MCDC/MCOC Executive Director Janice Brown was invited in September to address the audience at CHS Laurel Refinery’s 75th Anniversary. At that event, Brown emphasized CHS’s positive economic impact on the city of Laurel. The longstanding tradition of refining at CHS began in Laurel, Montana, in 1943. Laurel Oil and Refining Company opened in 1930 but quickly went bankrupt. The refinery restarted in 1933 as the Independent Refining Company. Its largest buyer was the Farmers Union Central Exchange, which eventually became Cenex and then CHS in the decades to follow. In March 1943, CHS purchased the refinery for $250,000. At that time, the refining capacity was 5,000 barrels-per-day and the refinery employed 90 people.
Today, the CHS Laurel refinery employs more than 800 full-time and contract employees, making it one of the largest local employers in the surrounding communities. “The refinery plays a significant role in the Laurel community,” says Pat Kimmet, vice president of refining at the Laurel facility. “We support many community initiatives from children’s activities, United Way, community events and donations to local schools. We’re proud to be a long-time partner in keeping Laurel a safe and vibrant community,” says Kimmet, noting that a number of employees at CHS Laurel are third-generation employees.
The Future of Refining : As the nation’s largest cooperative refinery, CHS continues to differentiate itself by focusing on owners. “We strive to serve our customer base and focus on products our farmer-owners rely on to grow their businesses,” says Kimmet. “We will continue to invest in assets that bring quality diesel and gasoline to rural America.” “We only see our refinery operation continuing to improve,” says Kimmet. “Energy is a sound investment for CHS and our farmer- and member-owners.”