Marsha Hendler: [Entrepreneurship] Will Be the Hardest Thing You Will Ever Do, and What Will Set You Apart From Others Will Be Your Tenacity and Determination

Marsha Hendler is the Founder and CEO of TerraFina Energy, a Texas independent oil company.  Ms. Hendler founded TerraFina Energy in 2011.  Ms. Hendler graduated from the University of Houston with her degree in Business Management, specializing in Global Hospitality Leadership. 

During the initial Eagle Ford boom in the early 2000’s, she worked providing marketing services to many oil and gas companies.  It was during this time she became enchanted with the possibilities and process of oil and gas production companies and decided to move into the oil and gas industry.

Supported and encouraged by men who had long histories in the Texas oil patch, whom she lovingly refers to as her “Bubba’s”, she decided to become an O&G Operator.

She has had success in her current operations and either owns or produces more than 30 wells at this time. She aims to become the largest and most profitable Woman-Owned Independent operator in Texas.   

 Ms. Hendler’s business management skills transferred seamlessly to the oil patch, and she has worked to understand every aspect of the industry, from drilling, completing, and workovers to land work and LOS settlements. Ms. Hendler has built a solid team to assist her in her current operations. 

She is actively involved in many community events and councils in San Antonio, TX, including serving on several local Boards of Directors.  This list includes the North San Antonio Chamber of Commerce and the Association for the United States Army.

At the request of the Mayor of San Antonio, Ms. Hendler serves as a member of the City of San Antonio’s Airport Advisory Commission. She has been an active member of the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers, the South Texas Wildcatters, and the South Texas Women’s Energy Network.

She is serving on the Energy Committee of the Dallas Federal Reserve.   Hendler was inducted into the Order of the Cascaron; the highest honor given to Fiesta volunteers , and has served as an active member of the San Antonio Stock Show, Rodeo’s International Committee, and the Wine Committee.  She is a member of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas.  

In November 2013, Hendler was inducted into the University of Houston’s Hilton College of Global Hospitality Leadership distinguished alumni organization and is currently serving on the group’s Executive Committee.

In 2021 Ms. Hendler was chosen from more than 10,000 candidates to be a part of Forbes Magazine’s inaugural Women 50 Over 50.  She joined the group as they traveled to Abu Dhabi, UAE in March 2022 for International Women’s Day. 

Other recent honors include Acquisitions International naming Marsha “Most Influential Oil and Gas Businesswoman for 2021, and in 2002 named her Female Oil and Gas CEO of the Year.

ALLY honored her with a GRIT award for 2021, and The San Antonio Business Journal recently honored Marsha with their 2022 Women’s Leadership Award. 

What lessons has being an entrepreneur taught you?

PATIENCE!  It’s like building a house.  You can drive a few boards into the ground and throw some plywood around it all, and you have a home.  If you want it to stand the test of time, you need to pour a concrete slab, let it cure, and then carefully build the structure.

To others, it may appear as if it all happened overnight, but most often, there are months and years of hard work in place before that success “just happens”.

If you could go back in time to when you first started your business, what piece of advice would you give yourself?

This will be the hardest thing you will ever do, and what will set you apart from others will be your tenacity and determination.  The easiest thing you can do is quit.  You never know what is just around the corner.

A lot of entrepreneurs find it difficult to balance their work and personal lives. How have you found that?

I have found that to be difficult.  I will confess I am not that well-balanced, and it is something I am working on.  My career seems to always come first.

I don’t regret spending the time and focused attention I am building TerraFina because I believe we will reach a point soon when I will be able to exhale and enjoy what I have built.

Give us a bit of an insight into the influences behind the company?

Once I made the decision to become an operator, I was determined to build the largest woman-owned independent oil company in Texas.  I want to prove to other women there is a place in the oilfield for them as operators. The operator controls the project, so we need more women at the big table.

What do you think is your magic sauce? What sets you apart from the competitors?

As a female Oil and Gas Operator I do stand out in a field of men.  I don’t know that competition is a factor in what I do, but I believe being a female has worked to my advantage, and I do stand out, and that makes TerraFina more recognizable.

How have you found sales so far? Do you have any lessons you could pass on to other founders in the same market as you just starting out?

I don’t know that this applies to our situation

What is the biggest challenge you have faced so far in your business, and how did you overcome it?

There is no question that the greatest challenge to any independent oil operator is funding their projects.  A great deal of my time is spent either communicating with investors or seeking investment funds.

What do you consider are the main strengths of operating your business in Texas over other states in the US?

Texas produces the largest volume of oil and gas in the country.  The economy of Texas has been built on O&G for years and years, so while our local government can be a challenge, they are also pro-drilling, and that thinking can be very helpful.

Are there any disadvantages of operating our business in Texas?

When it comes to oil and gas, probably the greatest disadvantage to working in Texas is it is so big.  You may hear about a great opportunity in one section of the State, but before grabbing it up, you must consider how you would work and service it.  If you spread yourself out too thin, it can be a real problem.

Texas has a pretty diverse population. How have you found the quickly changing demographics have impacted your business? Have you got new opportunities? Managed to expand your business into new areas?

This really does not apply to our sector.

It is often reported that, in Texas, politics and business are intertwined. Have you noticed this? Has it impacted your business?

Energy is pretty much a part of every political campaign…local, county, or statewide.  The energy sector touches every home in some way.

With rising prices across Texas (and the US as a whole) have you been impacted? Do you have a plan for dealing with inflation going forward?

With the rise in oil and gas prices, the availability of work crews and materials and become more difficult to find and expensive when you do. 

What do you want to accomplish in the next 5 years with your business?

We are currently attempting to purchase two new projects.  Should we be successful with both, the next five years will be spent on their development and perhaps eventual sales to another group.

And finally, if people want to get involved and learn more about your business, how should they do that?

That’s a difficult question.  I just made the decision I wanted to be an operator and did it.  I would never suggest someone else follow my path.  This is my third career, and it has been the hardest thing I have ever put together.  It has also been the most fun.

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