In the trenches

Find the right opportunities

Establishing a growth culture and finding employees who fit the culture will help you identify the growth opportunities that you want to pursue.

The manner in which you grow will likely be determined by a number of factors — your resources, the skill sets and backgrounds of your employees, and the landscape of the market.

In forming Valerus, McGhan and Erwin decided that the condition of the natural gas compression industry lent itself to organic growth. They grow Valerus by seeking out new opportunities in which they can leverage Valerus’ resources and core competencies for new customers.

But that hasn’t always been the case. In previous business ventures, the pair has grown through acquisitions.

“You have to realize that you can have growth opportunities in a number of ways,” Erwin says. “You can have them through company acquisitions or through organic growth, just building out the business one brick at a time. At Valerus, we completed one acquisition, but most of our growth has been by just identifying our customers’ needs.”

In order to stay adaptable to various methods of growth, you need to go back to the basic principles of communication and stay connected to your front-line employees by visiting them on their turf.

“If you can do that, you’ll be able to better embrace change,” McGhan says. “We look for opportunities to take advantage of changes in the marketplace and different profiles within our business segments. A lot of leaders have historically fought to keep things the same, but history shows that leaders who will embrace change and accept it will have a more successful organization.”

However, the ability to grow and adapt also carries with it the responsibility to know when an opportunity isn’t right. You must develop the discipline to walk away from a growth opportunity if the due diligence says you shouldn’t pursue it.

In their previous endeavors, Erwin and McGhan completed nearly 50 acquisitions. By the time they founded Valerus, experience had taught them the difference between a good opportunity and one that is not worth pursuing.

“We’ve had opportunities at Valerus where we looked at it, the employees fit, the products and services fit, but we’ve walked away because the owner we wanted to bring on board didn’t want to work at this anymore,” Erwin says.

“You have to do the analysis as to how they’re going to fit the organization and how the company will fit the culture you have. We look at the culture and the fit of the organization and see if the opportunity makes sense for us. We’re very conscious of the chemistry of our organization.”

How to reach: Valerus Compression Services LP, (713) 744-6100 or