Tulsa Women Turn Idea Into Booming Business

Wednesday, February 23rd 2011, 5:53 pm
By: News On 6

Tara Vreeland, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- A small Tulsa company is attracting big business.

Tiger Natural Gas is unique because it is both a Native American and women-owned business. The standout combination caught Walmart's attention, which helped Tiger's business grow.

Lori Nalley worked for a marketing company when she got the idea to start up her own natural gas business.

"I am a little bit Muskogee Creek," she said. "My grandfather's name was Jeff Tiger."

In 1991, in a spare bedroom of her home with her two sisters, Tracy and Debbie, Tiger Natural Gas was born.

"Very first bid we bid on we received and we were really off going then," she said. "It just seems like everything just happened."

In 1999, Nalley contacted Walmart, hoping to interest them in buying their natural gas from the third party.

"They actually listened to me," she said. "It took a letter; it was just a letter from the beginning. We started supplying them and have been able to reduce their gas costs."

Walmart says its spent $9.2 billion with women and minority owned businesses as of January 2010.

"We've been able to see some significant cost savings working with Tiger, even in Arkansas, 10 percent of energy savings so far this year on some of the stores they've been able to supply us with," Phillip Keene, with Walmart, said.

"If you are a supplier of Walmart, it sends a message out to other people buyers like 'oh they are someone we should look at. If Wal-Mart's buying from them, you know," Lori said.

Tiger employs about 40 people, with offices in Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Colorado.

"Lots of times you really have to overcome the perception of being a woman because especially being in the energy business," said Lori.

Tiger Natural Gas will celebrate 20 years of business this May.