Four generations of the Smith family at Phillips 66
Bo Smith followed in some familiar — and familial — footsteps in May 2019 when he was hired as an instrument person at the Phillips 66 Borger Refinery in Texas.
He became the fourth generation of Smith men to work at that refinery, after his dad (Bobby Smith), his grandfather (B.D. Smith) and his great-grandfather (Maynard "M.W." Smith).
The Phillips 66 Refinery is the largest employer in Borger, which has a current population of just over 13,000. Its workforce of about 1,000 people includes 700 employees and 300 contractors — and every year the refinery gets inundated with applicants. In 2019, the refinery received 1,872 external applicants for 50 open positions.
The Smith men attribute the Phillips 66 pull to the company’s pay, benefits and overall support for the Borger community.
“Phillips 66 has such a strong presence in (Borger) that when the Phillips 66 logo becomes part of your actual uniform, you have a sense of pride,” said Bobby, Bo’s dad and a refinery safety facilitator who is celebrating his 22nd year with the company this year.
In fact, the refinery and the town of Borger are so well integrated that the Smiths say most of the businesses in town provide a service to the refinery in one way or another.
“Growing up, I had a bunch of family already working at Phillips 66,” said Bo. “If it’s not my family, it’s my friends. If it’s not my friends, it’s my friends’ dads.”
Maynard “MW” Smith established his family’s legacy in the mid-1940s in Osage County, Oklahoma, when he was hired by Phillips Petroleum. He and his family ultimately transferred to Borger in the 1950s to start working at the refinery, where he stayed until his retirement in 1977.
His son, B.D. Smith, was raised in Borger and ultimately joined the company in 1972, after months of applying.
“There were lots and lots of people trying to get on, but you’d go back every day — which I did almost,” said B.D., dad to Bobby and granddad to Bo. “Eventually, persistence paid off and I got hired.”
B.D., who served in multiple roles in his 24-year career with Phillips 66, retired from the company in 1996 as a shift supervisor.
Employees at Phillips 66 now span over five generational categories, from the Silent Generation born between 1925 to 1945 to the younger Generation Z, born from 1995. Generations X and Y, those born from 1964-1994, make up 78% of the company's workforce, while Boomers make up nearly 19%.
While four generations of the same family having worked at the same company may be rare nowadays, it's not surprising for the Smith family. Nevertheless, Bobby said it was a special moment for him when his son, Bo, got the call from the hiring manager.
“Phillips 66 takes such good care of their people, so to me I knew his family was taken care of,” he said. “It was a proud moment because I knew it was going to benefit him, it was going to benefit his wife and my grandkid.”