Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

From our company’s standpoint, 2017 has been a great year. We have had record levels of revenue and have reinvested heavily in our publication, products, services and staff. Improvements include our website, where breaking industry news is being updated several times a day. Web traffic is up over 100 percent year-over-year. We also introduced a weekly enewsletter and are providing more webinars for sharing best practices. Staff turnover has been historically low, and we now have our largest and most tenured team since starting the company in 1984.

BIC Alliance also added a director of strategy to our team. Industry veteran Mark Peters fits wonderfully into our culture and adds depth to our management team. Sister companies IVS Investment Banking and BIC Recruiting are flourishing. IVS had its best year ever in 2017. BIC Recruiting’s business is up substantially, and we have added recruiting ace Sam Puente to our team.

I am especially proud of our company’s recognition in 2017 by the Association of the Chemical Industry of Texas (ACIT) with a “Leadership Award,” the first award of its kind ever bestowed by the association.

To what do we owe these accolades and successes? I believe they are due in large part to a culture created around the philosophy of servant leadership. At BIC, it starts at the top.

Prior to starting my tenure at BIC, its founder Earl Heard gave me an open-ended offer to work with him full time when I finished school, but I had received a job offer from Exxon. I thought I wanted to work for a big company, and Earl took no offense at my excitement for working for a major integrated energy company. Knowing he had risen through the ranks at Ethyl and Hill Petroleum (now Valero), I solicited career advice from him before I started my first day on the job. He considered my request carefully before tendering two wonderful pearls of wisdom that would serve any worker well.

The first was to find and develop a relationship with a mentor. Choose him or her carefully, and then be proactive in encouraging them to delegate all the work they possibly can to you, teaching you to complete the tasks along the way. In exchange, you will learn your trade correctly and, additionally, when your mentor climbs the ladder of success based in part on your work, he or she will pull you up the ladder behind them.

The other advice was to join in the local professional association, and don’t just join but participate through contribution of effort. In exchange for the effort put into work on committees and/or the boards of professional associations, you will learn more about the industry as a whole and broaden your network of meaningful contacts, he said.

I am certain this year’s recognition by the ACIT with a “Leadership Award” germinated from that advice decades ago. Over the years, I have practiced and given this same advice to many others. Further, I have required my employees to actively participate and give to our industry associations.

At the time he first gave them to me, it didn’t surprise me both of Earl’s Pearls were related to hard work and learning, but it didn’t occur to me until much later the pearls had a deeper commonality: They both required working for the benefit of someone or something else. In one case, it was serving your mentor. The other was serving your association. One might generalize from these pearls that serving others humbly will increase your individual status. The pearls were practical applications of the ancient biblical principle, “It is better to give than to receive.” While ancient, this truth and many others are the foundation of a currently vogue management philosophy, servant leadership.

Now, starting my career at Exxon, I was not in any formal leadership position. I was a mere cog in the wheel. Many of you reading this may, too, not share a management title, but the practice of adroit service to your supervisor, co-workers and peers in industry will garner success over time in your career. It will, in essence, make you a leader amongst your peers, even before you are awarded a management position. I’ve heard it said, “If you make them No. 1, they will make you No. 2.”

I have tried to practice and learn more about servant leadership over the years, especially after moving into a management role. I’ve learned if you earnestly put others’ needs before your own, on the whole, your needs will be advanced. Bill Gates says that as we look into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others. Further, it is a practice one should exercise in every facet of life — not just at work, but at home with family and in the community with your neighbors. I’ve seen great success when I have practiced it, and I have crashed and burned in spectacular fashion when I have taken a hard position of self-centeredness. We’ve all seen that style of self-focused leadership. It alienates and aggravates, rather than promoting an environment for success.

Fast-forward 25 years, and this past month I found myself alongside our founder Earl and our Vice President Jeremy Osterberger attending a conference by management guru John Maxwell on servant leadership. Maxwell says, “True leadership must be for the benefit of the followers, not to enrich the leader.”

It was great to reinforce old lessons and learn new corollaries of the axiom of servant leadership. Like much wisdom, it seems quite self-evident when you hear it or read it. But receiving the wisdom by communication instead of through firsthand experience allows a willing learner to implement it faster and more readily, providing a broader and easier path to success.

While we work to serve our marketing partners and our employees, we at BIC Magazine truly endeavor to serve you, our readers, by including relevant content to help you in your job and outside of work to provide you a broader and easier path to your own success.

In this issue of BIC, we include insight from U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry, BASF Senior Vice President of Petrochemicals Heather Remley and Vice President of Business Management for Basic Petrochemicals North America Andre Wehrmann, Louisiana Chemical Dismantling Co. President Jay Schwall and Hemco Industries Director of Marketing Jared Williams.

We also include the latest in procurement tips, industry outlooks, maintenance effectiveness, improving turnarounds and more.

Thank you to each of you for your continued support as we begin a new year!