Top 100 CEO, Public: Young CEO, old school ways: Patterson credits colleagues, communication for Basic’s success

A. Lee Graham

T.M. “Roe” Patterson had Fort Worth on his mind years before taking the reins at Basic Energy Services Inc. But that’s exactly what the Snyder, Texas, native did in September by succeeding Kenneth Huseman as CEO of one of the nation’s largest oil and gas well-servicing companies.

A fascination with Fort Worth that began years earlier during family vacations was fulfilled when he moved to town. At 40, Patterson is among the industry’s youngest CEOs. Yet he embraces old-school methods in achieving modern-day success. “I think what I’ve done in my career is be very good at listening to others and sharing the credit and trying to put the best people in the right position so that we all succeed,” Patterson says.

It was that way even before Patterson arrived at Basic in 2006 and later while he served as its senior vice president and chief operating officer. As the son of Patterson Drilling Co. co-founder A. Glenn Patterson, Roe Patterson spent years toiling in the oil fields, learning the family business and building a foundation for a career that would strike more than mineral deposits. Through hard work and dedication to detail, it would bring Patterson success in an industry that’s discouraged more than a few individuals. “I got my strength from my dad and uncle [Cloyce A. Talbott],” Patterson says. “They are the men I admire the most. I always admired the loyalty in their workers and their selflessness. I try to live by that example every day.” And it’s paid off.

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In its June 2014 report, Basic reported its well-servicing rig count as unchanged at 421, with well-servicing rig hours for the month totaling 71,600, yielding a rig utilization rate of 74 percent, compared with 70 percent in May. (The rate is the percentage of a company’s rigs in use.) That indicates increased drilling activity as clients use Basic’s myriad services. Those include well servicing, which helps maximize the flow of oil or gas; fluid servicing, which involves transporting, storing and disposing of fluids in all phases of drilling; and contract drilling, among other services. Patterson calls the shots, overseeing more than 5,600 workers in Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and the Rocky Mountain and Appalachian regions. His key to success? Smart hiring, and trusting management to work together. “We’re a decentralized management structure, and we give our field leadership the autonomy to make decisions. That means they can take care of local customers better than a company that has a little more bureaucracy and a top-down management versus bottom-up,” Patterson says.

Patterson earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Texas Tech University in 1995 before founding TMP Companies Inc. He eventually sold the company before Basic Energy came calling. “Ken Huseman recruited me,” says Patterson, remembering when his future boss was among his own customers. Joining Basic, Patterson moved to Midland and then to Fort Worth in 2012. That’s when the company pulled up stakes and leased 50,000 square feet of office space in downtown Fort Worth. “We had a tough time recruiting people to our corporate administration staff in Midland,” says Patterson. He was instantly enamored of his adopted hometown of Fort Worth and its “where the West begins” ethos. “For Worth is geographically centered to all our U.S operations, and it was a pretty good fit,” Patterson says. It also mirrors his company. “We feel like we are a big company, but we still feel like we’re small-company-minded with a small-company culture that gets to know our clients up close. That allows us to compete with the moms and pops in any market and get to know our customers better,” Patterson says.

Asked to name his personal strengths, Patterson pauses. “I try to treat people the way they want to be treated.” And a personal weakness? “I always think I need to listen more, but I think sometimes I’m a good listener and sometimes I’m not. I’m always working on my patience, too.” Asked what winning Top Public CEO accolades means, he wastes no time in crediting others. “I’d like to tell you that I’ve worked hard and hard work has paid off. But I’ve learned that you lead by listening and try to promote and foster a talented staff.”

That Patterson turns 40 on Aug. 20 – the day of the Top 100 awards dinner and celebration – is coincidental, but some might argue that it portends future success. Whether working toward that future or digging into a Delmonico steak at The Capital Grille – a personal favorite – Patterson makes sure to balance work with family life. He enjoys down time with his wife, Tonya, and their son, Nathan, 14, and daughter, Anna Grace, 12. Some spirited rounds of golf at Shady Oaks Country Club also balance out his life. But they never detract from business. “We’re constantly growing,” says Patterson. “That’s not going to stop.”

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