Q&A: Jim Finley - Owner and CEO, Finley Resources Inc. by Fort Worth Business Press

Reporter - Rob Robertson

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Jim Finley is the owner and CEO of Finley Resources Inc., a privately held independent oil and gas producer in Fort Worth.

Finley Resources acquires and explores oil and gas properties, with holdings in Alabama, Colorado, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Mississippi, New Mexico, Texas and Wyoming. The company operates about 800 wells and has nonoperated interest in an additional 2,000 wells.

Each year, Finley Resources organizes and chairs the North Texas Oil & Gas Crawfish Boil benefiting the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Fort Worth. The event, always held at River Ranch in the Fort Worth Stockyards, brings together many of the leading oil companies in the Metroplex to raise money and awareness for the Boys & Girls Clubs.

A graduate of the University of Texas, Finley has more than 20 years of experience in the acquisition and exploitation of oil and gas properties. He was employed by Arthur Andersen & Co. as a certified public accountant early in his career, and has served on the boards of directors of a number of public and private companies

He also serves on the board of the nonprofit Boys & Girls Clubs.

How did this whole thing get started?

We started in 2006, when Fort Worth was really becoming an oil town again.

Of course, Fort Worth has been an oil town before, in the 20s, 30s and 40s, but the Barnett Shale was really the first major shale gas play and it provided the city with a huge lift.

It also meant we had a huge amount of new people moving into the area to take advantage. With so many people moving in to do so many different jobs, nobody knew anybody. Engineers didn’t know engineers. Land men didn’t know land men. So the idea was to have an event where everyone – city officials, county officials and oil and gas industry employees – could get know one another and where we, as an industry, could give back to the city of Fort Worth by making the Boys & Girls Clubs a part of it.

 
Why the Boys & Girls Clubs?

I was on the board of the Boys & Girls Clubs at the time. I’m not on many boards but the Boys & Girls Clubs is one that really engages me because you’re giving self-esteem to kids that really need it. You’re breaking that cycle of kids that don’t have access to a positive atmosphere and teaching them that they have the ability within themselves to succeed. That’s what has drawn me to it. I believe that an investment in the Boys & Girls Clubs is really a long-term investment in Fort Worth.

Fort Worth may be an oil town, but it’s also a Texas barbecue town, which makes the crawfish boil unique. Whose idea was it to go with crawfish?

We’ve always had oil production going on over in Louisiana and Mississippi and the president of our company [Brent Talbot] is a Cajun from Baton Rouge. Traditionally, as a company we had always had crawfish boils, so it just seemed natural for us to do a crawfish boil for everyone. It’s just what we do.

The event has grown in size and stature every year and now amounts to a must-attend event for people in the oil and gas industry and beyond. Did you see this getting this big?

When we stared the thing, a few folks, the usual suspects – XTO, Chesapeake, Energy Transfer, Crosstex and Weatherford – whoever I called, they were all in. The oil and gas industry has a tremendous history of being charitable and giving back to the community so I didn’t have any problem at all getting support for the idea from the other players in the industry. It was big the first year and as the word got out about it, it has just gotten bigger. I think that’s really because the industry genuinely likes to give back. I’m glad everyone likes going.

How rewarding has this been for you?

Like a lot of nonprofits, most of the time at board meetings is spent trying to figure out how to make this year’s budget. That can be an all-consuming endeavor for any charity, really. This particular event took the Boys & Girls Clubs from always struggling for that next quarter’s budget to a place where they had their budget covered, so the people on the board and on the staff could focus their attention on projects that are beneficial and positive for the kids.

It took a little pressure off, and that allowed for a whole expansion of the creative thought process because you’re not so worried about money. You can focus on what’s most important for the kids and what you can do for the community, and that’s been a very rewarding thing to be a part of.