half with gypsum, and the lush growth in a side-by-side comparison was evident to everyone traveling on 46. News of this valuable soil amendment traveled quickly, and Holloway was in business.
Harvey Holloway invested in surface leases for many years, and as revenues increased, he was also able to purchase land from Richfield eventually leading to over 2,200 acres owned in fee and 800 acres leased at the Lost Hills site. Today, the company that started with a pick and shovel has grown into a thriving business in multiple different industries consisting of what is now known as the Holloway Group.