In 1965, when James E. “Jim” Ferrell took over his father’s tiny butane company, it was struggling, directionless and worth less than its debt. Under Jim’s leadership, that same family business, now known as Ferrellgas, Inc., grew exponentially into a Fortune 1000 company and one of the largest propane distribution companies in the world with more than 3,600 employees nationwide and approximately 1 million customers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
The growth of Ferrellgas did not come easy. Jim and his wife, Zibbie, worked tirelessly in those first years to turn the company around. Through hard work and innovation, the company began to prosper. In 1994, Ferrellgas became one of the first of the new generation of publicly-traded master limited partnerships (MLPs) by taking nearly half of the company public on the NYSE (“FGP”). In 1998, Jim also led the formation of Ferrell Companies Inc. Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). Today, Ferrellgas is one of the 20 largest companies in the country that is partially owned by a broad employee-ownership plan.
Following the Ferrell Companies ESOP transaction, the family office, Ferrell Capital, Inc., was created to manage the financial, business and personal affairs of the Ferrell family – Jim & Zibbie, their two daughters Kate Banks and Sarah Southwell and their families. Over the years, Ferrell Capital has provided asset management and investment services for the Ferrell family with investments in real estate, banking, investment advisory services, private equity and other passive and active assets.