Texas Refinery Corporation of Canada

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Family-run business is a leader in specialty market

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, as some would say. This motto reflects the overall approach that Texas Refinery Corporation of Canada has taken in doing business for several decades. The mere fact that Texas Refinery Corporation of Canada has been a leader in its specialty market for 87 years and continues to retain customers, sales and staff, speaks volumes about the company. George Media caught up with Pat Walsh, the vice-president and general manager of Texas Refinery Corporation of Canada, who told us about the company’s keys to its long-time success.

Texas Refinery Corporation has been a familyrun business ever since it was established in 1922. One of the original founders and owners was A. M. Pate, whose grandson, A. M. Pate III, is now chairman of the board. The company markets specialty lubricants, and protection coatings, for industrial customers under the Texas Refinery label.

Typical customers are industrial-type companies, including schools, cities, townships, farms, trucking companies and pipeline construction, as well as the tar sands in Alberta, the major ski hill operators with lifts in B.C. and some of the biggest mines in Canada. Products supplied to these customers range from high-quality greases, lubes, engine oil, fuel conditioners, hydraulic oils, industrial cleaners and asphalt cleaners. In other words, products that industries need to conduct their business.

Great advantage

The industry leader believes part of its long-time success has to do with that fact that they create and manufacture the products internally. With its own labs based in the United States, Texas Refinery manufactures its own products to their own specifications, as well as takes care of warehousing their products in various locations across the United States. However, Texas Refinery also has plants and offices in Mexico, as well as in Toronto, Ontario and Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.

The biggest difference in the products that would sell in Canada versus the United States would be just in the capability of the product being able to handle harsher environments and colder climates. In fact, the company has a very strong presence in Canada. "A lot of products are manufactured in Canada; it’s a cost decision to make it more efficient and sell the products at a better price to our customers," tells Pat Walsh, the Vice-President and General Manager of Texas Refinery Corporation of Canada.

"But it is also a matter of quality control as we want to deliver a solid product on a consistent basis; we don’t want anything sub-standard to be released as it would go against what we consider a quality product," adds Walsh, who oversees the Canadian operations. "We build products so they perform better, last longer and protect the customer’s most expensive equipment; that’s why most of own clientele looks at buying a high quality grease or lubricant from us much like they would go about buying insurance," says Walsh.

Quality makes this product line stand apart

Perhaps what makes Texas Refinery most unique in its product line is its quality-control policy. "Since we’re manufacturers and not just distributors, we feel we can control the quality of our products; this is important to us because if equipment lasts longer and doesn’t break down, those customers come back and see us time and time again," explains Hopkins.

In order to help ensure quality, Texas Refinery does what is called ‘over-specking’ a product. "One of the major laboratory tests for lubricating grease is called a ‘Timken load.’ A number is given to the grease pressure application, which ranges between 50-70 Timken load, and that is considered a pretty good one. Our top-selling grease called 880 Crown and Chassis lubricant has a Timken load of over 100 (which is over-specking)," says Hopkins. In other words, Texas Refinery aims to make the product better than what it needs to be. "And that’s our philosophy," he adds.

In this case, a total base number (TBN) is a number given to engine oils to qualify how much additive is in it. Normally, engine oils have a TBN of 10, which is considered to be in a very good range. However, Texas Refinery’s heavy duty engine oil has a TBN of 14. "That’s considered quite excellent; in fact, hardly any of the other competitors have such a ranking. We follow the philosophy that we’re taking care of very expensive equipment, ranging anywhere from $100,000 to millions very easily," explains Hopkins. Because of this, Texas Refinery aims to sell the best quality end of products that will eventually be very inexpensive for the customer, since it extends the life of such equipment, at the same time. Customers are willing to pay more for highquality maintenance products, especially when it means better protection over the long-term.

Employees link products to customer base

The family-run company attributes its longevity and success to its customer-oriented and sales-oriented approach. Customers say they find loyalty to Texas Refinery’s product line because of its high quality. "We have sales people throughout these countries selling to customers locally," says Jerry Hopkins, president of Texas Refinery Corporation. Personalized service is a value-add for many customers. In turn, the company’s sales force is the link to the community and clientele.

"As a result, it is imperative that the sales person believes in the products and the company. We’re very proud that our sales people stay with us for decades," Hopkins says. "We have one sales person located in Massachusetts who has been with us for 25 years, another in Mississippi for 40 years, and out of the top 25 sales people, the average link for service is around 20 years," tells Hopkins. It comes as no surprise, then, that there are a number of sales employees who are second and third generation.

Challenges

In many regions in Canada, consumers were often in the bush and would dump oils and grease on the ground, if the alternative was not provided to them. In fact, that is what was happening until the Canadian government wanted to impose taxes on all companies involved in the manufacturing and distribution of lubricants, so they could spearhead these recycling centres. The oil industry got together and concluded it would best to offer another solution to the waste problem.

When the consortium formed in each province, Texas Refinery got involved early on in the development of a new recycling program. Each province charges a small fee every time oil is sold thereby funding the program all without the taxpayer having to pay for it. And as it turned out, the investment in time to coordinate the recycling program was worthwhile.

Today, these centres are set up across the country to recycle all kinds of oils, greases and lubricants. It is an easy and convenient alternative for consumers, thanks to Texas Refinery’s leadership. "Texas Refinery was involved with all the promises that started this program which started about 10 years. It started first with Saskatchewan, then Manitoba and now it’s nationwide," tells Walsh. "It’s a way to encourage consumers not to throw used oil on the ground," he explains.

The golden rule guides company to see continued growth

The greatest thing about having years and years of experience in the market is the familiarity with your market niche. "Our plan is to stay in the niche and continue to serve customers through sales people in that specialty market. If we continue on, we don’t see how we won’t be successful for another 87 years," Hopkins says proudly. "We’ve been doing busy in Canada and the United States for 36 years; we try to run the company simply and try to do the right thing," adds Walsh, adding it is all about the golden rule

Texas Refinery’s high-quality pro duct line has led to its great succ ess and longevity. For more information visit www.texasrefinery.com

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