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Brumley Looks Back on 30 Years in Oil

I. Jon BrumleyIn his 30-year career, I. Jon Brumley, BBA ’61, has founded six different oil and gas companies, all of which listed on the New York Stock Exchange. The most recent firm was Encore Acquisition, which he founded with his son, Jonny Brumely. In 2005, Forbes magazine named Brumley and his son Entrepreneurs of the Year. He also led the merger of Cooks and Fort Worth Children’s hospitals in 1985. Brumley was chairman of the Texas State Board of Education and has been active in educational causes and oversight since 1980. He has an MBA degree from Wharton.

Brumley will be the keynote speaker at the McCombs Alumni Network’s 6th Annual Alumni Business Conference, Feb, 24-25, 2011.

How would you describe your experience as a student at McCombs?
My experience at UT and McCombs was wonderful. I majored in fraternity the first two years and got serious the last two years. [Legendary Longhorns football coach Darrell Royal] D. Royal and I arrived together, in 1957. We beat OU my sophomore year and the program has steadily improved—as has my degree. McCombs gets better and better, which actually makes me look kind of smart. I enjoyed intramural athletics, from water basketball, football and volleyball. I worked selling men’s clothes for four years, and the more hours I worked, the better my grades.

What are you most proud of in your career so far?
Starting a successful company with my son Jonny Brumley (also a McCombs graduate) and now working on the board of the company, Enduro, that he has founded

How have you seen the oil and gas industry change over the years?
Technology is wonderful. 3D seismic has gotten light years better, horizontal drilling has made some formations economic that we never would have dreamed could make money—shale plays for instance. But the most important is the advent of computers. Only the very large companies were using computers for economic modeling in 1967. By 1970, we were all using computers. It is magic. We have gone from basic machine language, to basic programs, to not knowing or caring what the language is.

What do you love about your job? What’s the most challenging aspect?
I love the small- to medium-sized company in the oil and gas industry. It is the most aggressive, do-it-now industry imaginable.  Any size group can compete with the major oil companies. We have the technical capability, the availability of capital and just as good, if not better ideas as any of the majors. I can come to work and work on an idea, work to raise capital or implement a plan. I love to build companies and to work with smart, aggressive people.

What keeps you up at night?
Worrying. I am a worrier. My wife says that I maintain worry lists in my mind. So the well never runs dry; I just pull the next one to the top. My partner at [oil company] XTO, Bob Simpson, claimed that I could not stand an unsolved problem. If they told me about a problem, I had to immediately try to solve it.

What was your first job? What did you learn from it?
I was training to be an actuarial consultant in Philadelphia. My boss was tough and stayed tough. He made me focus, polish my skills, and learn to communicate orally and verbally. It was great training.  I believe Easterners do a better job of training than we do.

What upside have you experienced during this recession?
Our industry has not felt this recession like other industries; but we have had our down cycles. Down cycles teach you how to behave. If you are caught with too much debt in a down cycle, you have to sit out a cycle. That is ugly.

What do you hope to communicate with your keynote speech at the alumni conference?
I hope to communicate the importance of business plans and how they evolve. I may talk some about public companies. My career has been with public companies and I have enjoyed that market. I am best “off the cuff” so I hope we have time for some questions and I hope students will be there.

What keeps you busy outside of business?
My wife and I (mostly her) have a foundation that works with children age five and under that live around the five lowest performing elementary schools in Fort Worth. The program encourages parents to read aloud to their children. She has given away over 300,000 hard back books to these children. The impressive part is that it is in a setting involving both the child and the parent—she doesn’t just stand on the corner giving away books.

 I try to stay physically fit and train for sprint triathlons and bicycle rides like the Hotter-N-Hell. At age 71, you do not have to be fast to place. Just show up and finish—you may be first.

Comments

#1 I WAS A FRATERNITY BROTHER OF

I WAS A FRATERNITY BROTHER OF JON BRUMLEY. HIS TWO OTHER BROTHERS WERE ALSO FIJIS. ALL THREE WERE OUTSTANDING MEN AND ALL UT GRADUATES OF WHICH UT SHOULD BE EXTREMELY PROUD. CARL BRUMLEY THE OLDEST OF THE BRUMLEY BOYS NOT HAS A GRANDSON HEADED FOR UT. A GREAT ARTICLE ON A TRULY OUTSTANDING UT ALULM.

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