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Karen Brown

One right decision would make a lot of difference in preserving an important part of our community's beginnings. I hope the folks responsible for making that choice can agree that E.W. Marland's name should definitely in this way remain attached to the company he started.

Ruslyn Hermanson

I agree with this name change and I think a tremendous amount of healing would be possible. Building a bridge from past to future would be beneficial to all.

Suzanne Zanardi

I agree that the Ponca City refinery should be renamed the E. W. Marland Refinery. E. W. Marland played a significant role in the history of Ponca City, as well as the Ponca City refinery; not Frank Phillips.

Dave May

The E.W. Marland Refinery. Sounds good.


Marland refinery is THE LEAST that they can do. Talk about not doing a service to our community!

Neil Simpson

I think it would be a very fitting memorial to a great man.

jeramiah johnson

I disagree. It seems to me naming an asset such as the local refinery after Marland offers nothing to the future of Ponca City. Rather, again it only beckons to a glorious,exciting time from the distant past that is long since gone. I project naming the refinery after Marland will have the same day to day effect on lives here as renaming a stretch of highway for him earlier... Nothing at all.

At this time,there are those of us here who will always be "capsules" and others who will be always be "shields" matter what. Ponca must be a leader by breaking away from the thought of placing value on being second best. I am sure when Marland fell and Dan Moran took over there was great anxiety and change just as there was at the Conoco @ Phillips merger when Phillips became the majority partner. It's past time we here stopped looking to Marland and Wentz to save us and get on board with the business of proving we here truly belong at the front of the line in the Phillips 66 portfolio.


Perhaps changing the name would heal the rift that has existed in Ponca City since the merger with Phillips. I suspect, however, that the local population will continue to call the facility/company simply Conoco--as they've done for the past 12 years.

Tom Hanke

NO! PLEASE NO! I absolutely DO NOT agree with the idea of renaming the Ponca City Refinery. And here's why.

I’m a recent retiree from the refinery and one who could only watch helplessly as company managers unfriendly toward the city of Ponca City, the memory of E.W. Marland, Conoco or Continental Oil Company, did everything within their power to cause "grass to grow in the streets" of this great community (thankfully without success). I understand first-hand that "the Ponca City Refinery" is a name of honor in the global world of petroleum refining. It's a name that's been around for close to 100 years now, it's a name recognizable world-wide in the refining business, and it's both a badge of honor and a badge of courage to the dedicated employees that come to work there every day and make it the best refinery in the world. And as such, it’s a name that still puts this community on a very important map, which means it benefits not just those employed there, but all Ponca Citians—past, present and future—and has great, if intangible, value to all efforts to ensure the long-term prosperity of our city. If you change the name, you snuff out the last vestige of the actual legacy left by E.W. Marland (I'll come back to that), and aid those, mentioned above, who would like to do just that.

In 1982, Mesa Petroleum, led by T. Boone Pickens, moved to acquire Phillips Petroleum in a hostile takeover. To head this off, the self-righteous senior executives at Phillips chose instead the only alternative course of action at their disposal, which was what Wall Street called a “poison pill” strategy, which devalued the company in such a way that shareholders suffered, but the Sr. execs got to keep their jobs. I recall reading an article in a trade journal at the time detailing a black-tie political affair, attended by first-year President Ronald Reagan, in which T. Boone Pickens had a speaking role. Pickens had, at the time, been embroiled in day-and-night negotiation to accomplish the takeover, and had perhaps lost sight of the significance of his dealings relative to what the average citizen was concerned about on that given day. In his speaker’s comments that evening, according to the article, he cracked a joke that very few in the room understood. He said, “Barnum and Bailey Circus have announced that now they plan to acquire Phillips Petroleum. It seems they just want to get the clowns that run it.” (The article reported that President Reagan laughed, but probably more out of courtesy than a direct understanding of the facts or sentiments behind Pickens’ comments.)

I had only been with Conoco a couple of years at that time, out of college. But I had interviewed Phillips on campus and had been told by their campus recruiter, “We have a lot of people getting ready to retire which means there will be lots of opportunity for promotion for young people hiring in.” A college professor advised me to be wary of any company that said things like that to persuade you to go to work for them. Further, the father of a college buddy of mine who worked in the oil business in Hobbs, N.M., warned me about Phillips. “That is not a good company to work for,” he said.

Such is the legacy of Frank Phillips from where I sit.

Contrast this with, as you’ve correctly pointed out in your posting, that E.W. Marland was a pioneer in the business world, “years ahead of his time as an employer providing housing, loans, medical care, and other benefits for thousands of employees who worked at his refineries and pipelines….” That heritage of being a people-friendly employer was still felt when I came to work there 60 years later (the same friend’s father who advised against taking a job with Phillips applauded my decision to go to work for Conoco, saying, “that’s a good company!”) and was still there at the time that University of Oklahoma alumni Archie Dunham “sold the company downriver” to Phillips with only his own self-interest in mind.

Now fast-forward to 2012 and the choice to name the new downstream company Phillips 66. As they’ve proven many times, they can do whatever they want. A company like this makes money in spite of itself. But I don’t consider it to be a good reason for changing the long-standing and robust name of “the Ponca City Refinery” to something else, inflicting further insult as well as injury on the citizens of our community. Two wrongs do not make a right.

And do you understand why ConocoPhillips management moved everything that wasn’t tied down out of Ponca City? I’ll dispense with the discussion of the darker side of human nature and petty rivalry between Phillips/Bartlesville and Conoco/Ponca City, and stay with the “public” reason. It’s because they believe that people don’t want to live here. Yes, that simple. I applaud your “Ponca City, We Love You” website; my sentiments exactly. I’ve chosen to retire here, though a native of Texas, because Ponca City is a great place to live and work. It’s truly “Oklahoma’s best-kept secret.” But the corporate executives wrongly believe they can’t attract the kind of graduates they need to remain competitive in today’s business environment with offices in Ponca City. Your posting refers to “the oil company that bears [Phillips’] name that will always be a monument to his memory.” Don’t kid yourself. The name Phillips, and the city of Bartlesville, are just as easily abandoned as Ponca City.

By the way, the Ponca City Refinery is currently one of the most profitable refineries in all of downstream. “The Ponca City Refinery,” or just “Ponca City” in refining circles, is a very important trademark. Would you have the University of Oklahoma, today, change its name to Indian Territory University to honor the history of the state? Again; a heritage worth recognizing, but a wrong-headed way to do it.

While I fully support the idea of honoring E.W. Marland, let's find another way. (And I suggest you not naively look to corporate leadership to accomplish it.) I’m just hoping it’s not already too late; with you having suggested a name change and posted this website and put your ads in the local paper, you may have seeded the idea company management is looking for to further rob our city of its pride. I would strongly encourage you to cease and desist and take down this website ASAP.

Stan Bivin

I agree with Hanke. We honor E.W. Marland every day in Ponca City. What we need to honor now is
the superior corporate culture of CONOCO, pre-merger, which was a testament to Marland's and CONOCO's bottom up management style. That style recognized the importance of the individual employee, and empowered folks at all levels to think and lead!

Jamie Flegler

How about petioning local Politicians to change the name of South Avenue or Highway 60 to honor Mr. Marland? It would be a permanent honor that couldn't be "revoked" later if the Refinery was sold to another Company.

Joe Roby, Chula Vista, CA

It should be done! Give back alittle history to what made PONCA CITY great and WHO made it happen. Not many left that worked a Marland Oil, if any. The the numbers of Daddys and Granddads that worked at Conoco, for 30 plus years, like my Daddy did, is too getting fewer. Those men and women that gave their working years to CONOCO, were proud to do so. I have been gone from PONCA CITY for more than 20years, it is sad to come HOME, and see that PONCA CITY is nothing but a retirement city. Remember the hostile takeover by Phillips, people moved out of town to the east, then layed off. I went through a very hostile takeover in the GOV, it's not fun and it hurts. Those early oil men are gone and should be given a place to be remembered, what better place than OUR PONCA CITY refinery.

G.L. Patton

No, I do not support renaming the refinery. Why this propensity for changing/fixing things that are not broke? Why change the name now? If it is important that the legend of E.W. Marland live on, why wasn't the name changed 75 years ago, when Marland was alive, or after his death as a memorial?

Change it now? The oil global economy knows the refinery as the Ponca City Refinery, changing the name might lessen its status. Why do you think Conoco and Phillips combined their names into one, rather than renaming the company? Global recognition.

I place this push into the same category as those wanting to save an old building from demolition because of its history to a town a minute before the wrecking ball is scheduled to begin its work.

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