It’s no secret that partnerships are key to a successful business, and in the Texas oilfields, no one understands that better than Douglas Cain of Lake Truck Lines and Michel Hewitt of Halbouty Energy. Their businesses benefit from the support of each other, and a large part of that is due to the fact that Cain and Hewitt are great friends and have close family ties.
“In 1949, my father was operating his truck company – Lake Truck Lines – on the back parking lot of the North Side State Bank in Houston,” Cain explains. “He did a lot of business at the bank and eventually bought stock in the bank, when he was asked to sit on the board. The chairman of the board was Michel T. Halbouty, one of the original Texas wildcatters. The two of them were the closest of friends for 50 years.”
It was about a year-and-a-half ago, Cain says, that the Oil & Gas Convention in Houston was holding a luncheon to honor the “legends of the oilfield,” and Michel T. Halbouty was the main honoree. Cain sponsored the luncheon and took a photograph his mother had given him of his father and Halbouty from the 1950s, and had that photo blown up to poster-size.
“It was there that I met Michel T. Halbouty’s daughter and her son, Michel Halbouty Hewitt,” he says. “Michel Hewitt and I are taking these relationships to the next level because there is value in that continuity. My dad was close with Michel T. Halbouty and George H.W. Bush, and now I’m close with Michel H. Hewitt and George P. Bush.”
Hewitt adds that the Cain/Halbouty relationship has been great for business. “Doug’s father and my grandfather were together for a long time, and in addition to being great friends, Lake Truck Lines did a lot of work with my grandfather’s businesses,” he says. “With Halbouty Energy, I reconnected with Lake Truck Lines, and Doug and I are carrying on the tradition.”
Making an Impact
Halbouty Energy is a specialty petrochemical company based in Houston and Lake Truck Lines is a provider of oilfield transportation and logistics with operations throughout Texas. Hewitt explains Halbouty Energy was in the exploration business when it started, but it sat dormant for several years after his grandfather died in 2004.
One day, Hewitt got a call from a colleague who needed hydrochloric acid, and “within 48 hours we became one of the largest independent suppliers of hydrochloric acid in West Texas,” he says. From there, Halbouty Energy started getting calls for other chemicals and materials, and eventually began manufacturing the various drilling fluids and chemicals itself, supplying service companies and operators. Lake Truck Lines helps Halbouty Energy service its customers by managing all of its shipping and hauling needs.
“Lake Truck Lines is a major partner – we can’t do anything without their help,” Hewitt stresses. “If we can’t get our product to customers on time, we don’t have a business.”
Both businesses are growing rapidly – Halbouty Energy has attracted the attention of the super-majors in the industry, and Lake Truck Lines has grown by more than 300 percent in the past two years. Hewitt and Cain agree that the strength of their relationship is great for both of the businesses, but it is the result of the values they share. In particular, integrity and the dedication to carrying on the good work their family members did before them.
“I want to continue to ensure the Halbouty name is known for the utmost dignity and integrity,” Hewitt says. “At the end of the day, our honesty and integrity is all we have, and I am not going to tarnish my grandfather’s reputation.”
They are showing their dedication to the industry by giving back, such as by working with bioremediation and salt remediation experts to clean up the land damaged by the oilfields and bring back the local vegetation.
“We have a vision to lead the industry and be better stewards than how we found it,” Cain says. “We really want to make a difference. There are reasons much greater than making money that Michel Hewitt and I were put together. From a legend comes a legacy.”
Cain explains he and Hewitt are working together, going out to community leaders around the oilfields and ensuring that local residents are benefiting, as well as the oil companies.
“You can’t just write checks,” he stresses. “We have to build a sense of pride that an old dirtwater town in south Texas never had. The pumps are primed with oil, now we have to build these towns as centers of prosperity. We can help them manufacture something, distribute something and help these people do something. With this oil and gas activity, we can fundamentally change the landscape of how people live. Michel Halbouty Hewitt shares in this vision with me and we will be joined at the hip for the rest of our lives. We really want to impact the lives around us.”