A. We were oil gypsies, moving from Bartlesville back and forth from Utah, Houston and South Carolina. My first 10 years of school, I attended 11 different schools before we settled in Bartlesville my sophomore year. I was always the new kid in the class, so I learned to get along with people — or not. I was in a lot of fights. I started working when I was 8, and was paid for three seasons by the Spartanburg (S.C.) Phillies minor league baseball team to play open positions during practices. From age 13 on, I worked for restaurants, doing everything from washing dishes, cooking and waiting tables to managing and, later, owning them. In college at OU, I was active in student government, serving as the equivalent of secretary of state to the Norman City Council. Subsequently, I was appointed to the board of Keep Norman Beautiful, which was my first view into environmental organizations, and helped form Keep OU Beautiful and the campus trolley system. Then, the campus was an urban blight. There were no flowers. It was littered and dirty, and there were only 1,100 parking spaces for 11,000 cars. Those efforts led to my involvement in Keep Oklahoma Beautiful, where I helped establish a network of recycling centers across the state, and the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission, which is about maximizing production and protecting the environment.
Q. Tell us about your career before TEEMCO.
A. I started working as a land man my senior year during the oil boom and, following graduation, started my own firm. But then the whole industry collapsed with the Penn Square Bank failure. Nobody was interested in leases, but people had production they wanted to sell, so I negotiated acquisitions and mergers. For 25 years, I was an investment banker and bought and ran companies, the largest of which was a nationwide shared tenant services company — H.Q. Executive Suites, which employed 1,200. Then the bottom fell out of the mortgage and real estate markets.
Q. When did you join TEEMCO?
A. Six years ago, when they were only an eight-person operation. They recruited me as executive vice president and chief operating officer, and then I bought the company three years ago. It's fun and exciting to come to work because I know what we do matters. As we grow and become more successful, the better off the planet will be.
Q. What first interested you in the Gold Dome building?
A. Initially, I was thinking about diversifying my business interests and leasing space here for a new restaurant with a new concept. But it quickly evolved into my buying the whole building. We're still exploring opening a restaurant — but based on a Houston steakhouse model — in the space once occupied by the dome's most recent Prohibition Room restaurant. Because of the property's restricted parking, we'd only be open at night.