Global ChevronTexaco merger leads to Coral Gables expansion
By Catherine Lackner
As a result of its recent merger, ChevronTexaco is beefing up its presence in Coral Gables, nearly doubling its local staff and moving to larger quarters.
Chevron USA "had no retail marketing in Latin America - that's why it was such a good fit for Texaco," said Ben Ash, manager of advertising sales, promotion and marketing for the former Texaco in Latin America. Texaco has had a marketing presence in that region for most of its 99-year-history, Mr. Ash said.
"We would have been 100 years old as Texaco next year, so we've been in some of these countries 70, 80 or 90 years," he said.
Because of the October merger, the firm's existing division in Coral Gables - Texaco Caribbean Central America - will be absorbed into a new entity called ChevronTexaco's Latin America Products Co.
Mr. Ash described the new local office as "a multibillion dollar operation" that will market finished products, mainly gasoline and motor oils, to Central and South America.
"ChevronTexaco will then have a presence that will cover all of Latin America," Mr. Ash said.
J. Carey McHugh, former president of Texaco Brazil, has been named to head the new division, which will employ 90 to 100 workers.
On Feb. 1, the operation is to move into 35,000 square feet in The Colonnade, 2333 Ponce de Leon Blvd. Texaco will close its current Gables offices at 150 Alhambra Circle.
With a long history in Coral Gables, Mr. Ash said Texaco had 350 people in a "fully integrated" office called the Texaco Latin America West Africa division. Full integration is a division dealing with both "upstream," or exploration and refining matters, and "downstream" or sales and marketing operations, Mr. McHugh said.
The upstream operations were transferred to New York City while the Latin American marketing arm remained in Coral Gables. The group was renamed Texaco Caribbean Central America and its staff had been cut to 30.
"We've been edging up there again and have 50 people here now," Mr. Ash said.
Despite its long tenure there, ChevronTexaco faces challenges abroad.
"We market in third world countries. When you have a recession in the US it's usually exaggerated there," Mr. Ash said. "A severe recession has an impact on unemployment and disposable income."
Add that to the high price of petroleum products abroad and consumption goes down, he said. The current low crude oil prices combined with all other factors make it "very bad for oil companies now."
Still, he said, "we're there for the long term and competing against the Essos and the Shells.
"Business recessions and booms come and go. But there will be always be a demand for petroleum products. Or, at least, we hope so."
The October union between Chevron and Texaco created an energy giant with interests in more than 180 countries. Worldwide, according to company documents, the new ChevronTexaco is the third-largest energy company in terms of global oil reserves with 8.5 billion barrels and the fourth-largest producer of oil and natural gas production with 2.7 million barrels per day.