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Oilman Kirk Edwards named Entrepreneur of the Year

Council cites work for Odessa, oil patch acumen

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Posted: Thursday, April 2, 2015 5:45 pm

The Odessa Chamber of Commerce on Thursday named Odessa oilman Kirk Edwards Entrepreneur of the Year, citing his work developing mineral assets, his real estate investments and his work to help the community grow.

“Kirk has proven to be an extraordinary entrepreneur and oil and gas man,” said Mike George, president and CEO of the Odessa Chamber of Commerce. “He has an innate sense of timing for purchasing properties and liquidating them. And his community involvement has been tremendous. His leadership in spearheading the campaign to bring Division II football to UTPB was outstanding.”

Edwards said he was humbled by the community recognition, presented at a luncheon at the Odessa Country Club attended by a couple hundred business and civic leaders.

“That’s what makes Odessa so special,” Edwards said. “The people who have made the town are very much a group of entrepreneurs and people who have stayed here, enjoyed living in Odessa and watching it grow.”

The chamber also inducted new members into its 2015 Business Hall of Fame: Jimmy Breaux of PEMCO Equipment; Robert Chavez of Permian Machinery Movers; Josefina Hooker of Freedom Buick GMC Trucks; Kenneth and Jo Lunceford of Slip Service Company; and Larry Melton of Johnson, Miller and Company.

Edwards, a lifelong Odessan and former city councilman, began his career as an oilman in 1982 as a petroleum engineer for Texaco. About four years later, during a devastating bust, he founded his first oil company, Odessa Exploration.

He would sell the company in the early 1990s to Key Energy, joining as a board member and executive vice president.

The company grew from 600 employees when Edwards joined the board to more than 10,000 workers when he retired in 2001. Since then, Edwards’ work focused mostly on acquiring and managing mineral rights as a non-operating interest.

After Key, he established MacLondon Royalty Company, named after his daughters Mackenzie and London Edwards. Edwards and a group of partners kept growing MacLondon and decided to form a conglomerate in 2009 called Las Colinas Energy Partners.

Edwards served as CEO. The group sold the company, which counted more than 9,000 wells among its assets, for an undisclosed amount in November.

The idea was to focus as CEO of a new oil company operating in the Panhandle called Latigo Petroleum.

“Latigo had grown so big, so fast with the drilling we were doing that it was time to concentrate on that part of my business,” Edwards said.

Edwards counts the nonprofit medical organization the Mayo Clinic as his chief investing partner. He has managed the groups’ mineral rights for years.

"That creates a lot of good things that affect a lot of good people through medical education and research," said Jimmy Goates, a friend of Edwards and former councilman who served as emcee of the event.

After developing what Edwards estimated to be about $50 million worth of wells last year, the company has scaled back as oil prices hover below $50 per barrel.

“Like everyone else, we are just sitting back right now waiting to see what oil prices are going to do and what service prices are going to do before we tippy-toe back into the waters of drilling wells,” Edwards said. “I think it’s so uncertain still for months ahead.”

Another of Edwards’ ventures includes real estate. Along with banker Don Wood, he developed residential properties in rapidly growing east Odessa.

Those developments include Vista La Paz, the subdivision where Edwards lives. They also include the subdivisions Vista Del Norte and Tres Vista. At the time, building in that part of town was minimal. But the developers intentionally sited the properties in Ector County to make sure the broader community benefitted from property taxes.

In January, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick appointed Edwards to an energy advisory committee. Past appointments included the board of the Dallas Fed’s El Paso branch.

Lately, Edwards said he has been helping other Odessa business people raise money for a statue honoring Odessa-born Chris Kyle, the slain military veteran depicted in "American Sniper."

State Sen. Kel Seliger, who defeated Edwards in a run for the District 31 seat in 2004, introduced a resolution recognizing the Odessa businessman for the Entrepreneur of the Year award.

“Kirk Edwards has had a profound impact on the energy industry and the community of Odessa, and it is truly fitting that he receive special recognition for his many achievements,” reads the draft of the resolution.

 Other legislators at the state and federal level issued proclamations too, along with Mayor David Turner, who said Edwards "embodies" the spirit of entrepreneurship and community involvement.

Melton, Turner's predecessor, said that's historically been the case.

"Kirk has done a tremendous job for this community and always has," Melton said. "He continues to look for innovative ways to improve Odessa. He was a perfect choice."

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