It is with mixed emotions that I am announcing my retirement from working full time in the oil industry. I’ve spent close to 40 years in this industry, the last 17 years with Sayer Energy Advisors, and I’m ready to throw the alarm clock into the trash and turn off my electronic devices (except for receiving and looking at pictures of my grandchildren!).
I’m sad to think that I won’t be working every day with the fantastic team that we’ve built at Sayer, but I’m happy to know that the ship will be left in good hands. My wing man for the past 17 years, Tom Pavic, has taken over from me. He will be assisted by Ben Rye, who has rapidly become a key cog in the Sayer wheel, Lori Deagle who has been my “Radar O’Reilly” for years (Only those of you with grey hair will get that one!), Lashanna Lawes, Brooke Knies, Grazina Palmer and Bev Buckley, all of whom have toughed it out and put up with me for years!
ALAN TAMBOSSO’S CAREER REFLECTIONS
I didn’t plan to become a mergers and acquisitions (”M&A”) specialist in the oil industry. Hell, I didn’t even plan to enter the oil industry, the industry that I grew to love so much. For those of you who are interested, here’s a bit of a retrospective of how my career morphed to where it is today. To those of you who aren’t interested, thanks for being a big part of my business life, and you can stop reading any time you wish!
In high school I decided to go to university to become a Geological Engineer because I wanted to work in the mining exploration business so that I could get paid to go camping while searching for buried treasure. Life is so much simpler when you are young!
After two four-month stints in the late 1970’s living in tents and looking for base metals and uranium in the blackfly infested and perpetually rainy bush of Nouveau Quebec / Labrador and then a third stint working for the Geological Survey of Canada in the Barrenlands of the NWT, I decided that I wanted to live in a house, and go camping on weekends, only in nice weather. That desire left only one viable outcome, to head west to Calgary to become an oilman and search for a different type of buried treasure.
I cut my teeth with a major oil company, securing a position with Gulf Canada Resources in 1981, when Calgary was reeling from the effects of the National Energy Program. I had no clue as to the damage that was being done by the actions of Canada’s first Prime Minister Trudeau during his fourth elected term. Sure, I knew that many companies had reneged on employment offers to new grads, and I heard the employment door slam shut right after I went through it and started my new job, but heck, I had just finished university, I had left home, I had a job, a paycheque, an apartment, a car, life was great! Little did I know!
In five decades spanning two centuries and two millenniums I’ve experienced several downturns and industry gut-punches, including the aforementioned NEP-induced one in the early 1980’s, the devastation to the Calgary housing market caused by exorbitant interest rates in the mid-1980’s, the oil price crashes of 1986, 1999, …, the changes to the Alberta royalty structure (“Our Fair Share“) announced by Premier Stelmach in 2007, the royalty trust tax change slaughter in 2011, three federal elections that were won by people named Trudeau (and three more before my working years)
Regularly during the latest downturn people have asked how the current slump compares to other ones I have experienced. From the outset I have said that this one seemed deeper and darker than any others. Who would have guessed how deep and dark it would get!
The remarkable thing is that our industry is very resilient. It always bounces back. Hopefully we will see a huge bounce this time, like a ball, where the harder the ball falls, the bigger the bounce is.
During the oil price crash in 1986 I watched in horror as friends and colleagues lost their jobs. In some cases, large companies which had employed hard working people for several profitable decades tossed them onto the street because of a short stretch of bumpy road. It was at that time that I decided to forego the idea of staying with mother Gulf for years to collect my gold watch. I needed to take control of my career and my future. I needed to run my own oil company!
To learn how to do this I resigned from Gulf and went to a junior public company where I learned how small companies run. After a few years there, I looked for and found a start-up public company where I could learn how to access the funds to build and grow a company. As VP I got my fill of this necessary evil called “capital markets” as our company, a “market darling” (for a while!) made good use of the markets, growing from 100 boepd to almost 10,000 boepd in four short years.
I resigned from that company completely burned out, in need of a rest from managing the expectations and demands of the public markets. After painting my house (which every geologist does between jobs) I reached my goal of running my own oil company by starting a small private company, backed by a few friends and family members.
When I tried to sell that 165 boepd private company some time later, the heads of the two M&A shops in Calgary refused to help me, saying my company was too small for them to make enough money on. After they both flipped me the bird, I returned the greeting, telling them that I’d do the small deals in town some day and I’d make a good living doing them. I then marketed my company on my own, laying the bricks for my future as an M&A advisor.
After selling the public company which I had sold my private company to, I started doing more small M&A deals on my own, eventually teaming up with the founder of Sayer, Frank Sayer, who was looking to retire. He had built Sayer into a great brand, and we both thought that layering my business onto his made sense. Although other moves enhanced my knowledge and usefulness, that move was by far the best move of my career.
Someone recently asked me what the best thing to come out of my time with Sayer was. Hands down it has been the pride of seeing the people I worked with, my “Sayer family“, grow as individuals and gel as a team. The success that we’ve all enjoyed at Sayer is solely a result of their dedication and hard work.
I’m so proud of seeing the tremendous personal growth and success of many of the young people whom I took under my wing at Sayer and at other previous stops along my career path. It has been amazing to watch them evolve to become well established, successful members of our industry.
The most enjoyable part of my career, and the thing that I’ll miss the most, has been dealing with the great people in this industry. I have nothing but enormous respect for the vast majority of people who have crossed my path. The great people I’ve dealt with are too numerous to mention. The legends of our industry whom I’ve crossed paths with have always fascinated me and I’m grateful to have been able to connect with so many of them.
I will say that if the ride I’ve had in this exciting business was a ride at the Calgary Stampede it would be a roller coaster that would take many tickets to get on! Like a Stampede Midway ride, once you get on, you never want to get off, but alas, it’s time for me to let the younger people have a seat.
I’m stepping off the ride knowing that the M&A market is in great hands, as the next man in line, Tom Pavic, my wing man for the past 17 years, is taking control of the Sayer ship, backed up and assisted by a fantastic crew! I’ll be sticking around for a while as a consultant to help them through the transition, but the company is now Tom’s to run with.
It’s been a blast! Thanks to all of you for being so wonderful to deal with and for making it so much fun to go to work every day! It never really felt like work!