Oklahoma native Jerry Winchester was tabbed in September to run Chesapeake Energy Corp.'s next subsidiary to spin off into a public company.
Winchester heads Chesapeake Oilfield Services LLC, a service company built over the past decade as part of Chesapeake's vertical integration strategy.
Chesapeake has invested about $1.8 billion in its service companies to provide its exploration and production operations with premium services at attractive prices.
Winchester joined the company after 13 years as CEO of Boots & Coots International Well Control Inc., which was acquired by Halliburton last year.
Winchester recently talked with The Oklahoman about his life and career. This is an edited transcript:
Q: You've got experience running a service company that was acquired by a bigger company in the oil and natural gas industry. How will that experience help you as you prepare to go in the opposite direction with Chesapeake Oilfield Services?
A: I think the important part here is to deliver service and make decisions like a small company with the critical mass and substance of a large company. While we have a small group of folks who are new to the oil field, most of our folks came from some other service company — mostly the large ones. They are intrigued with the ability to start something up from a seemingly blank sheet of paper. No legacy issues or social problems. Everyone starts on the same page.
Q: What do you think this new company has to offer to investors?
A: What we have been able to establish is a “cycle resistant” service company that can thrive greatly in the up cycle and stay highly utilized in the down cycle. This also allows us to hire and attract folks in the industry who have lived through the cyclical process and want to get off that treadmill. This helps drive a culture of service quality and thus helps with our financial goal, which ultimately leads to consistent and better-than-average financial results.
Q: What drew you to Chesapeake after more than a dozen years as CEO of Boots & Coots?
A: I had a great run at Boots & Coots (B&C), and with Halliburton for that matter. I really liked the pressure control business and especially being globally recognized as the premier company in that space. Now I get a chance to shift gears to a completely different model. I burned through five or six passports at B&C since 80 percent of our business was outside the U.S. Being a native Oklahoman, I get to come home and concentrate on a U.S.-based entity where I won't wake up in the middle of the night and have to find my boarding pass to remember where I am. But more than that, this is a unique opportunity to vertically integrate a service company and launch it into a public entity. While this concept is not new, I don't know of anyone who has done it with the critical mass of the most active U.S. land driller as its biggest customer and partner.