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Midland Living Magazine

Petroleum, Perseverance, & Philanthropy

Jan 15, 2020 09:40AM
by kayla weinkauf | photos provided by henry petroleum

The success of Henry Resources can be summed up by the company’s focus on three things: petroleum, perseverance, and philanthropy.


When asked about his secret to success, Jim Henry, Founder and CEO of Henry Resources, said he follows Winston Churchill’s advice to, “Never, never, never give up. To succeed in business, it doesn’t take as much exceptional intelligence or even hard work as it takes perseverance.”

In November 1969, Jim Henry and Bob Landenberger formed H & L Consultants. They structured a business plan focused on working as consultants until they could later become contract operators. But Henry knew his path long before the fall of ‘69. “I’ve known I wanted to be an engineer since the 7th grade. I was good at algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and all other higher math. There was a lot of oil in Oklahoma where I lived. When I graduated high school, I went to Oklahoma University, which specialized in Petroleum Engineering.”


When it came time for Henry to start his own business, he followed the example of his father. “My father owned his own business. I learned a lot from him. In the back of my mind, I always thought I would like to start my own business. So when I got the chance, I jumped at it. I was working for a small company, Solar Oil Company. They had 10 employees. They lost their chief investor, Imperial American, and had to let go of all their employees, including me.”

Jim suggested to his wife, Paula, that they start their own company. She responded with an encouraging, “Let’s do it!” Jim called Paula’s support the single most important “Let’s Do it” in the company’s history. “It really helped that Solar’s chief geologist came with me. We were partners until I bought him out several years later. The rest is history. Now we are celebrating 50 years in business.”

 Jim & Paula Henry “Our word is our bond”

“To succeed in business, it doesn’t take as much exceptional intelligence or even hard work as it takes perseverance.”   -Jim Henry 

The petroleum industry has truly evolved over the years. When Henry and Landenberger started their company in 1971, it cost $150,000 to drill and complete (frac) a Spraberry well. In 2019, it costs 50 times as much. Wells are now drilled horizontally, whereas they were drilled vertically back then. Plus, today’s wells must produce 10 times more oil per day than they had to produce 50 years ago to be considered successful.

I wondered how a business owner perseveres through tough times and ever-changing expectations. Jim said one of the most challenging parts has simply been trying to keep his company afloat in a sometimes volatile market. “The biggest problem is trying to keep from going broke. Oil prices swing so violently that many oil companies go broke. In 1984, we sold half of the company and paid off all our debt. In 1986, oil prices crashed, and many oil companies went broke, but our company had no debt, so we were all right.”

 Jim Henry, Paula Henry & Linn Sale

Operating debt free was one way the company survived. Having the right people in the right roles was another way. Throughout the company’s history, Henry Resources has hired knowledgeable, hard-working employees that helped the company grow and succeed. Many of these same employees would later go on to start successful companies of their own. “In 1980, we hired Texas A&M graduate Dennis Johnson to run our production department. He later was promoted to President. Dennis did a fabulous job of increasing the net worth of our company. Over the years he acquired a 23% interest in our company. Later, Dennis left and started his own company. He has been very successful. Three of our top employees, Doug Robison, Dave Feavel, and Mike LaMonica later started their own successful company. Bob Dimit was another employee that left the company to start his own company and has been successful,” Henry shared.



Taking good care of his employees is the most rewarding part of Henry's work.  

Jim said taking good care of his employees is the most rewarding part of his work. “Our company has an ‘Incentive Compensation’. If our net worth increases, the employees get one-fourth of the increase. The way Paula and I look at it is, the employees do all the work, all we do is help with the planning, so they deserve one-fourth. We love to see how this is a game-changer for most of our employees. They live off their salary, but the IC allows them to put their kids through college or even invest their money for the future.”

The Henrys don’t stop at taking care of their employees, they aspire to take care of the Midland community as whole, as well. “Midland was built on the cattle industry where you could depend on a man’s word. It really is an exceptional community. When I was head of our United Way, our city was the number one city in the United States in per capita giving. It’s a very generous community. Also, it’s a small town—about 150,000 people. So you must be nice to people you see on the street because you are going to see them again!” he laughed. 

 FUMC groundbreaking

Jim and Paula believe giving back to the community is one of the most important things a person can do with his or her time, talents, and resources. It was that belief that inspired them to form The Henry Foundation in 2006. The Henry Foundation’s vision is, “improving the quality of life for citizens of Midland through giving which will have a lasting effect.”


The Henry Foundation’s vision is improving the quality of life for citizens of Midland through giving which will have a lasting effect.

The foundation donates to a wide variety of charities and organizations including arts and culture, religion, education, health and human services, and youth development. Since 2009, the foundation has invested over $17 million into making the Midland community a place where resources are focused to change lives. “We want to be known as a Christian company. A company that if we tell you something, you can believe it. Our word is our bond. We also want to be known as a company that gives back to the city that helped us grow.” †

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