How Entrepreneur Of The Year™ winners from the Houston regional program are making their voice heard at the EOY national program

With 25 regional EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ programs, making the cut to become a finalist in one of the 11 national award categories is tough — you’re competing against more than 200 of the nation’s top entrepreneurs. So landing three national finalists and one national category winner is something worth talking about.

Last year, the Gulf Coast Area region landed four of its 11 regional EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ winners on the national stage: Steve Pate, chairman and CEO of Strike LLC; Kenneth L. Robison, CEO of Crest Industries LLC; Peter M. Duncan, founder, president and CEO of MicroSeismic Inc.; and David Dunlap, president and CEO of Superior Energy Services Inc.

Duncan was the 2013 national winner in the category of Energy, Cleantech and Natural Resources. Dunlap was a finalist in the same category. Pate secured finalist recognition in the Real Estate, Construction and Lodging category and Robinson was named a finalist for the Family Business Award of Excellence.

Smart Business caught up with Dunlap, Pate and Duncan to discuss innovation, overcoming challenges and the impact of participating in the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ program. You can read more of the interview online at


David Dunlap

President and CEO

Superior Energy Services Inc.

How is your organization innovative?

Our company is comprised of businesses that have been acquired through the years — all within oil and gas services.

Rather than integrate, homogenize and sterilize these very successful entrepreneurial efforts, we have created an environment where the founders stay on board after selling their companies, and continue to provide leadership to the very businesses that they founded. This gives us what we describe as a “founders’ mentality” in which decision-making is largely decentralized and the businesses are given the freedom to form themselves in a way that is most acceptable to their local customer base.

We all agree to standards of governance, compliance, safety and environmental protection but field execution is a function of local customer requirements and the businesses are free to form themselves to suit the customer.

The result is an atmosphere of independence and even though we are a large company we retain the air of a smaller independent business.

Describe your involvement in the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ program and its impact on you and your organization.

I was pleased and surprised at the positive response in our organization to this award. We are all very proud of what we are achieving at Superior Energy Services and the Entrepreneur Of The Year™ recognition really helped to validate the progress that we are making.


Steve Pate

Chairman and CEO

Strike LLC

How do you approach challenges you and your organization face — such as economic shifts, market changes, etc. — in such a way that you’re able to adapt and overcome them to succeed?

All great leaders face adversity and obstacles. Over the course of my career, I have faced many unknowns, whether financial or legal in nature, which challenged my decision-making. I always stick to my core principles and the word impossible has never been part of my vocabulary.

Strike’s 58.4 percent year over year compounded annual growth rate (2009-2013) is testament to our ability to take risks during times of uncertainty. In 2009, while many companies were hoarding cash due to the instability in the market place, I gave approval to the IT department to invest significant resources in the creation of a state-of-the-art cost-tracking portal. This portal has proven to be a competitive advantage and differentiator for Strike as it provides complete transparency to our clients’ job cost.

Additionally, Strike launched Campaign for Change in 2012, representing Strike’s philanthropic endeavor. The primary purpose is to create approachable opportunities for employees to get involved in our community.

Campaign for Change exists to (1) raise awareness and educate Strike employees, family and friends on the significance of giving; (2) provide opportunities to give time and resources to local communities and throughout the world; and (3) to impact others by changing ourselves.

In 2013, the Strike family volunteered more than 11,000 hours in addition to financial support to make a difference in the lives of others. A collection of organizations supported include Habitat for Humanity, Freedom Place Shelter,, Sky High for St. Jude’s, the U.S. Army, KaBoom and disaster relief efforts for the cities of West, Texas, and Moore, Okla.

I strive to take every opportunity, good or bad, to raise the bar higher.

Describe your involvement in the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ program and its impact on you and your organization.

My journey with the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ program began in spring 2013. It was a true honor to be named the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ 2013 Gulf Coast Region Award for Construction and Industrial Services. I am so thankful that God has given me the opportunity to lead the Strike team. A true success story is never only one person — I have six incredible partners and more than 2,500 talented and dedicated employees that have made Strike what it is today.

At the EY Strategic Growth Forum® in November, I was very impressed by the program that was presented. I was able to meet many leaders from other states and listen to inspiring and informative presentations. I was honored to be named a finalist in the category of Real Estate, Construction and Lodging at the National Awards Ceremony.

I am very thankful for the contacts I have made, the speaking opportunities that have come my way and the business ventures I have learned about from being a part of the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ program.

This program includes names of many highly regarded and successful individuals that I looked to for guidance and inspiration. It is an absolute privilege to be included in this program and recognized for my role in leading an incredible working family whose dedication makes a difference, not only in the energy industry, but in the lives of others as well.


Peter M. Duncan

Founder, president & CEO

MicroSeismic Inc.

How is your organization innovative?

We began with an innovation — hydraulic fracture monitoring using surface arrays. The legacy providers of this service said it could not be done, but I had done the math and believed it could.

For the first five years of our company we had a dragon to slay — the belief that fracture monitoring had to be done with downhole arrays. That mission drove us to innovate on field array design and data processing so that we could produce a superior product at a competitive cost, and then convert the clients to our vision, one geophysicist at a time.

The innovation was certainly technical, but there was also a marketing and messaging innovation required as we strove to convince the market that this “new” technology was not only real but an improvement over the old way of monitoring.

Describe your involvement in the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ program and its impact on you and your organization.

The EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ program has had a huge impact on me personally and my management. I have attended two of the annual events in Palm Desert. These have been, without a doubt, the most inspiring, invigorating and instructive conferences I have ever attended. The “can do” atmosphere at this conference is so thick you can cut it with a knife.

There you are in the midst of 2,000 motivated business adventurers who don’t even know how to spell the word fail. Just networking with these individuals and sharing their stories of challenge and success is enough to justify the trip. But then there are the guest speakers and roundtables with hugely successful people who have “been there and done that” in all sorts of enterprises from sports to banking to, well, even yogurt manufacturing. Each session gives you a multitude of lessons to take away. After each event I have returned to my company empowered and able to empower my team to reach even higher.