Pro:File---J. D. Sandefer, III
Family, Football and Oil

By Scott L. Weeden, Editor

''We'd all like to do it an easier way,’ says J. D. ''Jakie'' Sandefer, III. He smiles as he continues, “I have never found anything worthwhile very easy. To be an achiever, there are a lot of obstacles in the path. Just hang in there until you weave through them or get around them and get the job done.”

From his boyhood home in Breckenridge, Texas, to the corporate offices of Sandefer Oil & Gas, Inc., in Houston, Jakie Sandefer never forgotten the lessons he learned growing up in West Texas.

Sandefer’s grandfather was President of Hardin-Simmons University for 31 years. His dad was an independent oilman who moved to Breckenridge at the height of that town’s oil boom. “My dad spent a great deal of his time being a spokesman for the oil and gas industry. He was the first president for the West Central Texas Oil & Gas Association and was on the Petroleum War Council for World War II and represented both the majors and independents in industry matters before the U.S. Government.”

'Nobody makes it cutting corners,'' Sandefer says. ''My mom and dad showed me sheer integrity. They had no patience for anyone who violated somebody else's privileges or took something from somebody that wasn't theirs.”

After completing high school at Breckenridge, Sandefer enrolled in the School of Business at- the University of Oklahoma. He was a starting offensive and defensive halfback for the Sooners in 1957 and 1958.

Looking back at that time in his life, Sandefer notes that Joe Kerbel, his high school football coach, had a strong influence on his life. “He was an ex-marine and a tough disciplinarian. I never paid the price for anything like I did to play football for Breckenridge. I’ve never known anybody as demanding as that man. Everything’s been easier since then,” he laughs.

When he started his collegiate career at O.U. in 1955, he notes, “My daddy was in the oil business and I always assumed I’d go in the oil business. I remember my dad told the dean of the School of Business that he didn’t want me to learn enough about any one thing that I could hang my shingle out to go work for somebody else.”

Still a strong O.U. supporter, Sandefer says he has been a long-time friend of Coach Barry Switzer.

In 1959, he went back to join his father’s firm. Two years later, he started his own firm. “I started with myself, a secretary and a geologist partner,” he explains. “We worked that way for about 10 years.”

Based in Abilene, Texas, the company prospered, but did not go in the directions he wanted it to. Then, about four years ago, he moved to Houston.

“I believe in investing in good people and sharing the success of our efforts with them,” he says. “We have worked hard at putting together a solid company with excellent joint venture partners. We have a $61 million dollar exploration budget for 1982.”

“We realize these are opportune times. With prices of drilling, and leases turning down, this is an excellent time for people who have money,” he notes. “There has never been a better time to drill for oil and gas, and we expect to have an increased budget for 1983. I’m optimistic on the industry.”

In putting together a successful company, Sandefer credits many people.
My dad was a successful oil operator. He was very well liked and had many friends. This helped open many doors for me. My brother-in-law is an independent in Breckenridge and helped me a great deal also.”

Sandefer also credits his dad for the philosophy with which he approaches business. “My reputation as a square shooter has helped me in every phase of life. I have always tried to be nice to people and treat them fairly. The reputation my mother and father had has helped me immensely.”

He believes the success of his company is based on teamwork. “Any company is a teamwork situation. No one person can do everything. We have assembled a first class team. I have a lot of enthusiasm or they wouldn’t be here.”

His family is very important to him. Sandefer has three children: Jeff 22, a recent University of Texas petroleum engineering graduate working in Dallas for Enserch; Julie, 20, a student at Southern Methodist University, and Laurie, 18, also an SMU student.

“I’m very close to all my children and it’s great to have all three kids in one city,” he says. “That way I can see them all on one visit.”

Sandefer was divorced when Jeff was nine. Jeff lived with his father while the two girls lived with their mother. “I’ve been very fortunate with Jeff. He’s always had straight A’s. He has been very interested in energy and is business oriented. Julie and Laurie have done just as well. I’ve tried to guide all my children. I have two older sisters who were also very influential on my children.

“I would like to think I am being a good example,” he explains. “Sharing with my kids and family has had a lot to do with the motivation I had in things I tried to do.”

He considers work to be his hobby. “I enjoy associating with oil people,” he notes. “I enjoy making deals as much as anything.”

His pride in his children and accomplishments shines through easily. After graduating, his son wrote him a letter thanking Sandefer for taking the time to be at his football games and track meets. The letter means a great deal to Sandefer, who cherishes the closeness he has with his kids.

When asked what his parents would say if they could see him today sitting in his office on the 23rd floor of a downtown Houston bank building, Sandefer replies, “Dad would probably have a heart attack. He wouldn’t believe it. He would be proud, but he’d be worried about the overhead. Mom would be proud. She wouldn’t be worried. She knew I’d make it.”


Sandefer Heritage