Lawson Crain
32

Director of Business Development, Cogent Midstream, Dallas
9 FortyUnder40 Crain, Lawson

Though Lawson Crain is sometimes mistaken in appearance for his twin brother, who works for a Houston-based minerals acquisition company, there’s no mistaking his approach to industry relationships and getting deals done.

Currently the director of business development for Cogent Midstream, Crain has “always unapologetically sought to maintain a customer-based focus and create value for those customers.” And so far, his approach has paid off, with Cogent’s gathering and processing volumes in the southern Midland Basin having doubled since he joined the midstream operator.

Oil and gas heritage

“My family has operated a private E&P company in East Texas since my great grandfather, Rogers Lacy, drilled his first well in the East Texas Oil Field in 1932, the Lawson Lacy No. 2A.

“I take great pride in both my great grandfather’s tenacity as a true, early wildcatter in this industry and my family’s ability to continue to operate as a private E&P company for almost 90 years in an ever-changing industry. Continuing that legacy inspired me to enter the industry.”

Career beginnings

“My first job out of college was with Energy Transfer Partners as a commercial operations analyst in Dallas. They offered me a unique experience early in my career to participate in a commercial operations rotation.

“I had the opportunity to sit with various groups including pipeline scheduling, natural gas marketing, gas contracts and field operations with the sole goal of learning the ropes of the natural gas pipeline industry. That early opportunity to learn and gain diverse experience has shaped my career for the better.”

A challenging build-out

“The Cogent Intrastate Pipeline (CIP) project required significant creativity to achieve our desired goals.

“Cogent’s objectives were to add at least one more residue gas pipeline, to maintain operational flexibility, to secure a diversified mix of index price exposure and to avoid adding significant long term take-or-pay commitments. All of these goals were achieved by building the 25-mile CIP lateral.

“We were tasked with getting all our customers on board with the project in a month which meant a lot of complex meetings and conversations around the value of the project. Through our hustle and close communication, our customers saw the benefit of added optionality and were universally supportive of the CIP project.”

Laser focus

“Having a keen and thorough understanding of contract details and a laser focus on new projects earned me a seat at the boardroom table early in my career. That opportunity afforded me significant exposure to the individuals who make the decisions that shape the companies I have worked for over the years.”

Advice to young professionals

“Do not be afraid to ask questions. It sounds cliché, but those in leadership positions notice individuals who are curious and exhibit a willingness to admit that they do not know everything.

“Never take a relationship you gain in this industry for granted. Oil and gas is a remarkably small industry. You never know when you will cross paths with someone with whom you may have had a brief interaction in the past. How you carry yourself in these seemingly small interactions can be a great asset to you down the road.” 

Professional goals

“My short-term goal is to continue to grow Cogent’s gathering and processing system through our customer-focused approach to creating value.

“My long-term goal is to continue to grow and develop into a professional capable of leading a large team in the natural gas pipeline industry.”

The new generation

“Creativity and willingness to think outside of the box [are unique to younger professionals.] The past few years have brought unparalleled competition within the natural gas gathering and processing space. Earning business requires innovative solutions. Much of that innovation is driven by young leaders who are not afraid to try something new.”

“The past few years have brought unparalleled competition within the natural gas gathering and processing space. Earning business requires innovative solutions.”