When Jack Money and Steve Lackmeyer heard rumors several years ago that Devon Energy Corp. was looking to build a new headquarters for its workforce, which now numbers about 1,700, they knew they needed to tell the oil company's story.
As the authors noted, throughout Oklahoma City's history dating to statehood, a new building in the business district “would generate an incredible amount of excitement among the community,” Money said.
In the months that followed Devon's 2008 announcement it planned to build a 50-story tower and related energy center, Lackmeyer and Money got to work on research for their new Oklahoma City history project, recently released as a book, “Operation Scissortail: Building a New Home for Devon Energy, Building a New Heart for OKC.”
The pair interviewed Devon executives and key players, members of the architect and design teams overseeing the energy center's construction and Oklahoma City officials who had an interest in how the project would turn out, whether their focus was on managing traffic in the area or in the Myriad Gardens across the street.
Money's and Lackmeyer's narrative about Devon progressed as construction on the tower did, and their book, released the same year the tower opened, is a 241-page coffee-table book that reads like a novel. It is filled with photos, documents and even artists' renderings of potential buildings at sites Devon considered before deciding on a spot north of the Myriad Gardens.
Throughout the book, the authors focused on the personal stories of the people involved in making it all happen as well as the developing project.
The book is available locally at bookseller Full Circle Bookstore and in the Aravalli Coffee Shop Devon inside the Devon building.
“Operation Scissortail” is the third book from writers Lackmeyer and Money, and they consider it somewhat of a sequel to “OKC: Second Time Around” and “Skirvin.”
The book touches on the start of Devon in a single office in Liberty Tower in 1970 and takes readers through surviving the oil bust and failure of Penn Square Bank, the code name for the new headquarters project years before it was announced — “Scissortail” — and the construction and transformation of that area of downtown Oklahoma City.
Lackmeyer and Money said they were surprised at the number of sites Devon considered before settling on southwest downtown. They also noted that Devon executives wanted to build something that reflected the company's energy heritage.
“They were really creating a sense of place. They really worked hard to create a headquarters that complemented the downtown skyline while also bringing it light years forward,” Lackmeyer said.
Devon Executive Chairman Larry Nichols, who founded Devon with his dad, John Nichols, offered his perspective in the book's introduction.
“We wanted a building that would be admired by the community and be viewed as a proud symbol of Oklahoma City's renaissance. We wanted to invite the public into our new space whenever possible. ... And, of course, we wanted a building that would be beautiful,” Nichols wrote.
The “Operation Scissortail” authors said they were grateful for the access to information and photos that Devon granted them for their book.
“Without them agreeing to participate with us in this project, we wouldn't have been able to pull it off,” Money said. Compared to their other two books, “this book was based a lot more on interviews than historical records.”
Lackmeyer added, “It's not lost on us that Devon put an enormous amount of trust in us.”
Lackmeyer and Money once worked as a reporting team covering downtown development for The Oklahoman. Lackmeyer currently covers downtown Oklahoma City for the newspaper and NewsOK.com. Money is manager of media relations at New Dominion LLC.
“We had an award-winning run as a team, and we've carried that through as authors,” Lackmeyer said. “I've done two books without Jack, and I much prefer doing them with Jack.”