THIS LANDMAN: Q&A with William Prior III, CPL
Q: Why is it important for your clients to know you personally when considering Prior Land Management for a project?
A: You really need to know who you’re dealing with in this business. You should be conversant with their education, training, experience, character, and professional goals, before exposing your prospect to any third party.
Q: On that note, let’s talk about your education.
A: I am a University of Texas at Austin business school graduate, BBA-PLM. The UT PLM program was the grandfather of all the current professional land management programs currently offered around the country. Some pretty ‘big wheels’ in our industry graduated out of that program. I chose that path because my grandfather and my father had both been very successful in the oil business, and it was a natural fit. After some years in business I joined the American Association of Professional Landmen (AAPL), and in 1992 proudly became (and remain) a Certified Professional Landman.
Q: What did you do after you graduated?
A: I went to work ‘in the field’. We were abstracting title, buying leases, curing title, buying right-of-way; basically handling all of the efforts ensuring solid contractual relationships between operator and landowner. I worked as an independent contractor for quite a few years under the mentorship of some incredibly gifted professionals. Eventually this led to our formation of Prior Land Management.
Q: You mentioned the importance of prospects understanding the goals of someone in your position. How would you describe your goals?
A: My professional goal is very simple --- to facilitate the professional goals of my client, in the most exceptional manner. The many challenging aspects of this service demand experience, dedication and character. We have the experience to deliver an exceptional result; timely, and under budget.
Q: You’re a third-generation member of this industry. Tell us a little about your family business tree.
A: I grew up in an oil and gas family.
My father, Tom Prior, was a West Texas wildcatter from way back in the 50’s. I was born in Abilene, but along the way we hit Midland and Tulsa, and finally landed in Houston. Dad was a partner in Mejlaender & Prior, a small exploration company, and later Prior Exploration Company. They were drilling wells in Southeast Texas and Southwest Louisiana through the 60’s and 70’s. Like many, then and now, we were alternately 'rich' and 'poor'.
My father was ‘directed’ into the business by his father, Frank Prior. My grandfather graduated from Stanford as an Electrical Engineer. On his way to Philly to start his first job, the train stopped in Wyoming, he stepped off and never got back on. At first glance, he saw boundless opportunity. He was a very hard charger, rising quickly through the ranks, and retiring in 1954 as Chairman of Stanolind.
Q: What keeps it exciting for you after all these years in land services?
A: It never gets old, nurturing the many challenging aspects of our services into a high quality custom product that truly excels. The moving parts can be quite complex and difficult to gather, reconcile, and craft into deliverable product. We are very good at this, and there’s great satisfaction every time we deliver.
Q: What do you like to do when you’re not working?
A: We are pretty much 24/7, but my wife, Melissa (also a CPL) and I find that taking time together to lightly travel, work out and ride our bikes to be excellent balancing practices to an otherwise high velocity lifestyle. And last, but not least, we are enthusiastic members of The Woodlands United Methodist Church.
Q: And if anyone wants to chat with you?
A: Just give me a shout! Let’s have lunch and get to know one another.