Rare Gem: Building TerraFina Energy Into One Of America’s Biggest Woman-Owned Oil Companies

“You know, little girl, I’ve been watching you,” the longtime oilman said to Marsha Hendler. “You get this business; you need to be an operator.” Some women would have taken offense at being called “little girl.” Instead Hendler saw a golden opportunity to be mentored and, in the process, gained a close friend – “my number one bubba” – until his sudden passing last December.

Despite not having a background in energy – aside from the oilfield service companies that were clients of the marketing company she owns – Hendler was intrigued with the industry and, after giving it some thought, came to the conclusion that she did indeed “get it” and want to be a part of it.

When she founded San Antonio-based TerraFina Energy, LLC, in 2003, Hendler was on her third career. A graduate of the University of Houston (‘73), Hendler has a bachelor’s degree in business management, specializing in hotel and restaurant management, and was in the hospitality industry for many years before going into marketing. Of the three careers, she has found energy to be the most challenging and also the most rewarding. Contrary to what some might think, she also has found it to be the least sexist.

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