PITTSBURGH – A little more than 100 days since ascending to the top at EQT Corp., Toby Rice agreed his firm is on sure footing in the natural gas industry – but is striving to operate on even sturdier turf.
“I’ve always defined success as not what you’ve accomplished, but what you can accomplish with your ability,” he said Wednesday morning. “We want to realize all that we can. We want to be the company people turn to, we want to be a company employees want to work for.”
Rice, the president and chief executive officer, helped to kick off the first full day of Shale Insight, a natural gas industry-related conference conducted every autumn at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in downtown Pittsburgh. He and David Spigelmyer, president of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, engaged in a half-hour, question-and-answer session.
EQT is based about three blocks from the convention center, a company Rice became more than acquainted with two years ago. Rice Energy, the oil and gas exploration operation he and brothers Dan and Derek launched in 2008, was purchased by EQT in November 2017 for $6.7 billion.
Now, he leads his former rival.
Rice discussed strategic plans, technology and a desire to connect with stakeholders – specifically landowners, communities, employees and shareholders. He spoke about six hours before President Donald Trump was to give his keynote address before a large crowd.
“Stakeholder engagement is terribly important,” Rice said. “Sometimes, people lose sight of that. But we could not be successful without landowners and so many others. We want to make sure we are the best partners we can be.
“We want to be a values-driven organization, and the No. 1 value at EQT is trust,” he added. “We want our stakeholders to trust us.”
The Rices started their company in an apartment 11 years ago and located it in Southpointe. In a quick turnaround, they processed their first lateral gas well in 2010.
They nurtured their enterprise into one that would go public in January 2014 with 145 employees, and eventually grow to a payroll of 600. Rice Energy got too big for its offices in Southpointe and moved to a much larger building in the Zenith Ridge development in Southpointe II in early 2016. The merger with EQT played out about a year and a half later. A number of EQT employees are working in Southpointe II.
Last October, Toby Rice started a proxy battle to restructure leadership of EQT. Nine months later, in July, he emerged victorious. Rice now leads the firm and is on its board, along with his brother, Dan IV.
About six weeks ago, EQT cut one-fourth of its workforce – 196 of 800. Low prices of natural gas have beset the industry, but the company attributed the furloughs to “streamlining.”