When kept, words go a long way

“If you do your job, they’re going to take care of you. That’s more valuable than a paycheck.”

- Roland Thornhill, Senior Artificial Lift Foreman, formerly on Exxon Barnett legacy team

Nothing has the potential for uniting a culture quite like giving it a monumental task. When BKV acquired Exxon Barnett at the end of June 2022, it gained roughly 160,000 net acres in the Barnett, with assets that included wells and some 750 miles of midstream infrastructure.

The initial obstacle to overcome was timing. BKV needed to swap Exxon Barnett’s Wonderware SCADA system with its own Cygnet. An acronym for Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition, it’s a system that monitors and controls all the various infrastructures. This significant undertaking would be challenging in any circumstance. But in this case, it would require legacy Exxon Barnett teams to go from about 45 wells per man to about 90, essentially doubling their well capacity, without their field technology.

“We only had 30 days to implement this new system, and that’s not nearly enough time,” said Carl Rangel, BKV Director of Operations for North Texas. “But there wasn’t any pushback from anyone. We all rallied together and said, 'Let's figure it out and get it done.'”

Roland Thornhill, a Senior Artificial Lift Foreman who was part of the Exxon Barnett legacy team, notes that the lack of bureaucracy at BKV was a positive culture shock. “They give you total ownership at every level. They expect a lot, but they also take care of you.”

This approach aligns well with the company's Pay for Performance model, which rewards initiative and hard work. From Rangel’s perspective, the motivation to tackle a job like this comes straight from the top. “Along with the rest of leadership, Chris Kalnin does what he says, and keeping your word goes a long way.”

Part of that commitment is reflected in the company’s harmonization effort during the acquisition. It’s not uncommon for companies to lay off people or cut salaries. But in this case, Exxon Barnett legacy employees were assured they’d keep their jobs, their titles and pay—at least until the following July—without worrying about having the financial rug pulled out from under them.

“There’s a genuine care for people that’s evident,” said Rangel. “Back in 2021, I was electrocuted, working on my own time, and nearly died. Chris and Eric (Jacobsen) called me personally to see what my family needed, including my wife and kids. And they followed through.”

Articulating a vision, or communicating a value, isn’t unique in corporate culture or on company websites. Following those words with action is another thing altogether. And the results speak loudly.