Through Lean Times and Growth at C&J Energy

Acquisition-related growth creates multiple management projects at C&J Energy Services. Marty Kunz has found that learning to juggle responsibilities was as essential to his success as any formal training

Marty Kunz, C&J Energy Services

In considering this job, I learned C&J Energy was a rapidly growing (almost hyper-growth) company. And I looked back at my career and all the experiences I had at Mustang Engineering, and I realized I had a great opportunity. How many people get an opportunity like this? I got to come to a company similar to the very first one I worked at, knowing now what I didn’t know back then. C&J had slightly fewer than 2,000 employees at the time I came on board. To get a chance to manage human resources and apply the twenty years of experiences I had under my belt at the time—that really was attractive to me.

Because there was no previous leadership in human resources, during that first year and a half, I spent a lot of time fixing problems, cleaning up issues that had been left alone. It was some low-hanging fruit at first: combining the different rules, policies, and procedures; payroll; and other things that needed to be harmonized with the C&J way. But I was also given the opportunity to hire some really good people and build the department. We have improved our benefits and improved and standardized our pay practices. We’re able to plan our workforce a lot better and more strategically now. Overall, the department is much more professional than ever before.

One thing I’ve learned in prior human resources experiences that I definitely apply at C&J is to always have a good idea of the leadership’s goals. Having conversations with our CEO about his plans for expansion has helped me considerably, because then I can be proactive, or at least be as prepared as I can be for what comes down the road. We’ve gone from around 2,000 employees the day I got hired to what will be roughly 11,000 by the middle of 2015. And CEO Josh Comstock and president Randy McMullen are already telling me we’re not done!

Another bit of advice: if you get headstrong and don’t develop the ability to change midstream, you’re not going to be successful. It is going to become about the rules, policies, and procedure, and not about serving your internal customers. We are a support function within a service company—that was hard for me early in my career. Because you get taught in school, “these are the rules; these are the laws, all companies have to abide by these”— you set your policies, procedures, and ways of doing things around a lot of the legislative laws. The older I’ve gotten, the more I try to impart flexibility within my team.

A philosophy I’ve developed is this: things are never as good as you think when they’re good, and never as bad as you think when they’re bad. The oil and gas business is most definitely a roller coaster.

As we face the first market downturn since I came to C&J Energy, we’re trying to be very smart about redeploying our assets, putting our employees in areas where we still have work going on. But I feel that lessons learned from previous downturn experiences will be remembered: always treat employees with respect, communicate as much as possible, and always take care of them—especially during market downturns. And do it in a way so that when the industry rebounds from this downturn—and we know it will—those people will remember, and we’ll be able to get them back into the C&J Energy family.