Posted By Lyndsey Kleven, Communications Coordinator,
Monday, March 2, 2015
The member spotlight series features legacy OOGA members who have also been a member of the Association for at least 10 years. If you would like to be highlighted, please contact Lyndsey Kleven. firstname.lastname@example.org
Todd Dever was born and bread into the oil and gas industry, he is the fourth generation of his family to work in the industry and, the third generation to work for Devco Oil, Inc. the Dever family business, which Todd now runs. Growing up Dever always worked at Devco Oil during the summers while he was in school.
“You can’t get away from it. My dad and grandpa, Frank, they put you to work,” said Dever. “You were out there at least weed eating, painting tanks, any little knickknack job that needed done.”
A graduate from John Glenn High School in New Concord, Ohio, Dever did not start working for the family business immediately. Following high school he went to Otterbein College in Westerville where he received a degree in public relations and a minor in speech communications. After college he started working in Columbus.
Dever worked in Columbus for a year when the family started talking about having him come back to work for Devco. At this point Dever’s parents were getting older and became interested in traveling more. Everyone agreed it was the right time for him to come back, so Dever became Operations Manager, over seeing day-to-day operations. Dever now lives in New Concord with his wife Cassie, who will soon be joining the business and their two children Noah, 7 and Cora, 4.
Todd’s grandfather Frank Dever along with his father Phill Dever and Roger Frantz (Phill’s brother-in-law) started the company. Much of the knowledge came from the experience Frank gained working in the oil fields of Findlay, Ohio, as his father did. Frank did not finish high school but immediately started working in the oil and gas industry as a teenager in the 1930s. In the 1950s, Frank built a couple of service rigs and started servicing wells in Findlay and locally. In 1975 Devco Oil Inc. was established.
In addition to service rigs, Frank also had a couple drilling rigs working throughout Ohio and some in Michigan. The Dever’s had wells that they drilled which made up the business through the mid 1980s, later leading them into the trucking business.
“We kind of actually just fell into trucking,” Todd said. “We had our own wells and our own production and thought we would just haul our own oil. In 1975 we started hauling our own production just in Guernsey County. We’re a service outfit, and we wanted it picked up quickly and safely.”
Other local producers knew Devco was hauling its own oil, and asked the company to haul theirs as well, and this became Devco’s original client base. In the mid 1980s Devco got out of drilling to focus on trucking. Devco still has 7 wells that are in production from the late 1960s.
“Once we started building a customer base for hauling we saw that’s where we needed to be. So we went that route, started to gather customers and meeting with clients to build the trucking side.” Devco now operates solely as a trucking outlet; it purchases oil and sells it to refineries.
“The producers are also friends, it’s not just a business relationship. We like to build a solid friendship with everyone, and I think everyone in the industry, for the most part, gets along—it’s a great industry to be in and associated with.”
During the Mt. Gilead boom, Devco had 12-15 trucks operating with a facility in Ashland. Today Devco operates with approximately 12 employees; this includes 8 drivers and office personnel. Todd became the president of the company following his father’s recent passing.
“We’ve been here for 40 years, hauling crude. We just have a really good core of people in this company, and our turn over rate is exceptional. I have a guy still working for me that started with us and is coming close to retirement.”
Devco Oil has been a member of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association (OOGA) since the mid 1970s. The Association’s current President, David R. Hill has been a longtime friend and business associate with Devco, and shared the value of joining the Association with Todd.
“The leadership that is in place at OOGA is probably the best Association that is around. The Association is great and really works together. It’s good at getting the word out and we have great people putting the positive information out there—not only positive, but factual information.”
Dever also credited the Association’s sister organization, OOGEEP, as being a powerhouse on the educational front. Being involved with both organizations, Dever has served on the OOGEEP Scholarship Committee since 2009 and currently holds a position on the OOGA Board of Trustees.
The Association has opened Devco Oil up to new clients and provided great networking opportunities. Dever also highlighted the annual Winter and Summer Meetings as providing great opportunities for interactions with people in the industry.
“You definitely meet interesting people and a lot of great contacts. Being around this group has exposed Devco to more northern producers. Previously there was a perception that Devco only worked in the southern region around Cambridge. Networking throughout the OOGA has allowed us to let more people know we go all the way up to Ashtabula.”
Shale-development’s impact on business:
Devco’s original client base had been conventional oil producers, but it recently has started hauling some Utica shale. Devco plans to continue to take care of its conventional producers, as this group helped to build the business, but sees the future where shale is heading and is prepared for it when the time comes.
“It’s only a matter of time where everyone has to put their hand in to keep up with shale development. These wells they’re drilling are huge, even with higher decline rates, they keep drilling a lot of wells. If they do decline, at some point, the rate will level out to a certain number of barrels a day, they’ll be around for a long time.”
Dever cited the decline in current oil prices as being a deterrent for new shale drilling, but foresees it taking a turn once oil prices bounce back.
“We’ve been through the booms and busts. These are expensive wells, if you’re spending 6-10 million it takes a long time to get a return on that investment. While prices are low Utica wells will remain low, but will come back once the prices take a turn.”
Dever sees that it has been proven that the oil and natural gas is here and it’s going to be around. He sees that companies continue to have infrastructure being built and even if they leave for a little while, the infrastructure will still be there to come back. He thinks that once prices rebound all of the infrastructure in place will be ready to be put to work.