When it comes to entrepreneurship, the United States has been at the forefront of encouraging most states to embrace it. Oklahoma has been no exception to this suggestion and has cultivated some real titans of industry. With new programs like Tulsa Remote, Oklahoma's innovation and economic growth continue to build.
Oklahoma's Most Prominent Businesses
New businesses are formed rapidly, from LLCs to start-up corporations. This continued growth has put Oklahoma on the map and encouraged entrepreneurs and tech companies to move to Tulsa and Oklahoma City. Don't believe us? Let's look at ten businesses that started in Oklahoma and have contributed to the state's growth.
Founded in 1966 by H.E. "Gene" Rainbolt, BancFirst started as Federal Nation Bank in Shawnee, Oklahoma. Federal National had roughly $16 million in assets at the time of purchase. During the 1970s, Rainbolt acquired interests in several rural Oklahoma banks and formed Thunderbird Financial Corporation to facilitate management services for these locations.
BancFirst was formed from this growth on April 1, 1989, with a corporate headquarters in downtown Oklahoma City. Rainbolt was instrumental in updating the dated banking laws that would allow multiple banks to merge into one corporation. BancFirst now operates in 60 Oklahoma communities with over 100 unique service locations, also powering the ATMs in Oklahoma stores, including Walgreens, 7-Eleven, and E Z Go Foods.
2. Chesapeake Energy
Headquartered in Oklahoma City, Chesapeake Energy was founded in 1989 by Tom L. Ward and Aubrey McClendon. The company built a sizable position in South-Central Oklahoma by digging horizontal natural gas wells in unconventional reservoirs. These drilling locations were extended to include Southeast Texas, East Texas, Northwest Louisiana; however, some of these locations have since been sold off.
The company is most well-known for its engagement in hydrocarbon exploration and produced roughly 445 thousand barrels of oil equivalent each day in 2020. In 2007, Chesapeake Energy was honored by Forbes as the "Best Managed Oil-and-Gas Company" and was ranked 51st out of the "100 Best Companies to Work For" by Fortune in 2014.
3. Continental Resources, Inc.
Established in 1967 by Harold Hamm, Continental Resources, Inc. is a well-known petroleum and natural gas exploration and production company with headquarters in Oklahoma City. Unlike other state competitors, the company focuses primarily on hydraulic fracturing and directional drilling to facilitate low-permeability formations.
In 2020, Continental Resources could produce roughly 300 thousand barrels of oil equivalent. This monumental achievement allowed them to reach an impressive ranking of 581st on the Fortune 500 list. The company is also known for introducing the ECO-Pad® Drilling Technique – allowing the drilling of 4 wells from a single pad.
4. Devon Energy Corporation
Another famous energy company that focuses on hydrocarbon exploration, Devon Energy Corporation, is also headquartered in Oklahoma City. Coming to the industry later than the previously mentioned oil and gas companies, Devon wasn't founded until 1971 by John Nichols and his son J. Larry Nichols. The company primarily operates on shale groups in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and within the Rocky Mountains.
By the end of 2020, Devon Energy Corporation proved reserves of roughly 752 million barrels of oil equivalent. Surpassing Continental Resources, Devon has also been ranked 520th on the Fortune 500.
5. Love's Travel Stops
It's hard to spend much time on an Oklahoma highway without running into a Love's Travel Stops and Country Stores location. In fact, the company's reach expands far beyond just Oklahoma, featuring more than 500 truck stops and convenience stores in 41 different states. These locations could be a fueling station with a convenience store attached or a more extensive travel stop featuring showers and partnerships with notable restaurant chains.
In 2008, Love's Travel Stops and Country Stores opened its first truck tire care center to cater to the trucking industry. This has now grown to include a nationwide network of repair centers that offer light mechanical work, roadside services, trucking equipment, and much more. In 2019, the company signed a sponsorship deal with the NBA's OKC Thunder to prominently display its logo on the front-left shoulder of the jerseys.
6. OG&E Energy Corp.
Established in 1902, the Oklahoma Gas & Electric Company (OG&E) serves over 843,000 customers throughout Oklahoma and Arkansas. With a diversified range of power sources, OG&E owns roughly 450 megawatts of wind power and began offering this choice to retail customers in 2003. This, and other energy sources, make OG&E the largest electric utility provider within the state of Oklahoma.
In 1986, OG&E merged with Enogex; a company engaged in natural gas gathering, transportation, storage, and marketing. Enogex operates a pipeline that runs approximately 8,000 miles in conjunction with six processing plants that provide 23 billion cubic feet of gas storage. In 2013, Enogex entered into a limited partnership with CenterPoint Energy called Enable Midstream Partners.
Founded in 1998 by Chad Richison, Paycom is a leading payroll and human resource technology provider. The company, headquartered in Oklahoma City, is often attributed as being the first fully online payroll provider within the United States. In addition to this accolade, Paycom is also one of the fastest-growing publicly traded companies worldwide, according to Fortune.
In 2019, Paycom was named one of the Wall Street Journal's "Best Managed Companies" in 2019. The S&P 500 also added the company to its list in the same year. Recently, Paycom announced the release of "Beti," an enhancement to their proprietary payroll system that allows employees to complete their own payroll.
8. Sonic Corporation
Affectionately known as "America's Drive-In," Sonic Corporation was founded as Top Hat Drive-In in 1953. While this initial location was in Shawnee, Oklahoma, the company now has 3,551 Sonic Drive-In locations in 46 different states. Most patrons will know it by the covered drive-in stall system that the business continues to use today.
In 2020, Sonic Corporation added drive-through options to their existing format to better serve customers. The "Two Guys" television advertising campaigns began nationwide during the same year. Sonic is well-known for carhops delivering food on roller skates. For this reason, the company holds an annual competition at their locations to determine the best skating carhop companywide.
9. SandRidge Energy
Another notable hydrocarbon exploration company, SandRidge Energy, is organized in Delaware – yet is headquartered in Oklahoma City. One of the more recent newcomers to the field, SandRidge wasn't founded until 2006 by Tom L. Ward. As of 2020, the company reported 89.9 million barrels of oil equivalent.
The company manages what is known as the Sandridge Permian Trust, an owner of royalty interest properties found in Andrews County, Texas. SandRidge Energy has had several disruptions during their short time as a company, including filing bankruptcy in 2016 – citing high debt load and low commodity prices.
10. QuikTrip Corporation
Opening the first location in 1958, QuikTrip Corporation has grown substantially over the last five decades. From humble beginnings in Tulsa, Oklahoma, QuikTrip locations can now be found in 11 different states nationwide, with over 900 unique stores. With innovative grab-and-go and made-to-order food options, QuikTrip is much more than just another fueling station.
In 2015, QuikTrip Corporation partnered with Folds of Honor to sponsor the FOHQT500 NASCAR race at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. Two years later, QuikTrip Corporation was also named one of Fortune 500's "100 Best Companies to Work For" for the 15th consecutive time. To learn more, check out the Why Not Oklahoma feature on QuikTrip's history!
Let's Continue to Build Oklahoma Together
While only a tiny sample of the businesses started in Oklahoma making a national impact, this is an excellent primer to show our residents' dedication and commitment to making the state the best it can be. If you are a business owner, we encourage you to claim your free or premium business listing to be featured on Why Not Oklahoma. If you don't own a business, you can still find one to support in our database. Together we can give Made in Oklahoma products and businesses the exposure and support they deserve.