For someone who attended Devine public schools in only grades four through six (1979 through 1982), Bryce Conway developed some lifelong friendships from Devine. One of those friendships is Clifford Belor (DHS Class of 1988). Another is David Norris (deceased, 2019), Devine Junior High band director at that time.
As referred to in the recent article on his sister, Janet Leatherwood, Bryce‘s parents, Gene and Judy Conway, were teachers in Natalia High School. Gene was the high school band director there. Bryce recalls that his father would always let him play the drums with Natalia’s marching band back in the early 80s, whether it was in the bleachers during football games or marching with them during parades. At that time, Bryce was only 10 years old.
Bryce started fifth grade in Devine playing percussion, and this is also where his interest in live music started. In the sixth grade, he shares that he and Cliff Belor would stay after school in the band hall and learn off-the-wall songs and cadences. Bryce recalls that he played the xylophone while Cliff played the trap set. They learned their favorite pop and rock songs and even created some of their own random cadences. Eventually, Bryce and Cliff “took our newfound talent and delivered it to the masses by entering our first talent show in the Devine Junior High auditorium,” playing their own interpretation of the Peanut’s song, “Linus and Lucy”. For their efforts, they earned second place, losing to Shari Cowan who sang Olivia Newton John’s “Physical”! However, in their next talent show, they “kicked it up a notch by adding a few sixth-grade dancing girls, Candice Cantrell and Shana McGinnis,” and performed their own rendition of the Safari’s “Wipeout”. This time, they earned first place!
Bryce relates that he kept up with his junior high band director, David Norris, over the years, even texting up until his untimely and shocking death a few months ago. Bryce recalls that Mr. Norris “provided comfort and support“ when his dad, Gene Conway, passed away on May 10, 2012. They, too, had remained close friends as they “maneuvered“ through their music careers. Bryce even fondly recalls his dad‘s birthday on March 28, 1980, when his family was sitting around the dinner table at their house on Zig Zag Drive and heard a trumpet coming from the front lawn. It was David Norris playing “Happy Birthday” to his dad. Bryce suspects that that friendship possibly contributed to the fact that Cliff and Bryce were allowed to stay at the band hall past closing time “with no supervision.”
Because of the move so his parents could pursue a doctorate degree, Bryce eventually graduated from Hanna High School in Brownsville, TX, in 1988. And, while in high school, he took piano lessons, got his first synthesizer, and joined his first rock band, Allied Forces. The group wrote their own songs, and Bryce reflects that it was a “real experience“ to have been able to participate in a rock band “with extremely talented friends” playing at many of their high school dances. This experience allowed him to participate in his first live gig as well as recording in a recording studio for the first time. He also had the “coolest job” in his senior year working at Musicland at Sunrise Mall.
Straying from the music world for a time, Bryce attended Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford, OK, where he received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry and a minor in biology. His first job out of college was as a chemist for Halliburton during which time he designed frac fluids and cements for oilfield applications. As his career and experience advanced, Bryce decided to leave Halliburton and venture on his own by starting his own company, Flex-Chem, in 2000. Flex-Chem (www.flex-chem.com) is an oilfield chemical service/technology company with over 60 employees and four locations throughout Oklahoma and Texas. It specializes in production chemicals, stimulation, frac water recycling, analytical services, acidizing, and pressure pumping.
Bryce elaborates, “Flex-Chem has given me the platform to be innovative with my chemistry abilities by allowing me opportunities to create technologies which provide solutions in the oil and gas industry.” The company has US and international patents ranging from innovative frac water recycling to a time-release frac additive for control of subterranean skin damage to a stimulation patent – a technology which is “a big deal for our company,” Bryce states, one they proudly named OptaSTIM. This is a process to chemically un-swell clays found in tight shale formations worldwide, including the prolific Eagle Ford shale, which lies underneath the Devine/South Texas area.” Bryce adds, “Un-swelling shale leads to improved permeability, which basically allows the well to ‘breathe better’ and produce up to four times its initial production.“
Meanwhile, music has always continued to be important in Bryce’s life. In 2011, he was invited to join the Texas Country/Red Dirt band, No Justice, from Stillwater, OK, as their keyboard player. (No Justice was started by Bryce’s freshman roommate at SWOSU and best friend, Jerry Payne, in 2001.) No Justice has released five albums with combined record sales topping 100,000 units and achieving two number one hits and eight top 10 singles on the Texas Music Chart. As a part of this band, Bryce says that he has experienced quite an adventure, traveling all over the country and meeting some very interesting people. One of those interesting people, he touts, is Willie Nelson, “who told me not to name drop!“ (LOL.) Bryce recorded on the last album America’s Son, which produced three Top 10 Texas Music Chart hits and one music video, which was produced and filmed by Bryce’s sister, Janet Leatherwood, out of Miami, FL. A No Justice recording, “Love Song”, is also featured on the game Rock Band on PlayStation, Xbox, and Wii.
Along the way, Allied Forces has continued. Although the lineup has changed, the lead singer still continues to be Jay Perez, and all of the original band members make it down to Brownsville, TX, once a year for an Allied Forces reunion. They all play together at some venue for 45 minutes or so, and then they let the current band members take over.
A boon for the Brownsville community, in 2014, the group organized the Rock the Park Music Festival, featuring local bands and Flex-Chem acting as primary sponsor. This is its fifth annual year, and it will take place on August 10, 2019, at Dean Porter Park in Brownsville. They are organized as a 501-C3 nonprofit organization with an eight-member board — Bryce serving as Vice-President and Flex-Chem as Presenting Sponsor. Portions of the proceeds go to various local charities in Brownsville and surrounding communities. Their goal is to support the arts community in the Rio Grande Valley by providing a venue for local artists, as well as for Grammy-winning national acts.
Bryce lives in Edmond, OK, and is a proud father of two sons: Kennan Conway, 15, and Jett Conway, 12. Bryce describes Kennan as being “crazy smart with my math skills that rival any NASA engineer!” And, although described as being slightly introverted, Kennan is committed to his guitar lessons and hopes of being in a rock band himself someday. Bryce describes Jett as being the extroverted son and an “adrenaline junkie who will entertain anyone who will be his audience!” Jett’s Instrument of choice is the drums. He also loves video games, breakdancing, and his cat, Tuffy.
Bryce raises his boys as a single dad, which, he says, “…can be more challenging than running a company.” Realizing the importance of being the primary role model in their lives, Bryce strives to always lead by example and to do the right thing, which means always putting God first. The family attends Memorial Road Church of Christ in Edmond.
Already a very accomplished and successful man, Bryce admits that he still has a long list of goals to achieve. In part, these involve his company, music, and travel. But, his primary goal is “to prepare my boys to lead happy, successful lives on their own.” And he adds, “I’m definitely looking forward to checking that goal off my list one day and celebrating!”