For Houston Sullivan, oil and gas is a family business. As a fourth generation energy businessman, his father is one of his biggest mentors and supporters, and Sullivan hopes to one day see his children drill a well with him when they become old enough to carry on the tradition.
Outside of Veritas, Sullivan serves as chair of the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers, where he helps better small independent operators by keeping regulatory costs and burdens down.
Why did you enter the oil and gas industry?
“I started working in the industry while I was in college. I am fortunate to be the fourth generation in my family to work in this great industry. My dad is still active, and it’s a privilege to get to work alongside him.”
Which of your professional achievements are you most proud of?
“Veritas 1 is an achievement I am extremely proud of. We were able to secure private equity, build an asset, complete a merger and ultimately sell the combined company. It was a challenging experience but extremely helpful in learning the business. We had a great team that worked extremely hard. I reflect and lean on that experience all of the time.”
Describe a memorable professional experience.
“I remember going out to negotiate my first surface use agreement when I couldn’t have been more green. I sat down with the landowner, and their neighbor joined us. It turns out that their neighbor was an industry legend, and I was completely out-matched. I learned several lessons that day that will stick with me forever.”
What qualities do you think are necessary for a good leader in the oil and gas industry?
“Honesty is the most important quality in my opinion. I once heard a very wise man in our industry say, ‘I can roll dice with him over the phone.’ That stuck with me because people have to know that you are going to do what you say.”
Who are your mentors?
“My dad has always been a mentor of mine both professionally and personally. About 17 years ago, he told me to follow Butch Ford around and learn from him. It was the best advice I have ever received. Butch took me under his wing and is still a man I look up to today. He knows the business backward and forward and has an ability to teach that I have never seen. I would be in a ditch somewhere if God had not put both of those guys in my life.”
What keeps you motivated and passionate about working in the oil and gas industry?
“I wake up every day thankful to be a part of an industry that provides so much for others. It’s a great industry where everyone is competing but also working together to build a better future.”
What do you think young industry members as a group have to offer that is unique to them?
“I certainly do not fall into this category, but I believe the technological advancements over the next 10 to 20 years are going to be fun to watch. I have seen enormous improvements during my career and expect that they will only continue moving forward.”
What advice would you give other young professionals in the industry and/or in your sector?
“My advice to young professionals would be to work hard and attend every networking event that you can. I think the beauty of our industry is in the relationships.”
What transformations do you think the industry must undertake for it to thrive in the future?
“The next step for our industry to thrive is to be proactive as opposed to reactive. We are facing an onslaught of opposition from climate change, ESG and governmental overreach. Although this tends to help commodity prices, it hurts the consumer. I don’t think this is a quick fix, but getting the facts out in a meaningful and productive way that would benefit everybody.”
- I’m the current chairman of the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers.
- If not working, I’m usually found on the golf course.
- I have been involved in various industry organizations in Fort Worth, Midland and Wichita Falls, Texas.