Jerome (Jerry) Fullinwider, Vice Chairman and founder of Hillwood International Energy, a privately owned oil and gas exploration and development firm recently shared his story of success to standing room only crowds as part of Northwood University’s Outstanding Business Leader events. Northwood recently honored Fullinwider as one of nine nationally known business men and women at its 32nd Annual Outstanding Business Leader (OBL) Awards Gala which was held at The Breakers, Palm Beach, Florida.
After beginning his career with Standard Oil of Ohio, and later as General Manager of Cherry Brothers in Dallas, he saw opportunity in 1964 to become an independent oil operator in West Texas, his longtime goal.
Aware that major oil companies were exiting West Texas while still holding a huge inventory of leases on millions of acres of potential oil property, Fullinwider figured he’d be able to get the departing businesses to assign him certain acreage free if he would agree to drill a well and pay them a small royalty. There was his opportunity. So in 1964 with only $5,000 in the bank, he moved his wife and two young daughters to Midland where he knew only three people. He and his partner, Victor Vasicek, founded V-F Petroleum, Inc. and slowly capitalized on contractual agreements with major lease owners known as “farmouts.”
The first year Fullinwider lived in Midland funds were meager. He took home $8500 for the whole year, but remarked that life was good because it was a fine place for the children to grow up and they were only three blocks from schools and church.
Thanks to years of dedication and calculated risk, things began to pay off financially. By 1989, his business had increased substantially, and Fullinwider, along with four prominent oil company heads, was invited to Houston to meet with high ranking Soviet oil officials. Soviet oil production was in steep decline so the Soviet Ministry of Fuel & Energy sent groups to various western oil centers seeking advice. In attending this first meeting, Fullinwider began what would become a long-term relationship with several well-placed Soviet officials.
After having founded VF-Russia, Inc. to investigate oil opportunities in West Siberia, Fullinwider voiced his interest in developing oil fields in the Volga-Ural Basin of southern Russia and in 1991 received Soviet permission to do so. It wasn’t long before VF-Russia had 107 Russian employees who Fullinwider later described as ‘some of the best educated and innovative workers he had encountered.’ Ministry officials refer to him as the only independent oil operator in Russia.
VF-Russia proved successful in its development, forming BaiTex LLC, which now operates and develops oil fields in the Baituganskoye region of southern Russia.
With domestic offices in Texas, and international locations in Kurdistan (Iraq) and Russia, Fullinwider has spoken widely on current Russian affairs. He received his Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Southern Methodist University in 1951, and is a 1953 graduate of the United States Naval School of Justice in Newport, Rhode Island. He was awarded a Doctor of Laws honorary degree from Northwood University in 2007. In May of 2011 he celebrated the establishment of the Jerome M. Fullinwider Endowed Chair in Economic Freedom at Southern Methodist University. In addition, he has served on many boards including Northwood University Board of Trustees and Board of Governors.
Northwood University annually recognizes a select group of men and women for their business achievements and for their support and exemplary leadership of the communities in which they live and work. These individuals serve as role models for Northwood University students, all of whom are engaged in the study of business management and who aspire to successful careers. In the 32 years since the program’s founding, more than 300 business leaders from more than 30 states and several countries, representing dozens of industries and fields of business expertise, have received the Outstanding Business Leader Award.
On Friday, January, 20th 1-3 pm, the day preceding the Gala presentations, Northwood University students asked questions of the OBL Class of 2012, as well as past honorees, at an afternoon “Ask the CEO” forum held at Northwood’s Florida campus. The forum provided the opportunity for honorees to share anecdotes relating to the obstacles and challenges they encountered while on their personal road to business success, as well as remedies relating to how they overcame them.
Northwood University is committed to the most personal attention to prepare students for success in their careers and in their communities; it promotes critical thinking skills, personal effectiveness, and the importance of ethics, individual freedom and responsibility.
Private, nonprofit, and accredited, Northwood University specializes in managerial and entrepreneurial education at three full-service, residential campuses located in southern Florida, mid-Michigan and northern Texas. Adult Degree Programs are available in eight states with many course delivery options including an online option. The DeVos Graduate School offers day and evening programming in Michigan, Texas, Florida and Switzerland. The Alden B. Dow Center for Creativity and Enterprise in Midland, Michigan, specializes in creative thinking and innovation development. International education is offered through study abroad and in Program Centers in Switzerland, China, Malaysia and Sri Lanka. Northwood University also operates the Margaret Chase Smith Library in Maine.