Fort Worth oilman credits community in latest honor

By A. Lee Graham

Few oilmen turn heads more than Jon Brumley, a Fort Worth maverick who’s pioneered more than a few industry successes. From co-founding Cross Timbers Oil Co. to drilling his share of oil and gas wells, Brumley has a reputation for success. But what brings him the most joy is making a difference in the community he calls home. That’s what makes his latest recognition so sweet. “It’s great to be recognized,” said Brumley, 75, looking forward to receiving Fort Worth Business Executive of the Year honors at the Oct. 2 Fort Worth Business Hall of Fame dinner and awards reception at the Fort Worth Club. Proceeds from the event, in its 45th year, help fund Texas Wesleyan University’s Thomas H. Law scholarships for business students. For Brumley, it’s the latest in a long line of awards and accolades. Forbes magazine named the oilman and his son Jonny Entrepreneurs of the Year in 2005. Jon Brumley was inducted into the Petroleum Museum Hall of Fame in 2011, was named an Oil & Gas Investor Legend the same year, and was an Exchange Club Golden Deeds honoree in 2012. Brumley has done much to earn such accolades. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Texas in 1961, the Pampa native earned an MBA from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. Brumley landed work as a risk analyst with Southlake Royalty Co. in Fort Worth in 1967, starting what would be a storied, eventful career. He co-founded Cross Timbers Oil Co. in 1986. The company was later renamed XTO Energy Inc. before Exxon Mobil Corp. purchased the firm for $36 billion after Brumley and his son formed Encore Acquisitions Co. Encore was acquired by Denbury Resources Inc. in Plano in 2010. In 1991, he and his wife, Becky, formed Red Oak Foundation Inc. to provide four-year scholarships for students planning to become Texas public school teachers. Six years later, that purpose expanded to provide books to disadvantaged children. Jon and Becky Brumley have provided thousands of children’s books to families in need and funded many scholarships. But his philanthropy and community activism didn’t stop there. Brumley also helped eliminate the then-mandated Fort Worth Independent School District busing court order in 1980 while serving on a committee overseeing that outcome. Four years later, he was appointed by Gov. Mark White to serve as chairman to the Texas Board of Education. These days, Brumley is a member of the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo Executive Committee and the Texas Coalition for Excellence in Higher Education, of which he is a founding member. Brumley shared his passion for education and Fort Worth in a recent phone interview with the Fort Worth Business Press.

Last we spoke, you had just received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Texas Exes, the UT alumni association. You’ve kept busy since then. Tell me about Bounty Minerals LLC. Is it the same company as Bounty Investments, just under a different name? It’s different. But generally, it is a partnership that we put together to buy minerals in West Virginia and Pennsylvania: the Utica [Shale] play. We buy those from oil and gas mineral owners. What about Bounty Investments? That’s just a personal thing with my wife and our personal assets. We call that Bounty Investments. Bounty comes from where we live. The property was originally claimed by Liz Crockett after the Alamo and the people who fought in the Texas Revolution. We called that land Crockett’s Bounty. From there, we named our little family business. I’ve always been interested in Texas history. My family is from the Panhandle, several generations. There’s an old house on it where I lived. Elizabeth Crockett started it. We found a powder horn in a crawl space that says Crockett on it. We know they [the Crockett family] were there. Do you live there now? No, it’s not our current house. For a while, we would stay there on weekends, as a fixer-upper. But it’s two rooms downstairs and two rooms upstairs. No closets. It’s an old house. The latest Perryman Group report on the Barnett Shale’s economic impact was released, and it’s still an economic engine for the region. Does that surprise you? A little bit, but there are wells on our ranch and sometimes they have to work on those wells, hauling off water. And pumpers are there, so I know that creates lots of jobs. Just in keeping the equipment maintained? Maintenance costs? Yes. Congratulations on the Fort Worth Business Hall of Fame award. What does that mean to you? I was pleased, really pleased because I was close to Texas Wesleyan 20 years ago when I was in Southland Royal Co. I look forward to getting to know Texas Wesleyan again. Anyway, I was really thrilled and immediately accepted. You moved offices recently. Are you still in the Carter Burgess building? Jonny [Brumley’s son and president-CEO of Enduro Resource Partners LLC] is on the eighth floor now. Now I’m on the 34th floor. Sounds like you’re moving on up. If I want to be up higher, I’d better do it now (laughs).