Brad Barron became the CEO of NuStar in January of 2014, where he had previously served as the company’s Executive Vice President and General Counsel. Barron had been a part of the Valero executive team when NuStar was spun off in 2006.
Barron took over the CEO position during one of the company’s most difficult financial periods. As a partnership, NuStar is obligated to distribute all of its “excess cash” to its partners, but the company had not been able to meet its payout obligations for more than two years. Barron was able to quickly get the company back on track to meet its obligations, in part by being up-front and bluntly honest with his employees.
“Shortly after I took over, we had a management meeting and showed employees: This is what our financial situation is, this is where we need to go, this is what distribution coverage means. I laid out how much we need to make, and we communicated that to every single employee in the company. Then we set the employees’ bonus on that distribution number, which was $392 million.
“What I told the employees was we will make $392 million, and that goes to the unit holders. Every dollar above that goes to your bonus until we get 100% bonus and then we will split the remainder between the employees and the unit holders. The employees immediately got it.” Indeed, the company was soon back on schedule with its distribution coverage and has been ever since.
NuStar Energy was created in 2001 under the initial name of Shamrock Logistics LP. The partnership was renamed Valero LP later that year when it was acquired by Valero.
Upon its acquisition from Ultramar Diamond Shamrock, Valero Chairman and CEO Bill Greehey said, “We plan to aggressively grow the L.P. to benefit the shareholders of both companies.” In the intervening 18 years, the company has certainly fulfilled Greehey’s vision.
Initially, the company owned and operated 2,800 miles of refined product pipelines, 11 refined product terminals, 800 miles of crude oil pipelines and crude oil storage facilities with a capacity of 3.3 million barrels. In 2005, Valero LP executed a $2.8 billion acquisition of Kaneb Pipeline Partners LP, making the company one of the largest petroleum liquids pipeline and terminal operators in the United States.
By 2006, the company was ready to separate completely from Valero, a friendly parting of the ways that was accomplished by taking the company public in a pair of public offerings. The new, completely independent company was renamed NuStar Energy LP, a name that Greehey said was chosen for a specific reason: “Our new name says it all.” “We are the new star in the energy business, and because of our employees’ contributions to our success, we are at a very important turning point in the history of our company. With our newfound independence, we are now in a better position to continue growing and achieving even greater success in the years ahead.”
The company continued its aggressive growth program in the coming years, making an initial entry into the Eagle Ford Shale region with an acquisition in 2012. In 2015, NuStar loaded the first load of U.S. light sweet crude for export at its Corpus Christi North Beach Terminal following the repeal of the 1970s-era ban on crude exports.
In 2017, NuStar made its entry into the Permian Basin by acquiring Navigator Energy Services, LLC and its extensive Permian Crude Gathering System for $1.5 billion. As we will see later in this piece, that acquisition has been very successful for the company, and an integral driver of its continuing growth.
The last few years have been a time of significant expansion for NuStar as the company has positioned itself as one of the country’s largest pipeline and storage companies. Along the way, NuStar has also been recognized by Fortune Magazine as one of the country’s 100 Best Places to Work and has received much praise for its myriad contributions to community service.
We sat down with Barron in September to talk about the company’s growth, its future and his personal management style and philosophy.
Shale Mag: You’ve had obviously a phenomenal amount of growth since the company went public in 2001, and one thing we try to do for our readers is to try to explain to them in terms everyone can understand the impacts that various aspects of the business really are. It would be very interesting for our readers for you to explain how becoming a public company helped to enable the rapid growth that your company has had.
Barron: We really couldn’t grow the way we’ve grown without access to public capital. The reason anybody becomes public is to access the public markets, both equity and debt. So, that’s how a lot of our growth has been funded. Up until these last few years when the public equity market has dried up for energy, particularly it dried up for MLP’s, now it’s drying up for E&P producers, as you know.
Access to public equity actually allowed us to build the projects that we needed to build. The way I think about our growth, sort of the NuStar elevator pitch, is we’re a large publicly traded partnership, a master limited partnership. We have operations in 27 states, we have close to 10,000 miles of pipe. In terms of storage capacity, we have approximately 74 million barrels of storage capacity.
Shale Mag: Wow.
Barron: Yeah, we have quite a bit of storage. In terms of how we’re divided up, we used to be about 50/50 between storage and pipelines. But in these recent years, we’ve trended more towards pipeline, so now pipeline is about 2/3 and storage is about 1/3. That’s about what you would expect in a backwardated market.
(Note: A “backwardated” market is a market in which the current price — the spot price — of oil is higher than prices trading in the futures market. The opposite of backwardation is “contango,” where the futures contract price is higher than the expected price at some future expiration. Backwardation can occur as a result of a higher demand for an asset currently than the contracts maturing in the future through the futures market.)
We have also had these huge opportunities in the Eagle Ford and the Permian, so we’ve seen a lot of our growth there. Within our pipeline segment, crude is about 2/3 of our capacity and refined products is now about 1/3. That gives you a little bit of an idea about how we’re set up.
Shale Mag: Talking about the Permian and Eagle Ford markets, do you anticipate any further opportunities for expansion related to crude coming out of those two major basins?
Barron: Absolutely. The reason we moved into the Permian — we talk about it here internally in terms of “dislocations.” Midstream logistics companies exist to solve a dislocation in the market, and the biggest dislocation, at least in my career, has been the Permian Basin. But for the benefit of readers, a dislocation occurs when you have a product or commodity in one place, and it needs to get to another place. The fact that the product can’t get there results in an economic dislocation.
So that is the issue that midstream companies exist to resolve. We saw the Permian Basin rising as a real power about three years before we jumped into it. We watched it for quite a while, we did our own projections as to what it can do and then we began looking for the perfect way to have a foothold in that. Our belief was if you’re going to be a midstream company you have to have a presence in the Permian.
So, we looked at probably 16 different gathering systems because we think gathering is the best way for us to participate at that particular dislocation, or one way. We looked at about 16 different systems and we chose the Permian Crude System based on a couple of things.
One was its location. As you know, not all acreage in the Permian is created equal, so we wanted to get something that’s the heart of the Midland Basin. There’s been a lot of heat around the Delaware Basin, but our view was that the Midland Basin would be able to sustain itself in a challenged price environment more than the peripheral basin would, and I think we’re seeing that play out. So, we’re really happy. We’re in five of the six most prolific counties in the Permian.
You asked about future growth. We think that system can grow probably another 200,000 barrels a day, maybe even more, and we expect to see that pattern of growth over the next five years or so.
(Note: Indeed, on Nov. 19, 2019, NuStar announced an open season on a 200,000 barrel per day expansion of its Permian Crude Gathering System.)
I mentioned there are multiple ways to participate in a dislocation like the Permian. The three big ways are: Infield gathering, or intrabasin gathering, which is what we have in the Permian Crude System. The middle part is the long-haul pipeline, long haul take-aways. Those are your big 30-inch pipelines coming down to Corpus Christi and over to Houston. And then the third way is the exports. Most of this crude is trying to get to the water for export, or a lot of it is trying to get to the water for export.
We chose to participate in the basin, and chose not to participate in the long-haul pipelines for a couple of reasons: One, the long-haul systems are extraordinarily capital intensive. Unless you have a marketing arm it’s very difficult, I think, to make those make sense. If you look at the people who are building them, they have in-house marketing. So, we made the affirmative decision to not build one of those pipelines. Also, in order to make money, you really have to fill them up. From our perspective, it just wasn’t the right fit for us.
What is the right fit for us, though, is the Port of Corpus Christi. And part of the reason that’s a great fit for us is we already had assets on the ground, we had expanded those assets during the shale boom in the Eagle Ford. So, we built another dock to handle some of our Eagle Ford volumes, and we overbuilt the dock so that now we have the capacity to handle Permian crude as well.
Tying that all together, if you look at our system now, we’ve got a big gathering system that can handle 560,000 barrels a day in the Permian, and it’s connected to every major outbound pipeline out of the Permian. And then we’re connected to those same pipelines down in Corpus Christi, and the first part of that was a big connection we did for Trafigura. That was a 16-inch pipeline we had going to Oakville. So, the very first Permian barrels that were exported came out over our docks. We’re really proud of that.
We also signed a deal with Trafigura though where we are moving crude off of the Cactus 2 Pipeline, which is a Plains pipeline that comes out of Taft. So, we built a 30-inch pipeline from Taft over to our North Beach docks to handle all of Trafigura’s volumes.
I get this question sometimes at investor conferences, they say “Well, what gives you an advantage in Corpus Christi over someone else?” The kind of flippant answer that we sometimes give is because you can go and actually use our docks. You can come touch them, see them, they’re moving crude today, you know they’re not blueprints, they’re actually built and functioning.
Shale Mag: Sean Strawbridge recently said that he envisions his Port becoming the “Cushing of the Coast” with all the new storage capacity being installed, and your company obviously is playing a huge role in that. Talk about the factors that led NuStar to become a big player at Port CC.
Barron: We think that’s (Strawbridge’s projections about the growth of PortCC storage) true as well.
You know, we’re big supporters of the Port of Corpus Christi, we’ve had a great relationship with them for a long time — it goes all the way back to Bill Greehey’s relationship with the port when he was at Valero, and NuStar sort of inherited that goodwill. We think the port is very well positioned to become the dominant export port over the Port of Houston for several reasons:
One, it has fewer fog days, less congestion, and it is a dedicated energy port. So, they don’t do container ships in and out of Corpus Christi, and that allows it to be a dedicated port.
They’re also investing in what’s called deepening and widening projects, which I’m sure you’re aware of, and that will benefit all the folks like us.
Finally, there is just a tremendous amount of infrastructure there already. So, you take our docks along with some others, and we should be able to handle the 2.3 million barrels per day of pipeline capacity pointed at Corpus Christi.
We also believe that Taft will develop into a big hub. It’s right outside of Corpus, and so those big pipelines are coming into Taft and then we’re connecting there in Taft and bringing it over to our dock facilities. We just built the 30-inch pipeline I mentioned earlier, and the standard capacity is 600,000 barrels a day on that line. It can do a million per day fully powered up, but 600,000 should do for now.
Shale Mag: So, all of this, of course with the Port of Corpus Christi and all the expansion taking place there, was enabled by the repeal of the ban on the export of U.S. crude oil that was implemented during the 1970s. Talk about how crucial that repeal was in facilitating the development of U.S. exports.
Barron: You can call it crucial; you can call it transformative, really any superlative adjective you want to add to it. It’s key, and I think it’s key in America’s energy independence and dominance.
It’s kind of a counterintuitive thing. You would think that, ok you can export oil, that doesn’t allow you to be dominant. But what it has done, the fact that you can export the excess oil, is encouraged investment in the infrastructure it takes to develop the oil. So, now the United States could have a much bigger impact on the world’s stage. I actually wish we could go a little bit further with our energy policy, but that’s a whole other topic.
I’m looking at a slide here that we have that shows crude exports going from zero in 2014, and the projection is 6 million barrels a day in 2024.
Shale Mag: One of the fascinating things about your company is this 2,000-mile pipeline system that transports anhydrous ammonia through the middle of the country to an array of delivery points, and our readers would really enjoy learning about that. Where does anhydrous ammonia originate, for example?
Barron: Well, it is an interesting story. Most ammonia used to be created or manufactured overseas, and it came in, if you notice where that pipeline came down it goes all the way down and heads at the mouth of the Mississippi River. The United States used to bring in foreign cargos of ammonia.
One of the things that comes from hydraulic fracturing for oil is you get a lot of natural gas. As a result, the United States is awash in natural gas, and natural gas is the feedstock for ammonia. Today, the supplies of anhydrous ammonia are almost all domestic.
Most of the ammonia that goes on our pipeline is being sourced domestically up and down that pipeline — that’s been one of the big shifts we’ve seen on that line. The other thing about the line is the use of the ammonia. Some of it is used industrially, so there’s different plants along the line that’s used for different industrial processes. But probably the biggest use is as fertilizer on the farm fields of the U.S. If you look where this thing goes, it goes right out into corn country, soybean country, Iowa, Nebraska, all those great states.
Shale Mag: What other parts of the NuStar system would you like to talk about today?
Barron: You know, what I would tell you is that we are focused on solving dislocations. So, our focus in recent years has been on crude first in the Eagle Ford then in the Permian.
However, we do have terminals all around the country, particularly a lot of marine terminals. And one of our big success stories has been moving biofuels on the West Coast. That was an opportunity that our team on the West Coast saw — they saw an increasing demand for that in California, Washington, Oregon, and we began making the investments in order to handle biofuels. We have a relationship with the two largest biofuels manufacturers in the world to handle their biofuels on the West Coast. It’s been a really successful part of our business, something we’re real pleased about.
Shale Mag: Yes, that’s a real growth industry too, isn’t it?
Barron: Mmhmm. That’s a growth industry, and I think there’s an increasing focus on what people perceive to be more environmentally friendly fuels, so we’re happy to participate in that as well.
Shale Mag: You mentioned a little bit ago that NuStar currently operates 74 million barrels of storage. That’s getting fairly close to the total storage at Cushing, Oklahoma, isn’t it?
Barron: You know, I don’t know how much is at Cushing, because we don’t have anything there. (Note: The EIA estimates that current storage capacity at Cushing is 85 million barrels of crude oil.) Plus, you’ve got to remember that some of ours is divided between refined products and crude. So, the biggest crude hub we have is Saint James, Louisiana. We’ve got 12 million barrels of storage at Saint James. And then we have 3 or 4 million barrels in Point Tupper, which is in Nova Scotia. We have almost 4 million barrels of crude storage in Corpus Christi. And then a lot of the terminals are refined products, like in the New York Harbor where we have a substantial terminal there of all refined products.
Shale Mag: One thing about the storage part of the business that we hear a lot about is the impact that weekly changes in crude inventory have on short-term changes in oil prices. Can you clarify for our readers why these changes in the inventory levels play such an important role in the determination of oil prices?
Barron: That’s a hard question to answer. It’s a hard question to pontificate about. What we see more is, well, I’m trying to look rather that at the daily fluctuation in crude prices, I try to look more at the longer-term trends, and we’re more focused on the global supply and demand balance. I think those fluctuations you see in storage are sort of a marker of that. Sort of like taking someone’s temperature, it’s one little marker, you take someone’s blood pressure, it’s a marker maybe of overall health or a direction that its headed.
I think that maybe people use that as a marker of where the supply and demand balance actually is. But if you notice, it’s very volatile. It goes up and down overnight, so a lot of that is just traders making money, you know, trading back and forth. It’s not really that dialed in.
But we don’t take title to any of the barrels. We don’t own the commodity at all and most of our contracts for storage are long-term contracts. The average term of our contracts is three, five, seven years. So, for us, we’re agnostic as to what the price is.
Shale Mag: Are those fixed-fee contracts?
Barron: They are. These are fixed-fee contracts, so you know it’s like a storage warehouse. What we do watch pretty carefully with regard to crude prices is how they affect oil production in the basins. Permian, Eagle Ford. There’s a healthy band, as you know, that the price needs to be in: If it gets too low, it affects production. If it gets too high it affects the economy, and again begins to affect production. So, there’s a sweet spot in there where producers make money, the economy thrives, everybody does well. That’s where we really want to see crude prices.
Shale Mag: Let’s talk about safety because we know what a priority that is for the midstream business. Talk about what the typical daily safety briefing that would take place at one of your storage facilities or one of your big installations would look like.
Barron: Safety is a very, very important topic for us. It’s something that we spend a lot of time and a lot of resources on. I’m proud to say, it wasn’t this last year, but the year before, we had zero lost-time injuries, and we had zero recordable injuries. So that’s huge….
Shale Mag: That’s an incredible track record…
Barron: Yeah, that’s a great track record for us. One of the reasons is that safety culture is top of mind here for everyone. One of the things we participate in is OSHA’s VPP program, the Voluntary Protection Program, which is an employee-led initiative. So, it’s not pushed from management going down, it’s from employees coming up.
We provide the resources for them to do it, and it’s a very rigorous training that the employees go through. Then, OSHA inspectors come through, they quiz the employees on the basics of safety, they look at the facility, and then you pass, you get certified. We have 31 facilities now that are VPP certified, which is roughly 80% of all of our sites. We have about five big areas that we need to continue to get certified. So, that’s been a tremendous boost for safety for us.
In terms of a typical briefing, we have a program called Take 2 for Safety. For example, say there’s work to be done on any given day: We’ll gather everybody together, and we’ll talk about the work to be performed. They talk about who’s going to perform the work, what equipment it’s going to take to perform it, what the work actually entails, and then what could possibly go wrong. And they spend as long as they need to talk about that, planning out the job before anyone’s released to actually go do work.
Then, at any point, we have what’s called “pull the chain to stop the train.” Anyone has the right and the responsibility to pull the chain and stop work — pull the chain figuratively if they see anything that gives them a concern. So, that’s what a typical safety briefing would entail.
That actually reminds me of one other thing. You know, we talked about dislocations and what a big dislocation the Permian has been, so that has actually resulted in the highest capital spend in our history this last year.
You’d expect that if you’re having the highest capital spending, safety would slip, and so we spent a lot of time being focused on safety, and we have not seen our safety slip during that time, and that’s something we are very proud of.
Shale Mag: What about when you have a pipeline right of way that goes through a populated area, where a neighborhood may be fairly close to your right of way. Are there special safety precautions NuStar takes in those situations?
Barron: We do. In general, we have a mailing once a year to everyone who has property nearby to let them know that there is a pipeline there, to let them know that they need to call, make one call, call 811 before they dig or anyone digs around them. So, we try to advertise that.
We do a lot of signage along our pipelines. We have a policy where you need to be able to see — its called “line of sight” — whenever you’re standing at a sign, you need to be able to see the next sign on the pipeline, so no matter where you are looking on the pipe, you should be able to see one ahead of you and one behind you.
We do have a pipeline in a heavily populated area where it was hard to put signs like that, so what we did instead was to put markers on the pavement. So, there are markers on the pavement saying, “NuStar pipeline — call this number if you need to know more.”
The other thing we encourage our guys in the field to do, and this may be getting a little bit more rural, but we encourage them to get to know the landowners where the pipelines go and talk to the landowners frequently, and encourage them to give us a call if they see anything that gives them a concern.
David: What about Crisis Response? Talk about how NuStar prepares its employees to respond to emergency events.
Barron: We have an emergency operations center at our headquarters, and each one of our major departments within the company has a representative that sits on what we call the EOC (Emergency Operations Committee). For example, you’ll have representatives from operations, strategic sourcing, communications, legal, accounting, all those people, and they come together and they give reports from the field. There’s an EOC in the field as well, and we help them manage the crisis. I think that’s not uncommon — most companies have that kind of response plan.
What’s more uncommon, or I think it is, is the way that we work with our employees during a crisis. I’ll give you an example: When Hurricane Harvey was coming to Houston, or any hurricane, what would happen then is our HR department would work with the regional HR folks to build an evacuation plan for every employee and their family.
So, we would go ahead and book hotel rooms that are out of the storm’s path, so those employees could evacuate their families, get them out. Then we would track every single employee during the course of the storm to make sure that they are safe. Then, when the storm’s over, the first thing that we do is rather than get the facility back up and running, we check on all the employees to see what kind of issues they have at their homes, to see what kind of help that they need.
After Harvey passed, we sent crews from up here. I don’t know how many crews we sent, but there were several. We have a Strategic Sourcing Group that puts together necessary items – you know, right after the storm, you couldn’t get certain kinds of food and water. They’re putting together truckloads of water, milk, and supplies. And other things that people needed, like generators, toilet paper, chainsaws. All that sort of stuff, they put it on trucks, and we drove it to Houston and took it to the people.
Next, we send a crew to everybody’s house, so a person can’t come back to work and function fully if they’re worried about their family at home dealing with downed power lines, flooding, major things like that. They just can’t focus on their work. So we sent people out to everybody’s house, we tore out sheetrock, we tore out carpet, swept out the water, got the trees off the driveway, got them individually back up and running, so that they and their families were safe, and that allowed them to go ahead and come on back to work.
We also have a program that Mr. Greehey started years ago called the Safe Fund, which provides a grant for people who wind up with a problem. So, it’s not a loan, it’s just a grant, you never have to repay it. It can be up to $10,000, depending on need.
To give you an example, we had a hail storm come through here, and some of our employees had parked on top of the parking garage on the top floor, and the storm literally broke every window in their car. Some of them had a high deductible on their insurance policy, and that became stressing for them, so we authorized the Safe Fund to cover the deductible on their insurance policy. And we did that during the hurricane for people’s home insurance deductibles, stuff like that.
One thing that Mr. Greehey’s always believed, and we believe in, is that our employees are our number one asset. And he’s always believed that if you take care of the employees, the employees will take care of the company, and take care of the community, and ultimately the investors. So, that’s something that we try to practice every day.
David: Your company has been named one of Fortune Magazine’s 100 best workplaces in Texas. Obviously, your focus on your employees’ well-being is one of the big factors that went into receiving those awards. Do you want to talk about other things, other parts of the way you do business, that has made your company such a great place for people to work?
Barron: I think giving people the opportunity to contribute in their community is really important, and it’s particularly important to the millennial generation — we hear that a lot from those guys. I think the other thing is, we just have a culture of respect at our company, and again, that comes from Bill Greehey. Everybody has an important role to play here, and we treat everybody that way.
Another thing that NuStar does, is we make volunteering easy. We have a pretty much full-time volunteer coordinator, and our volunteer events are run by a volunteer council. Those are people elected throughout the company. They come together and meet to decide these are going to be our volunteer initiatives for the year. And we encourage all employees to give at least 25 hours of community service. We try to make that happen — we give people time off from work to do that.
Shale Mag: Another thing that is interesting is your professional background as an attorney. It is not all that common to see attorneys become CEOs in the energy business, so it is an interesting progression. Talk about how that all came about, and your philosophy of management that helped you move up into the CEO slot of a major company like that.
Barron: I would say probably a big reason that I had this opportunity to be the CEO, is because when we split off from Valero we were a very small company, and everybody had to wear a whole lot of hats. So, I had the opportunity during that time to wear a whole bunch of different hats and interface with a lot of different groups. Over the years I’ve had the law and tax departments report to me, real estate and right of way report to me, HR reported to me, and health safety and environmental at one point — a whole lot of different groups. So, I think when it came time to consider a new CEO, I wasn’t part of the deliberations, but I’m sure the board talked about and looked at it and said here’s the person who knows the most elements of the company and how to have everybody working together.
Shale Mag: Yes, a high degree of versatility, obviously. Do you have any personal mentors who you know in your business life that you would like to recognize as helping to prepare you to make that move?
Barron: Oh, of course, the most obvious one Bill Greehey. What a great mentor. I don’t know if you know Bill’s background, but at one point, Bill Greehey was responsible for creating five publicly traded companies. Just the things that he has accomplished in the energy business are incomparable — there are only a handful of people who have done anything like that.
And then to add on top of that, what’s really unique about Bill is his philanthropy. He’s done so much for the city of San Antonio, and he has created I don’t know how many millionaires in the city of San Antonio through Valero, and through NuStar. And he’s also created a group of philanthropists in the city. A lot of people who give here are people who have been associated with Bill in some way. So, he’s a great example, a great mentor in pretty much every way.
Shale Mag: What would you say a typical working day looks like for you these days?
Barron: Hah! A lot of meetings. I wouldn’t say there’s a day that’s typical — everyone is very, very different. The one thing we do have, we have an executive committee meeting every Tuesday that lasts several hours. But the thing we do here is we talk a lot. I believe a lot in collaboration and communication. I feel like that a big part of my job is to make sure that people with information are getting that information to the people who need to know it.
One of the things that Bill used to do that we have continued is to travel a lot to our other locations, go to the employees and actually talk to them. They’re the ones who actually know what’s going on. And so we have these roundtables in the field; they’re actually a lot of fun; it’s good to sit down with the employees, just get to hear what’s on their mind, and share with them what our plans are and hear from them what their individual concerns are.
Shale Mag: You are currently the Chairman of the Board of the Alamo bowl. How long have you been doing that? And what is that like in terms of having to help organize such a huge event like that?
Barron: I’ve been on the board there probably 10 or 12 years, and this year I’m the chair of the board. It’s a great organization. It has a huge economic impact on the city of San Antonio. I think it brings in something like $56 million each year in tourism dollars to the city. The bowl, again, that’s one of those things that Bill was instrumental in getting set up, and I’m so happy to follow in his footsteps there. But the bowl is very well run. I get to meet with the teams, we work with team selections things like that, just make sure it runs smoothly, but it’s a well-run operation.
Shale Mag: Speaking of sports, what do you do in your spare time, when you actually have some spare time? You know, do you have hobbies, exercise, other activities?
Barron: I like to spend a lot of time outdoors. I grew up in South Texas, in the town of Bishop. I grew up outside with my mom and dad hunting and fishing, and so I really like to do that when I get the opportunity. I try to stay in shape, so that takes up time during the week. But on the weekends, I actually like to spend time on our place west of here — a little ranch in the Hill Country. So, a lot of that, the weekend is spent filling feeders and fixing fences and just things that have to be done around a ranch.
Shale Mag: In closing, tell us about one of your favorite ways of giving back to the community.
Barron: I counsel a lot of college students through various organizations I’m involved with, and I get asked a lot about choosing a first job. And the thing I tell college students all the time is don’t choose your first job based on pay. And typically, I was always surprised, you know people come into an interview, and they never ask the right questions they should’ve asked in the interview. Like they should’ve asked “What’s it like to work here? What’s the culture like?” They should be trying to figure out “does this align with my personal beliefs?”
So, I tell these students all the time “Don’t pick your first job based on pay. Pick your job based on something that fits you.”
Because if you find a job that you love and the culture fits you, you’ll be there early, you’ll stay there late, you’ll rise faster through the organization, and you’ll have a bigger impact than you would if you’re in a job where you’re paid well, but you’re miserable every day.
It’s a huge difference.
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