John K. Wilson
Chief Executive Officer
In 1980, John K. Wilson joined what was then Western States Oil Company, Inc. as a staff landman. A graduate of Michigan State University’s School of Business, John determinedly worked his way up the corporate ladder, becoming Vice President of Land in 1989. Upon retirement of T.T. Thompson, founder of Western States Oil, John purchased the company in 1992 and changed the name to Western Land Services, Inc. With persistence and dedication, John expanded the company’s footprint across the nation and shifted Western Land’s focus from traditional oil and gas leasing services to a full-service mentality. By growing the service portfolio to include not only traditional leasing and title work, but also project layout and design, wildlife and environmental studies, and coordination of field activities, John wisely positioned WLS in the market to offer comprehensive solutions to clients facing industry challenges. Outside of the organization, John shines in the community as a humanitarian, contributing to local charities and fundraisers and leading efforts to improve the livelihoods of others. Often, he incites WLS employees to do the same by creating company-wide challenges to raise money, which in the past, has even resulted in the CEO, himself, jumping into the frigid early-spring waters of Lake Michigan. It goes without saying that John has masterfully positioned WLS as a key player in the oil and gas industry and in the local community at large.
A graduate of Michigan State University, with a B.A. in Political Science, Rich began his career in the oil and gas industry with Western States Oil in 1986. After 15 years with WLS, Rich held several executive level positions in prominent oil and gas companies, including CMS Energy, Epsilon Energy, and Trendwell Energy. His corporate experience has led him to all major U.S. onshore energy basins, as well as several international regions, with a significant presence in the Powder, Marcellus, Utica, and Michigan basins. In both operational and non-operational roles, Rich has assisted in the drilling of over 2,000 wells and has supervised traditional land functions, as well as regulatory, operational, and government affairs, while facilitating the creation and growth of numerous industry groups in support of domestic drilling. To expand on his government relations, he has dealt directly with four governors to help educate them in the tremendous benefits of the United States oil and gas business. His professional portfolio is also recognized for successful completion of over $300 million in acquisition and divesture deals. Today, he finds himself back at WLS, and as President, plans to continue driving the success of the company that launched his career by pushing it to new heights. A member of the AAPL, MAPL and IRWA, Rich has an established reputation in the industry as an avid philanthropist and successful entrepreneur.
Director of Human Resources
In March of 2014, WLS brought on its newest member of the Executive Team – Rick Mason, bringing with him over 30 years of experience in the Human Resources field. His prior experience boasts an array of noteworthy companies, including AT&T Wireless, FedEx, and Movie Gallery. Though this marks the beginning of his time with the oil and gas industry, Rick’s strong versatility is evident from his demonstrated human resource prowess in retail, transportation, distribution/logistics, telecommunications, health care, and manufacturing. Rick is also recognized for his success in developing and leading human resource teams during periods of rapid growth and acquisitions. As a Michigan State alumni, Rick acquired an MBA in Human Resource Management and a BA in Telecommunications. He also holds a lifetime certification from the Society for Human Resource Management as a Senior Professional in Human Resources and is a former board member of the Bandon Community Health Center.
Director of Land & ROW
Mark was introduced to WLS and the oil & gas industry in 2002, when he began his career in the title department of the Sheridan, Wyoming office. As a recognizably adaptable asset to the company, he later moved to Ludington, MI where he was charged with managing the GIS and IT departments. With his exceptional leadership and management skills, Mark was then given the opportunity to lead a right-of-way project, where he was able to further develop his knowledge and versatility in the land business. Within a short period of time, Mark was promoted to project manager of a six-person leasing project in Arkansas, which quickly evolved into a 120 person project. Since 2010, Mark has managed countless right-of-way projects in Pennsylvania, focusing heavily on the Marcellus/Utica basin, and ranging in all scopes and sizes. In 2014, Mark was again recognized for his success and promoted to Director of Land – Eastern U.S., where he is responsible for overseeing all projects, staff, and offices in the Eastern United States. Mark is a Certified Professional Landman, as well as a member of AAPL, MAPL, and the Central Arkansas Landman Association. He also holds a BBA in Human Resource Management and an MA in Organization Psychology from Western Michigan University.
Business Development Manager
A 20+ year seasoned professional of the industry, Brian graduated from Western Michigan University with a BS in Business Administration, and joined Western Land Services as a Staff Landman in 1996. From there, he quickly worked his way up to project management, and was eventually promoted to Michigan Land Manager in 2007. Experienced in all facets of land services, Brian has managed leasing, title, abstracting, right of way, and permitting projects for oil, gas, and renewable energy prospects in Michigan and beyond. Today, as Business Development Manager, Brian promotes Western Land’s vision and oversees Business Development initiatives on a national scale, connecting customers’ needs with the expansive services offered by WLS. Brian is a Certified Professional Landman, as well as a member of the AAPL, IPAA, IRWA, and multiple other industry associations across the country.
With a BBA in Business Management, Heather joined WLS in 2011. Today, she oversees the GIS Department, encompassing staff and projects in multiple offices across the nation. From customized, quality project support to best in class takeoff services, Heather administers one of the largest GIS Department’s in the brokerage industry. At its peak – 70 GIS Specialists. She works closely with project managers, directors, department managers, support staff, and clients to ensure their mapping needs are fully accounted for. Combining her management and marketing expertise with a passion for GIS and the industry, the GIS Department at Western Land Services has seen substantial growth under Heather’s leadership. Her invaluable client and partner relationships, ability to identify new business opportunities through the understanding of markets and client needs, and efforts to integrate the latest technologies, have been fundamental to that growth.