Down that Blue Highway
by Jesse Mullins
It’s a “three calendar” cafe here in Snyder, this place on 25th called Dee’s, where oilfield hands are getting an early lunch, where a guy can have chorizo-and-potato burritos and wash them down with a Sidral Mundet. And no, that’s not hooch—that’s a bottled soft drink.
Snyder. Hometown of the late, great, colorful Slingin’ Sammy Baugh, legendary local rancher, pro football immortal, and the model for actor Robert Duvall’s portrayal/interpretation of Gus McCrae, in the film version of Lonesome Dove. Snyder. Former buffalo hunter’s outpost, named after a buffalo hunter. County seat of Scurry County. Home, also, to the fast-growing (now employing nearly 1,000) oilfield services company called Globe Energy, and its youthful and individualistic leader, Troy Botts, Jr
Botts is a born and raised Snyder guy, someone who’d be at home in a three-calendar cafe. Not familiar with the calendar method of rating cafes? Find enlightenment in our sidebar on this spread.
But back to Botts and Globe. They’re just down the street from Dee’s, and PBOG‘s chat with Botts found him being just as we’d been told he is: earnest, candid, sincere, focused, and insightful.
“It’s been a learning process every day.” The softspoken Botts, who looks and even sounds a little like Audie Murphy, is sitting behind the desk in his modest office in the rambling, cobbled-together, manufactured-building headquarters. (Globe Energy is working on a new, more substantial headquarters property elsewhere here in town.) “And I am curious by nature. Always have been. I was one of those kids [he laughs] who ask too many questions. I always wanted to understand why things happen. Why things work or how things work. I’ve never been a person who just does something because he’s been told that’s the way it’s done. I ask questions, and I am still learning a lot, whether it is about banking functions or private equity or the overall growth of our business lines. The biggest thing to me is understanding why things happen and how things happen, instead of just reading your P&L. For instance, how is your P&L generated? What numbers actually go to what accounts? Maybe it is the mechanic in me, because I still consider myself a mechanic. I want to understand what makes that engine run.”
When he was starting out, nine years ago, as a guy with a single bobtail truck and a single employee, Botts might hardly have struck anyone as being particularly young. But after the spectacular nine years that have seen Globe Energy rise as one of the most dynamic firms in this part of Texas, he suddenly seems quite young for his role, though he has aged nine years during the process. He’s a family man (wife Brooke, daughter Karson and son Troy Botts III) and he carries the weight of a lot of responsibilities, but even now, Botts looks younger than his 33 years. Does he hear people remark on his age?
“I do hear it,” he admitted. “I am a younger guy, and I do see the look on some people’s faces sometimes, when I meet them and shake their hand…[he laughs]… it’s like… ‘You, huh?’ But after I have visited who somebody for 20 or 30 minutes, I feel like that goes away. I’ve always been raised to respect age. I’ve surrounded myself with a lot of great people with a lot of experience, and I am smart enough to listen. I am smart enough to learn. So I feel like that is the key. If I was young and arrogant and thought I knew everything, then, well, I probably wouldn’t be here anyway. I started Globe when I was 24. It has been almost a decade. And I went full time in the [oil and gas] business when I was 19, in 1998. So that was 14 years ago.”
A board member for Globe Energy, Steve Persons, described what he thought makes Botts successful.
“I met him probably two and a half years ago,” said Persons, with “we” referencing himself and his partner Tripp Wommack. “We’d gotten involved in the packer business [Packer Sales and Rentals] over in Snyder, Texas. We kept hearing about him. We’d gotten started in Basic [Energy Services], originally, and we’d vacated our board seats, so we were no longer in the service industry. We knew of his dad, who had been in trucking business for years. Finally one day, we got to meet Troy [Jr.], when we had lunch with him. When you meet him, you like him. He’s what I call the ‘real deal.’ Just a real good guy. You visit with him and you think—for a young man, his business principles are just great principles. What was impressive is that there are a lot of guys in the services business who, when times are good, they do real good. But Troy had done well when times were not good. Troy understands margins. He is a ‘true believer.’ The two most important things to him are his employees and his customers. He is able to balance those things. For service companies to be truly successful, they have to put both of those first. They have to balance that. It sounds crazy, yes. But the reason he is successful is that he can balance that, and so, in a time when labor is such an issue, Globe Energy does not have troubles, because from the very top on down, employees are treated like family and have an opportunity to advance. And as for customers, Troy treats them like partners. When he says something, it is for real. It comes from his upbringing. And it is reflected in how he runs his business. He’s the kind of guy I would back any day.”
Wommack and Persons have worked together for 22 years, having jointly operated a company called Southwest Royalties, and later having started Basic Energy. Eventually both men came to serve on the board of Globe Energy, with Wommack serving as chairman.
Wommack echoed Persons in his appraisal of Botts.
“He’s a wonderful manager,” Wommack said. “Third generation oil field service. Knows his stuff. Very professional. Extremely customer friendly. In fact, that is what you hear from him all the time—he is always saying, ‘How can we help you?’
“When we met Troy, we hit it off immediately. He had come through 2009 [economic downturn] and had continued to grow. And he wanted to continue, but it was getting difficult. So we merged our packer business [with Globe] and brought in equity from friends and family.”
Wommack said he was impressed with the systems that Botts had set up in Globe Energy already, before the merger. “His systems for controls and accounting were sophisticated,” Wommack said. “His knack for monitoring, safety, maintenance—really, they were the most impressive I had ever seen.
“He is very mechanical,” Wommack added. “So if you have an issue or are trying to design anything, well, he is extraordinarily bright and good at coming up with solutions. Very common sensical. I have never seen anything like it, honestly. A very smart guy.”
Botts is third-generation oil field. His grandfather owned and operated the American Vacuum Company. His father, Troy Sr., owned and operated an oilfield service company of his own: Globe Vacuum Truck Company.
“So I kind of grew up working in the service company business,” Botts said. “I would go out with them on jobs sometimes at night—safety rules not being then what they are today. We had the phone in the house that rang 24 hours a day. The company phone. And you knew to not let it ring more than so many times. So you learned about customer service—without realizing it. We had the two-way radio in the house for the trucks. So, I grew up in that environment.”
Troy Jr. spent summers as a mechanic’s helper or shop hand, washing trucks and doing various jobs. He graduated from high school in 1997 “and didn’t have money to [continue] with school. But I was good at mechanical work, so I went to school to be a mechanic. I ended up coming back here [to Snyder] in 1998 in the downturn, as Dad needed help—he’d lost a tubing tester hand and needed help running the tester. So I came back, working with him, and got married and had two kids and he grew the business back again. I ran a truck there for a while, and then the bookkeeper retired, and so I started doing our books, too. Because she’d been training me. And in 2004, I saw the opportunity to maybe go out and start something of my own.”
Scraping up what money he’d amassed, which was about enough to buy that bobtail truck and set up the business, Troy Jr. hired his helper and launched Globe Energy.
“The key to Globe the whole time has been the fact that, when I started, I was always focused on customers,” Botts said.
It wasn’t long until the service-minded outfit began making acquisitions. Small ones at first. Then larger.
“At first we were just fluid services. Just water trucks,” he said. “But in 2009 we bought a small fishing/rental tool company, and so that brought us into the fishing/rental tool business. Then in 2010—we’d had the downturn in 2009—we continued to grow. We had opened a yard in Monahans in 2009. Utilization was high, it was just that margins were really low due to the low oil price. So, into 2010 we had reached a point where I was going to either need to focus on just paying down debt and cleaning up the balance sheet or possibly bringing in a partner. I owned Globe 100 percent at the time. So it was 2010, and I had met Tripp Wommack, who had become a real good friend of mine. He and Steve Persons are kind of a team. They were the founders of Basic. They’d worked together in Southwest Royalties, which now Clayton Williams has. But Tripp founded Southwest Royalties, and they’d created Sierra Energy as a business to work on their own wells, and they grew that until they took Sierra public and changed the name to Basic Energy Services.”
Soon after came the merger between Packer Sales and Rental (Wommack and Persons) and Globe Energy, and Wommack’s appointment as chairman of Globe.
With the merger, Globe effectively entered its third business line, well completions.
“We kept adding guys to our Completion Systems division,” Botts said. “And every division was growing throughout 2010 and in 2011. We went out and raised private equity as well, with a group called Alt Point Capital, out of New York. Soon after, we acquired Excel Fishing amd Rental Tools. We also bought Arkoma Transports, in Perryton, with operations in Texas and Kansas.
They were one of the biggest fluid service companies up there. Great reputation, great people. Same as Excel. Great people came with that deal. So we bought those companies and kind of continued to grow, and shortly after that we bought Worley Equipment and Sales, as our manufacturing division, to build our own equipment. To build kill trucks [pump trucks], vacuum trucks, that sort of thing. We changed the name of Worley to Atlas Sales and Equipment.”
Odessa-based Atlas, a wholly owned subsidiary of Globe, is so named because the mythic figure of Atlas was the one who “held the globe.”
Tech Management, a chemicals company, was another acquisition. Most recently, the company acquired Stampede Oil Field Services, out of Midland, as a means of answering their general construction and automation needs.
“But the logic behind the acquisitions, and the common ‘voice’ behind all of those companies, is our focus on production-related service businesses,” Botts said. “We are trying to focus on the production side of the business—[the work that goes on] after the wells are drilled, and maintaining them through the life of the wells. The idea is to focus on businesses that stay busy when the rig count isn’t as high, isn’t at peak levels. Just from working with my dad and with Tripp, we all just kind of feel like that’s the less-volatile side of the industry. We all know commodity prices fluctuate, but we feel like that is the stablest of the areas—the service business. Staying on the production side.
Botts remains the single-largest individual stakeholder in Globe, despite the capital investments from private equity and the numerous mergers.
J.W. Brake, president of Odessa-based Rig Works, described Botts as a young man who is mature beyond his years.
“He is a strong, honest, Christian man,” Brake said. “He has very strong moral values. I know that with most companies the body is reflective of the head, so with the morality Troy has and exhibits, he is a great leader of their company and he has a brilliant vision. He’s hard working, industrious, highly intelligent. Our company [Rig Works] is really blessed because of the relationship we have with Globe. They extended a contract with us to provide equipment. It’s a blessing to work with Troy and the group he has assembled. He has hand picked his management team and I would say they are far superior to any other company’s of that size.”
Troy’s father, Troy Botts, Sr., said he is “extremely proud of the way he [Troy Jr.] takes care of his people.”
“We raised both our kids to be good Christians. Both are honest and good people. Our job is to make this a better place while we are here. Troy is an honest, hard-working young man. I am real proud of his honesty. I always told him, ‘Be self-motivated—don’t wait for someone to tell you something. Hard work creates good luck.’”
Asked if he could recall any event from Troy’s boyhood that revealed something of his personality, Troy Sr. recalled a time when his son was seven years old.
“We were getting ready to go on vacation, and I told him to go outside and load the firewood into the back of the pickup. There was about a quarter-cord of it. When you’re seven, that’s a lot of wood. Well, when I went out there a while later, he had his two buddies out there doing the loading,” Troy Sr. said with a laugh. “He was directing traffic and giving orders.”
On a more serious note, he added, “I always taught him that the worst thing you can do is not make a decision. Get a handful of whatever and make things work.”
Randy Alarcon, a longtime (for still-young Globe) employee, described Botts as “a good man, very family-oriented, loyal to his people, smart, not afraid to take chances.”
Alarcon, who has worked at Globe Energy for 8 years, started as a truck driver and has advanced to become a regional manager in the Fluids division. “I’ve been from the bottom to the top and I wouldn’t work for anybody else,” Alarcon said. “Ive seen him help people with funerals, family problems, and—if they are in financial trouble [with money]. He’s always willing to help people and work with them. That’s what I have grown to love about Globe. They are very family-oriented.”
Botts stresses it constantly.
“With our focus [being] on our customers and on our employees, that’s how we built our culture—it’s a family culture,” Botts said. “But it is a culture based on ethics and moral values and doing the right thing. And…[he pauses] on being… happy. I mean, we have a happy place to work. We all have to work so much of our life, so if you are miserable at work, your life is pretty much miserable. But if you are able to be happy and smile at work, that’s what it’s all about. It can still be a tough job you’re doing. You might be cleaning up an oil leak. I’m not saying you are happy when you are out there squeegee-ing up that oil, but overall, our people know that people care about them. I always [ask people to] apply this challenge: I know we are getting larger and larger, but when I find a Globe employee anywhere, whether working in Kansas as a swamper, or Midland as a V.P., or East Texas as a well service hand, or Monahans as a truck driver—wherever you find them, when you see one, ask them, ‘What do you think about Globe Energy?’ And I am confident that they are going to tell you that it is a good place to work. I am not going to guarantee you that they might not say, ‘I’ve been driving a truck too long—I want to be a supervisor.’ (laughs) And we do want people with that kind of motivation. But I am confident of how they will respond.
“The Permian Basin is really short on employees. And of course we [Globe] need employees in the Permian Basin. We are always looking. But I feel we have not had to face it as much as some of our competition. And I attribute that to the culture.
“The best recruitment tool you can have is a happy employee. Anywhere. All these guys [out in the field] work side by side with the competition. My guys work next to the competition every day. And they talk and they visit and when our guy says, ‘Hey, this is a good place to work,’ well, that draws people. And I think it helps us on acquisitions too. When we look at acquisitions, we are only going to consider an acquisition that we think fits with us, that has our kind of moral values and a good culture with their employees.
“The simple things are overlooked so much,” he added. “Like taking pride in people saying, ‘They are good people.’ That, to me, means more than any dollar amount. And that is part of why we have grown [organically, through recruitment]. We have had people coming to us. And that has made it easier. But it has not been easy—I am not going to say that.”
Easy or not, that’s how this service business (and trucking business) rolls. With their trademark blue trucks and blue hardware. Making friends, making lasting ties… and moving right on down that blue highway.