What makes a company great?

The following article was written by our President and CEO, Ray Wilcox, and was recently featured in GROWTH Magazine.  Reprinted with permission from GROWTH Magazine.  All rights reserved.

Fresh off the heels of being named one of Houston’s greatest companies by the Greater Houston Partnership for 2006, Chevron Phillips Chemical Company LP (Chevron Phillips Chemical) is both honored and humbled by the community’s recognition. The award is presented annually to regional corporations that have advanced the greater Houston region as a business magnet. Additionally, Chevron Phillips Chemical was presented the “People’s Choice” award, indicating that the company received the most votes from the community as Houston’s greatest company with more than 250 employees.

With assets of $7 billion, Chevron Phillips Chemical and its affiliates are one of the world’s top producers of olefins and polyolefins and a leading supplier of aromatics, alpha olefins, styrenics, specialty chemicals, piping and proprietary plastics. The company produces chemicals that are essential to manufacturing over 70,000 consumer and industrial products. A large portion of these products are plastics, which are used to make everything from milk jugs and bottle caps to plastic pipe, car bumpers, medical devices, and toys. Items you see everyday such as plastic coffee cans, children’s “sippee” cups, ice chests, and truck bed liners are all made with our plastic resins.

When our company was formed six years ago by a 50/50 joint venture combining the chemical assets of Chevron Corporation and Phillips Petroleum (now ConocoPhillips), we set out to be a “great” company. We wanted to be an enterprise that employees are proud to work for and that customers, suppliers and governments prefer... A company that competitors respect and shareholders value... And an organization that communities welcome.

But beyond good intentions, what makes a company “great”? What are the characteristics that invoke pride from employees, preference from customers, respect from competitors, and open arms from the community? And how do you accomplish all of these things?

Below are characteristics that we at Chevron Phillips Chemical believe distinguish truly great companies.


A company is only as great as its employees. Great employees are committed to the enterprise and dedicated to their work. Great employees smile. They care. They go the extra mile. They enjoy the business of business. And, great employees recognize that everyone, top to bottom, plays a role in a company’s success. It’s all about one team, one result.


Great companies do the right thing. Always. They provide the training, tools, and internal controls to ensure that employees are equipped to make the right decisions and are expected to report all matters perceived to be unethical. Beyond that, great company leadership must “walk the talk” – be ethical in deeds and be living proof that the company is making ethical decisions day in and day out, in good times and bad.


Genuine commitment to health, safety, and the environment define a company’s culture. Keep in mind, a high percentage of employees live and work in the communities where you operate. The safety and health of your employees and customers is paramount, and the goal is for everyone to go home safely every day. Environmentally speaking, the way you run your business has a larger impact than you may realize. The fact is we all play a role in caring for the environment. Finding ways to reduce our energy use and waste as well as proactively implementing solutions to improve our environment can make a big difference in the communities where we operate.


What good is it to be great, if you can’t stay in business? Great companies have a great bottom line. Big or small, paying attention to the details is important. Implementing cost cutting measures, differentiating your product, improving your efficiency and reliability are all elements of a sustainable future. It’s not rocket science, but it does require hard work and discipline from every employee. It is vital for employees to be fully involved in the business process. Invariably, employees from all parts of the operation have innovative and practical ideas to help improve the business – you just have to ask!


Quality matters. Your customers count on you to manufacture products to exact specifications, consistently produce them, and deliver on your promises. But quality is more than just specifications – quality is also about focus and commitment to the customer. It’s about meeting customers’ needs with superior products and services. Talk to your customers. Know them. Grow with them.


Being a part of the community is more than just the address you choose. We are blessed to live and work in an outstanding community. To keep it that way, we must contribute to the education, health, and welfare of our surrounding area. Serving on boards and committees, meeting your neighbors, and finding ways to enrich the quality of life is a rewarding aspect of good corporate citizenship. Donating your time, talents, and dollars to worthy organizations benefits everyone.
At our 38 facilities around the globe, Chevron Phillips Chemical holds itself accountable to these standards. It takes hard work and perseverance to be sure, but the effort is worth it. In our six short years as a company we have improved our safety performance by over 70 percent, reduced our greenhouse gas intensity per pound of production by 20 percent, and increased the reliability and efficiency of our operations. We’ve also enhanced our profitability by over a billion dollars and captured approximately 20 percent annualized operating return on capital employed in 2006, all the while making meaningful contributions to our shareholders and our communities.

Thanks to our employees, customers, suppliers, and communities, I truly believe Chevron Phillips Chemical is a great company.