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Energy Advisory Board Spotlight - Keith Mosing By Janet Miranda

Image of Keith Mosing

Keith Mosing is currently the Chairman, CEO and President of the Mosing Group as well the owner and CEO of Katy Nissan. Mosing Group previously owned Western Airways, Inc. where he was the Chairman and CEO. He was also the Chairman and CEO emeritus of Frank's International and Frank’s Casing Crew and Rental Tools, Inc.

After attending university and serving in the U.S. Army, Keith moved back to Lafayette, Louisiana, to work in the family business, which was founded in 1938 by his grandfather, Frank Mosing. He moved to Houston to expand operations to Texas and Oklahoma, and in 1981 formed Frank’s International, expanding the company to 66 locations worldwide.

Mosing was named Energy and Energy Services Entrepreneur of the year in 2003 by Ernst and Young and the Houston Business Journal.

He also serves as a director on the boards of the Memorial Hermann Foundation, KickStart Kids, Houston Police Foundation and The Joy School.

The following conversation has been edited for clarity.

UH Energy: How did you get involved with the Energy Advisory Board, and what perspective would you say you bring to the role?

Keith Mosing: Eloise Bryce (Vice Chancellor/Vice President of University Advancement) asked me to join. I’ve lived in Houston since 1973, and it’s a great city that has given me so much, so I’m happy to do anything I can to contribute.

I’m very proud to be involved with the board. Some of my favorite moments take place at the board breakfast meetings. It’s refreshing to talk to students who are just starting their careers.

UH attracts a diverse range of students, and it’s interesting to learn about their backgrounds, especially having traveled to many parts of the world during my time in the military and for Frank International’s global expansions.

I love working with students. I think I’m getting more out of this board than I’m giving, but I still love to give what I can.

UHE: You led your family’s business and currently run your own. Did you always see yourself at the helm of a company?

KM: I never thought I’d be in a leadership position. Instead, I always tried to do the best job I could to take care of our clients. I was given many privileges, including growing up watching my dad and my grandfather work in the family business.

My dad was the first person to ever attend college in our family; he graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering and worked on drilling rigs for his father. I was born a few months after my father graduated from college, and as the oldest of four children I got to go out with him and gain knowledge of the industry.

I went out on the steam rigs, way before electric and diesel drilling rigs. In fact, I got my first job in 1964 at 14 years old, changing the oil on company trucks and working on equipment. As the company grew, people started looking to me and I gained more responsibility.

As an avid aviator, I would jump in an airplane and fly myself to different locations. It made a difference for our customers when we serviced international clients.

UHE: You have had a long career in energy. How has the sector changed?

KM: I think what really helped is the modernization of equipment. On the exploration and drilling side, I’ve seen rapid change in communications as the world became more interconnected.

My father used to work on steam rigs with derricks made from wood instead of steel. Now there is better equipment that allows for efficiency, better communication, and higher standards of safety. We can log wells more efficiently using seismographs and look for perspective oil fields without having to drill the hole.

I’ve been in this business for over 55 years now, and I think our overall progress has been amazing.

UHE: What leadership skills did you learn running Frank’s International that contributed to your success?

KM: I was fortunate to come from a family who taught me a lot of lessons. If my grandfather shook hands with you, he gave you his word and that was his contract. As I came of age, I knew how important reputation, honesty and integrity were to doing business. I can't stress how important it is for young people going into the field to know that your reputation and doing your job are so critical. Reputation never goes away, and it can’t be camouflaged.

My leadership style comes from lessons such as sticking with your team and honesty. When we tell a client something, it’s something we can deliver. I think that gets you more repeat business.

It’s also important to constantly educate yourself and learn something new every day. You can be the most brilliant engineer in the world, but if you can't communicate, you can't put your ideas into words.

UHE: How has the Mosing Group weathered the COVID-19 crisis? How have operations changed for the sake of safety?

KM: When Mosing Group owned Western Airways, a management charter company, we increased the frequency of sanitation of our airplanes. We made sure to go through protocol to ensure the safety of our passengers and our crew.

We also own office buildings and industrial warehouses, which is a bit simpler. If you walk into our buildings, you see that we have all kinds of signs to remind others to keep six feet apart, along with security folks taking the temperature of people entering the buildings. It’s become standard.

I think about the folks in World War II, not having much to eat and soldiers defending their country. We’ve been through tough times before, and as much as I don’t like it, this is something we must bear and get through. I feel extremely sorry for the graduating seniors at UH and other universities who are graduating under these circumstances.

It is a very scary time, and I think we must all pull together and do our part. For example, many international students had to overcome a lot of obstacles. It’s an extremely tough time, but it's going to make us tougher one day when we look back on it.

UHE: What advice would you give to students going into the energy field now?

KM: When we talk about energy, we include a wide range of professionals, not just engineers. As in the military, we have a huge operation behind the scenes. Everyone is there to support the mission. I’ve witnessed the ebbs and flows of the industry, going through booms in the ’80s and lows in the early ’70s. Lows are an opportunity for change and innovation. Even during tough times, there are things that create opportunity.

Another thing is education. I believe investing in education is the biggest thing that we can do for our future. If you look at all the things that we have to offer with all the oil companies here in Houston, it’s mind-blowing.