William J. Gilliam, CEO, Chairman and Co-Founder
Bill Gilliam has spent most of his 41 years of experience in industry and finance identifying opportunities in diverse industries, and leading the formation and transformation of large enterprises to address those opportunities. Bill has drawn from those experiences in creating the Badlands’ business plan. His operating experience in leading many of those enterprises provide a unique platform for the successful execution of the plan to build a major petrochemical enterprise to address and capitalize on the critical needs of oil and gas producers. He is the original visionary of the Company, its first seed investor beginning in late 2008, and the source of much its business knowledge.
Bill’s business career began at the end of his undergraduate years as both an analytical chemist and a technical salesperson for a major pharmaceutical company.
From 1973-1975, Bill was a process chemist, doing chemical analysis and process development work for Technology, Inc., a dedicated sub-contractor of NASA’s Skylab project. Bill’s activities included analytical chemistry involving water and fat soluble vitamin assays in Skylab food supplies, plus further commercial/industrial water and waste water analysis.
In 1975, Bill joined Merck & Co.’s Calgon Carbon Division as a salesperson responsible for sales of Calgon’s activated carbon services business, experience Bill would later use in his investment banking and operating career. After completing a Merck sponsored, part-time MBA from Pepperdine University in 1978, Bill moved to Merck where he gained experience in pharmaceutical marketing, finance, and corporate development.
In 1981, Bill joined Lehman Brothers Kuhn Loeb as a Vice President, Investment Banking, working primarily in Lehman’s M&A Department. He joined Thomson McKinnon Securities in 1983 as Managing Director, Director of M&A and the founder of Thomson’s dedicated M&A Department. Prior to 1983, Thomson had no M&A business, and during Bill’s 1983-1984 tenure Thomson’s M&A Department completed 10 transactions.
While at Thompson McKinnon, Bill led the led an effort to complete the spin off of Polaroid’s reprographic chemicals technology by former Polaroid executives and the financing of a manufacturing facility to exploit that technology. Bill had recognized the immediate and longer term need for Polaroid’s technology, but also advised the newly formed ChemDesign Corporation on the benefit of acquiring a traditional specialty chemicals business for it’s established cash flow. In 1983, with capital raised from the venture capital arm of Lubrizol Enterprises, financing for the construction of the manufacturing facility and for the acquisition of a specialty chemicals business from the Ansul Division of Wormald Corporation was completed. ChemDesign completed a successful IPO in 1988. In 1994, Bill recommended that Bayer AG (again drawing on his relationships, the CEO of U.S. Bayer was a director at Calgon Carbide), acquire ChemDesign, a transaction that was completed in 1994. ChemDesign, Bill’s first chemical industry LBO was due in large measure to Bill’s identification of investment opportunities that were not apparent to others, and the ability to raise capital for that effort by unique sources of capital that understood a niche chemical industry business.
In 1985, Bill and a management team completed the leveraged purchase of Calgon Carbon Corporation from Merck & Company. Bill was instrumental in executing that spin off, working directly with Merck’s most senior management to gain their approval and support. For the next 10 years as a very active director, Bill led dramatic changes at Calgon, first through the coaching of the newly independent Calgon management team, and then through the adoption of modern and efficient manufacturing processes, a refocusing of product priorities, implementation of creative incentive compensation programs and various other initiatives. Calgon’s completed a public offering in 1987 and in that year was the best performing IPO on the NASDAQ. The Company’s common stock was listed on the New York Stock Exchange (CCC) in 1989.
In 1986, Bill and his future partners Angus Littlejohn and Peter Joseph (DBA Gilliam, Joseph & Littlejohn, hereafter “GJ&L”) completed the leveraged purchase of Polymer Corporation from Chesebrough Ponds. From 1986 until 1991 Bill served as Polymer’s Chairman. Polymer Corporation was the U.S. market leader in the sale of engineering plastic resin shapes and specialty parts, and its European business was second in market share. From 1986 thru 1991, Bill and his partners transformed Polymer Corp, changing management both domestically and in Europe, refocusing the businesses efforts towards the sale of specialty parts and selling redundant assets. These efforts led to increasing annual EBITDA from less than $4 million to in excess of $25 million. In 1991 Polymer was sold to major competitor NV DSM.
In 1987, Bill and GJ&L entered into an investment agreement with affiliates of Drexel, Burnham Lambert (“DBL”). In that year, Bill and GJ&L agreed to purchase Rexene Corporation from its shareholders. Rexene was the chemicals business of El Paso Natural Gas, developing uses for natural gas liquids recovered along with Permian Basin oil and gas. Rexene had developed a refinery, a styrene/butadiene rubber facility, a nitric acid and adipic acid facility, ethane and propane crackers, a styrene monomer business, and both a high pressure low density polyethylene and a polypropylene business. Rexene had been owned by an investor group led by William Noel, one of El Paso’s founders who had purchased the business after Burlington’s acquisition of El Paso in the early 1980’s. Mr. Noel had been diagnosed with terminal cancer in 1986, and the Noel family hired Goldman Sachs to find a buyer. Few industry players demonstrated an interest due to the Company’s then out of date manufacturing facilities, and financial buyers were concerned about Rexene’s potential environmental liabilities and the prospect of a significant reshaping of the Company’s management team. Bill and his team identified a number of immediate profit enhancers, both in its supply chain and in pricing. They acquired the business in 1987, with Bill taking the leadership role created by Mr. Noel’s death. Under Bill’s leadership, Rexene began implementing major GJ&L recommended operational changes. These changes included designing and installing an NGL fractionator and successfully changing pricing for Rexene medical and electronic grade resin products. Over the course of the next two years, Rexene’s earnings rose from less than $7 million to $252 million in 1988. After the implementation of major structural and strategic changes, including the construction of a world scale polypropylene facility to serve the auto industry’s substitution of impact co-polymer PP for nylon and similar engineering resins in automobile bumpers instrument panels and door trims, Rexene’s EBITDA reached a steady approximate average of $400 million annually for the next three plus years, with Rexene becoming Fortune 500 Company #362 at its peak in 1990.
For the next decade, Bill worked as a consultant to the Trustee in bankruptcy for Marine Energy Systems, a company formed from the purchase of a division of General Dynamics of which Bill was a major shareholder. This experience led him to law school from 1999 to 2004, after which he worked doing appellate research and writing.
Reentering the investment arena affiliated with Constellation Partners, a merchant bank, Bill spent the next four years successfully managing the leveraged purchase of, and becoming a senior executive of businesses in the power generation, high technology fibers and plastics, specialty materials, pharmaceuticals and similar industries.
In 2008, after more than 20 years of working in and around specialty chemicals, and directly in both oil and gas production and related polypropylene facilities working with stranded gas and NGL’s, Bill identified the need for the conversion of those byproducts into badly needed chemicals. Bill seeded Badlands with its original capital, and began developing the business plan and assembling the Badlands team.