How Bruce Northcutt overcame hurdles and used innovation to guide Copano Energy LLC

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Bruce Northcutt, President and CEO, Copano Energy LLC
Bruce Northcutt, President and CEO, Copano Energy LLC

Bruce Northcutt
Director, President and CEO
Copano Energy LLC
When Bruce Northcutt took the reins in 2009 as CEO at Copano Energy LLC, he faced a number of challenging circumstances. The company’s founder had just passed away and the economy was in the throes of a deep recession. Further, there was a great deal of uncertainty as to the future direction of the energy industry.
But Northcutt had been with Copano Energy since 2003 as president and COO, and he had helped take the company public in 2004. He knew what the company did well and was confident he had what it would take to steady the organization during this difficult time.
Northcutt has never been afraid to work with smart people, even if they were smarter than he was. The value of bringing this knowledge to the table and applying it to the future of his business was worth much more than stroking his own ego.
During the global recession in 2009, Northcutt and his leadership team knew they had to be proactive and reduce operating costs to avoid layoffs. The team brainstormed as a group and produced a list of some 100 items they could cut back on, with the exception of those related to safety, in order to keep all team members and avoid having to reduce distributions to shareholders.
Changes ranged from temporary salary cuts, to eliminating small luxuries like bottled water in the office. These ideas allowed the company to avoid layoffs and pay shareholder distributions as scheduled.
Innovative thinking has paved the way to success at Copano Energy, and Northcutt encourages his team members to do the same by using their imaginations at the company to find solutions to difficult problems.
Kinder Morgan Energy Partners, one of the largest publicly traded pipeline limited partnerships in America, completed on May 1 its acquisition of Copano Energy.
How to reach: Copano Energy,