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December 19, 2021

EQT Corp. is a venerable player in the energy business, going back 133 years to the earliest days of gas drilling in Pennsylvania, with headquarters in a granite-and-glass tower in Pittsburgh. But you’d never guess that from a visit to the office of Toby Z. Rice, its 39-year-old chief executive. Rice works out of a converted taekwondo studio upstairs from a state-run liquor store in suburban Carnegie, Pennsylvania, 15 minutes away from the city center. The dojo features a life-sized Iron Man sporting a gorilla mask on its head, graffiti-inspired art and a “Don’t Tread on Me” Gadsden flag.

How did this unconventional Millennial end up running the country’s largest producer of natural gas? By teaming up with family, lucking into the Marcellus shale formation at the right time and making very big bets.

Toby Rice’s partners in gas exploration are his brothers Daniel, 41, and Derek, 36. The capital that launched them was $70 million in loans from a trust fun­ded by their father. They have done well parlaying that stake: the three are now worth more than $700 million.

The Marcellus is a shale deposit stretching under­ground from New York to West Virginia. Fracking technology made this layer of rock valuable overnight, just at the time the brothers were getting into the gas business.

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