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Navajo Refining, Artesia, NM

Posted by Pete | Posted in News | Posted on 03-09-2012


My very first customer as a salesman, many years ago mind you, was Navajo Refinery. It was a learning experience for me and it took them a while to train me. I mean that in a good way. For example, I was always hounding the guy who headed up the asphalt department about his road jobs, where they were, who the successful bidder was, when they were going to start, how many loads of asphalt per day were required and on and on…One day he says to me, “you do know that you can get a lot of the same information I have by joining the Associated Contractors and receiving the bid sheets and getting all the bid letting and successful bidders, etc, every month.” Well, I did not know that but we did start and as a company developed the weekly “asphalt plan” that was put together each week by me and  came out every Friday afternoon and was sent to all the terminals outlining how many men and units they had to send to work certain jobs. This was done by our operations Vice President and  everyone at the terminal levels hated it. All us guys working with the customers loved it as we kept equipment where it was needed and when it was needed, but all drivers were working and except of rains and breakdowns, they made good money. If rains or breakdowns shut down a job, our drivers screamed as they worked on commission…. But back to Navajo Refinery, I have very fond memories of that company and all of the employees I worked with there. I just felt like “one of the boys” for the most part. But when they called and needed something, I jumped….I mean really. And my boss did also. Over the years I called on many companies and had excellent relationships with most of them, but Navajo always was special. You know, I even dream about  them from time to time. In a dream the other night I was wandering down through the refinery, by myself and one of the workers found me strolling and wanted to know who I was and where my visitors badge was…I tried to tell him that everyone knew me,  but we had to look a long time to find anyone that could remember who I was….I imagine that in “real life”  not too many remember the old bald headed sales guy any more. Most all the people I worked with has relocated to Dallas….Oh well, so it goes, and I guess fond memories are all most us old folks can hope for…That’s not true either as I stay very busy, but thanks to the folks at Navajo for the good relationships and long time ride…It was a good’un…….Pete Hester

Comments (2)

I know where you are coming from. I was a member of Toastmasters with the chemist who headed the asphalt department at the Lion Oil Refinery (formerly Tosco Corporation) in El Dorado, Arkansas. I know nothing about the asphalt business from a sales viewpoint; but, I became very familiar from my association with him and, particularly, from his many speeches, of the problems involved in making quality asphalt for various customers. The asphalt business is driven by sales and, also, by research. It is not high class research that generates new knowledge and new discoveries, but it is driven by applied reseach where the product, essentially a waste product, is converted to meet the immediate needs of various customers. Of course, now the government’s EPA gets involved because aspalt is a hazardous waste product which only adds to the problems concerning its safe handling, use, and disposal. This is the kind of research in which Russell Koons was involved. He satisfied his customers. I’m sure that Sales had an essential part in it because he usually found out the real needs of the customer by interacting with Sales. I remember sitting in Toastmasters listening to and evaluating many an excellent speech involving the problems concerning the making of a safe asphalt that would meet the needs of Lion’s various customers, yet meet EPA’s envionmental guidelines. I may have even helped him a little from a chemistry perspective.

Now, Tosco has pulled out of Arkansas, concentrating its refining business in California where they were historically based. Russell (Russ) Koons has retired and has moved back to his native Kansas from whence he came during the war years as a new college-educated chemist to work in the wartime munitions industry in El Dorado, but Lion Oil is still producing precious fuel and asphalt products, mostly from imported petroleum feedstock with people, though unknown to me, I’m sure are just a capable, always with the ever-present, all-powerful Federal EPA looking over their shoulders to make sure it is done enviomentally safe. How things change over the years, but industry always finds a way to produce a quality, safe product and still make a small profit in the process. Contrary to the current occupant of the White House, industry, particularly the chemical industry always manages to “build that” in spite of government regulation and control. If you would like the private sector to continue to build and to create jobs in a sound and safe manner, both to the worker and to the environment, then VOTE REPUBLICAN in November, 2012 because this is a momentous election where more is at stake than ever before in the history of this nation.

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