Martin Resource Management builds petroleum business with diverse fleet

Aviation unit operates Learjet 45XR, Citation CJ3 and CJ1, King Air 350 and 2 Cirrus SR22s.

By Mike Potts
Pro Pilot SW Associate Editor

"Business aircraft give our employees the flexibility to do their jobs," says Pres & CEO Ruben Martin III, seen with the company's new Citation CJ3 and King Air 350.

It was 1951 when Ruben Martin Jr and his wife Margaret moved to Kilgore TX and purchased a butane truck. Ruben drove the truck, servicing residential and commercial drilling rig customers initially, while Margaret kept the books for the Martin Butane Company.

From this modest beginning, Martin Butane has evolved into Martin Resource Management Corp—an enterprise with 97 locations in 12 states and the Canadian province of Alberta, more than 2300 employees and annual sales of more than $3 billion.

A portion of the Martin organization—Martin Midstream Partners—is publicly traded on the NASDAQ exchange, with current market capitalization of about $800 million.

Martin Resource Management's business activities include asphalt storage and distribution, industrial chemicals, lubricants, marine fuel supply, oil refining and marketing, sulfur prilling technology and truck and rail transportation.

Martin Midstream Partners' businesses include sulfur services and fertilizer, liquefied propane gas distribution (the original core business), terminal and storage services, lubricants, natural gas gathering and processing, and marine transportation.

With all of its growth, Martin continues to be based in Kilgore, about 125 miles due east of Dallas, not far from the Louisiana border. Airline service to GGG (East Texas Regional, Longview TX), which serves Kilgore and Longview, is limited to 2 daily round trips to DFW.
Not surprisingly, business aviation has played a key role in supporting the company's growth.

Pres & CEO Ruben Martin III, the son of Martin Jr and Mar­garet, says he remembers his father "always had an airplane," going back to before he joined the company in 1973.

Today, Martin Resource Management maintains a fleet of business aircraft that consists of a Bombardier Learjet 45XR, a Cessna Citation CJ3, which recently replaced a CJ2+, a CJ1, a Hawker Beechcraft King Air 350 and 2 Cirrus SR22s.

These aircraft provide a transportation network for any Martin employee with a business requirement to travel.

"Business aircraft give our employees the flexibility to be in the office when they need to be there and to be at destinations on the road when they need to be visiting customers or clients, and not wasting a lot of time in between," says Martin.

He continues, "I believe in the value of having people at all levels in the company getting out into the field to see what's really going on. They can get out of the office much more efficiently using business aircraft—particularly when you look at the places we go to, and the fact that we're loc­ated in Kilgore TX. With all the managers of the different divisions in our company that need to travel, our aviation department is a huge asset for us."

All in a day's flight

Chief Pilot Jim Caffey leads a team of 7 pilots operating a fleet of 3 jets, a turboprop and 2 piston aircraft.

"There are things we do with our flight department that we just couldn't do any other way," Martin says. "We recently did a tour with our board of directors. We went from Kilgore and then Houston, because we had to pick people up there, to our fertilizer plant in Plainview TX.

From there we went on to Corpus Christi to look at a new crude oil terminal, and then to Beaumont TX to look at our 3 terminal facilities plus a truck terminal we operate there. We did all of that in 1 day using 2 airplanes because we had so many people."

Even with all the obvious advantages that business aviation brings, Martin is adamant about one thing—the cost of Martin's business aviation activity is not passed on to the stockholders. "All of our aviation assets are owned or operated by Martin Resource Management—the privately held segment of our company which bears all of the associated expense," he explains. "I just believe that's how it should be done."

In addition to supporting the company's travel requirements, Martin makes its aircraft available whenever it can to support the Impact A Hero program, which flies severely wounded or disabled veterans to locations they might not otherwise be able to reach.

"All of us at Martin are proud to be able to share our aircraft with the soldiers who have given so much to our country," says Ruben Martin. It also provides similar support to the Make-A-Wish Foundation to grant wishes to terminally ill children.

The Martin aviation department reports to Facilities & Aviation Fleet Mgr Michael Hawkins, who sees his role as both tactical and strategic. "My mission is to provide high quality transportation to the employees of Martin Resources Management who need to travel to support the business," Hawkins says. "We like to be able to get a manager to a meeting and get him back the same day."

Facilities & Aviation Fleet Mgr Michael Hawkins is responsible for day-to-day operations as well as long-term planning for the flight dept.

Continuing, he notes, "I'm also responsible for a master plan that maps out where the department is going over the next 5 years, including working with senior management to project what kind of equipment we'll need and what our manpower requirements will be like. If, for example, we replaced the Lear with a Challenger, how would that impact our pilot requirements and who we hire next."

In addition to the aviation department, Hawkins is responsible for the company's major offices, including the Kilgore headquarters, its marine division headquarters in Houston, and 2 ranches and a fishing camp the company maintains to entertain clients.

The Martin aviation department is located in a 13,680 sq ft hangar facility on the west side of GGG at about midfield on Rwy 17/35. It is less than a 10-min drive to the company's corporate headquarters. Proximity to headquarters is critical because Martin uses its aviation dep­art­ment to respond to any safety issues related to its transport trucks or facilities.

"If there is a safety issue or an accident, our goal is to be in the air within an hour of a call," says Hawkins, "with our safety personnel on their way to the site. In the few times it's happened we've been always able to achieve that because our people are located so close to the airport."


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