On Saturday, Philip Rinaldi dug into a plate of linguine Alfredo served at a South Philadelphia union banquet hall, where the chief executive officer of Philadelphia Energy Solutions L.L.C. was among the guests of honor.
At the banquet, Rinaldi received an award from United Steelworkers Local 10-1 for saving the jobs of hundreds of their members last year.
His company bought refineries in South Philadelphia from Sunoco Inc. after it said it was getting out of the oil-refining business and selling - or shutting - its 1,500-acre facility on the Schuylkill.
"This was not a rescue," Rinaldi said. "The result of it was a rescue, but that wasn't the purpose. We came here with a mission to make a good business."
Question: What's your vision for its future?
Answer: The real future lies in the development of facilities and businesses that are compatible with, but not conventionally associated with, crude refining. These could include facilities to convert nonconventional feedstocks into conventional refined products as well as building investments to add value to low-cost Marcellus Shale gas such as agricultural chemicals like urea ammonium nitrate, diesel emission control chemicals, methanol.
Q: You've built a career in finding the value in businesses soon to be abandoned. What did you see in the Sunoco refinery that others missed?
A: I think it's obvious. We have two oil refineries that are well-configured. They occupy 1,400 acres of property 10 minutes from the center of a major American city.
A: They have river access to two rivers. They have rail, highways, infrastructure. The place is completely permitted for heavy industry. Where on earth are you going to replace that? This is worth taking a look at and seeing whether there's a better way to run the business.
Q: Do you see yourself as a turnaround expert?
A: Sometimes I call myself an industrialist. It's an old-fashioned word from a century ago, but I like that, because I think that you have to make things. I don't think we can have a society that just flips hamburgers. I'm kind of a serial entrepreneur in the energy, chemical, natural-resource space.
Q: You are in management, yet you are getting an award from a union. Many of your fellow executives despise unions. What's your attitude?
A: It's not my view that the union, by its presence, is a bad thing. There are certainly bad unions - there are unions who behave badly. There are managements who behave badly too.
Q: What about Local 10-1?
A: This union here happens to be a very nice union. They are trying to make their lives better and make this business work. They understand that in order for them to prosper as individuals, the entity has to prosper. We're just trying to create some prosperity here.
Q: What would surprise people about you?
A: My age, if I let them know it.
Q: Anything else?
A: I did have a rock-and-roll band in high school - the Thunderbolts. I played the guitar.
Q: Did you sing?
A: Yeah, like Joe Cocker, with no talent. I sing in the car with my grandkids, because it drives them crazy.
Q: What do you sing?
A: Verdi's Questo o Quella. I'm an opera aficionado.
Title: Partner, chief executive, Philadelphia Energy Solutions.
Family: Wife, Susan; children, Marcus, 34, Julian, 30.
Diplomas: New Jersey Institute of Technology, bachelor's and master's in chemical engineering.
Resumé: Investor or executive in heavy industries. Past stints at Coffeyville Resources, Philbro Resources Corp., Seminole Fertilizer Corp., Exxon.
On the side: Chairman, Board of Overseers, New Jersey Institute of Technology; founding member, Opera New Jersey.EndText
Business: Oil refining.
Locations: Girard Point, Point Breeze, both in South Philadelphia.
Ownership: Privately held partnership - Caryle Group, Sunoco Inc.
Output: 330,000 barrels per day, converting some to
6.7 million gallons of gasoline, 5.8 million gallons of diesel fuel.
150 contractors. EndText
Philip Rinaldi on lions, jackals, and other political animals.