On the right route – Phillips 66

Phillips 66 Pete George

Pete George

Phillips 66 ‘brings with it a proud and successful heritage ready to move forward into a promising future as one of the world’s largest downstream companies,’ wrote chairman and chief executive officer, Greg C Garland, as the downstream business split from the ConocoPhillips name in May.

 Wishing to learn more about the transition to this ‘advantaged downstream company with an impressive portfolio of highly competitive businesses,’ Fuel Oil News recently quizzed the company.

 “The name may have changed, but what’s in a name?” said Pete George.  

 With its Humber and Whitegate refineries and product portfolio, Phillips 66 – remains a strong mid-sized company following its demerger from ConocoPhillips earlier this year.

 “This is first and foremost a relationship business; the Jet name remains on UK forecourts and we’re still working alongside our former ConocoPhillips customers,” added Pete.

 Pete had planned to retire later this year but recently accepted the role of manager, UK and Ireland marketing. “One of the main reasons I chose not to opt for my pipe and slippers just yet was the huge amount of excitement surrounding the company’s transition to a pure refiner and wholesaler. So, when the opportunity to stay on came about, it was simply too good to resist.    

Focused team work aids customer relationships

“Earlier this year, we undertook a strategic review up to 2015.  Having looked at where the market’s going, we responded with a new organisational structure very firmly focused on delivering the best possible service to the customer – both large and small,” says Pete. 

 Lead by Lindsey Grant, Phillips 66 now has a dedicated national sales team to look after UK resellers and dealers with a national presence such as GB Oils and MRH.  Customers in Ireland, supermarkets and specialty fuels, such as marine, aviation and LPG, also come under the remit of Lindsey and her team. 

 The needs of independents working from local and regional sites are looked after by Guy Pulham and his team of seven territory managers. Working across seven key regions, they are supported by a dedicated customer account co-ordinators based at the company’s headquarters inWarwick.  A large proportion of the Jet branded distributors – there are currently 18 with another due to join early next year – and forecourts, are also covered by Guy’s team.

To support both teams, Phillips 66 has also created the position of demand manager. Taking up the new role, Ken Johnson will be responsible for ensuring that product is available where and when customers need it.

The new teams are a combination of unrivalled sector experience sprinkled with the fresh thinking of newcomers. Since January, customer facing time has increased with Andy Viens, the company’s US-based global marketing director, taking the time to visit distributors and dealers.

Good communication to ensure a seamless transition

“Customer relationships are precious, that will never change. Some dealers have been with us for 50 years and we have branded distributors with over 40 years of trading history,” explained Pete.  

Ensuring customers are well-informed of the recent changes has already kept the Phillips 66 brand and communications team busy.  A series of ‘top secret’ road shows are planned for October, there is a conference in the offing and a special promotion for forecourts and distributors has recently been unveiled. 

Phillips 66’s heartland remains in the north of England, Scotland, London, the south east and the Midlands.  With the company looking to strengthen its northern presence, its Bramhall terminal has been expanded. The south west is still an important hub for the company and Phillips 66 still sells product through this location, working with leading branded distributors such as Heltor, Opie Oils, Kinch Fuel Oils and F J Emerys.  With the Plymouth-based terminal being able to be fed from both the Whitegate andHumberrefineries, it offer customers piece of mind and security around supply.

Key issues facing the industry

“The industry faces two key issues as I see it – consistency of supply and price volatility,” said Pete.  “I’ve been in the industry for a long time and sometimes I don’t understand the price volatility from one day to the next. We can’t affect the latter but we do appreciate the difficulties and constantly try to understand customers’ issues.   

“Would I be a distributor? It’s tough and it’s competitive but in a consolidating market – the right business with the right financial model and the right attitude can do well; new entrants are certainly seeing opportunities.  The dilemma for any distributor is – do you pick up and deliver straight away or keep a lot in stock?  This is still a great industry and its volatility keeps you on your toes.

“When I came into this industry, my father asked me: why are you joining an oil company, they’ve only got 10 years left – that was over 40 years ago.  Now, I’m very positive about Phillips 66’s ability to cope; we’re bullish about theHumber refinery and what we can offer our customers.  I wouldn’t be staying if I didn’t believe in it – I’d be sitting on a beach! 

“After making the decision to stay, I received some great emails and phone calls which just reinforced that I know I made the right decision to stay with Phillips 66. I now want to drive our culture of a customer focused organisation that delivers on its promises, to an even better place as we go forward.”

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