NMSU branding

New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

News Center




Prominent oil and gas industry leader visits New Mexico State University

From oil rig roughneck to President and CEO of Panther Energy Company II, LLC, Berry Mullennix credits his time at NMSU for growing his entrepreneurial spirit. Mullennix shared this with dozens of students in the College of Business as well as those pursuing their own businesses and inventions in partnership with the Arrowhead Center.


Man standing and talking in front of a room of students.
Berry Mullennix, a former NMSU student, talks with students at Arrowhead Center about the importance of entrepreneurship, thinking spatially and hard work. (Photo by Angel Mendez, May 2018).
A student sitting next to a man showing him his project.
A student at Arrowhead Center presents his prototype and business idea to Berry Mullennix during his visit to New Mexico State University (Photo by Angel Mendez, May 2018).

Mullennix started flipping burgers at age 13 – a characteristic of hard work that carried on while he attended NMSU to pursue a business administration degree.

“I struggled,” he said. “My Dad passed away when I was 19. I slept in my car because I couldn’t rent a room. I could barely afford the $800 tuition. Let’s just say, I ate a lot of ramen noodles.”

Eventually, his part-time job to pay for college, driving to the San Juan Basin along the Colorado and New Mexico border and working as a roughneck drilling holes every weekend, became priority. Yet, his drive to start a business never faded. A few years later, Mullennix’s first company, a local construction and remodeling business in Dallas, was just over a year old before a European corporation purchased it from him. That’s when Mullennix re-entered the oil and gas industry, starting and selling four exploration and production companies during the decades that followed.

Today, Panther Energy Company out of Oklahoma is a leading oil and gas company, specializing in the horizontal exploration of unconventional zones as well as in developing conventional reserves of both oil and gas.

“My life is easy now,” he said. “I use the time I have as an opportunity to help students, the nation and the energy industry by giving back.”

Students at Arrowhead Center showed curiosity in the challenges the oil and gas industry face, specifically toward the negative perception of fossil fuels and the environment.

“We will be using fossil fuels for a long time,” Mullennix said. “We use it for trade, we use it for power – everything. Right now, the most promising alternative hasn’t been invented yet. In fact, we should be pouring money into universities like this and students like you to find that replacement.”

A few students shared their business models and prototypes, including a 3D printing cast company and an aerial imaging system.

“We could’ve used you 30 years ago,” Mullennix told them after presenting their ideas. “My advice is that you keep thinking spatially. Keep your options open, be tenacious and remember that luck looks a lot like hard work.”

Mullennix hadn’t been back on campus since 1983 but was eager to visit and share his experiences when invited by the NMSU Foundation. Mullennix’s return to NMSU is part of the foundation’s initiative to connect successful alumni with students and provide mentorship from industry experts.