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Troy Wilson, maintenance supervisor, has been working at the CHS refinery at McPherson, Kan., since 2000.
Our people

CHS refinery at McPherson: A community staple

Generations of McPherson and surrounding community locals have found prosperity and purpose within the refinery’s gates.
Tiffanie Connelly
Jun 18, 2024

The legacy of Globe Oil & Refining

McPherson, Kan., was established in 1872 and described in early transcripts as “one of the most flourishing towns in central Kansas.” Today, McPherson (pronounced mick-fur-son) continues to thrive in the areas of agriculture, industry and education with a population of 14,000.

Globe Oil & Refining Company opened in McPherson in 1931 and continues today as the CHS refinery. Nearly 100 years after opening, the facility is a testament to the resilience, hard work and enduring bonds of generations.

McPherson postcard
The CHS refinery at McPherson, Kan., opened in 1931 as Globe Oil & Refining with an initial processing capacity of 10,000 barrels per day.

To help rebound after the Great Depression, the McPherson Chamber of Commerce wanted a refinery in the town to take advantage of the area’s rich local oil resources. O’Shaughnessy, a successful independent refiner, saw the potential and agreed to build a refinery there. The prospect of working with a community that believed in entrepreneurial generosity and offered a prime location for the refinery was too enticing to pass up.

Refinery construction created 350 jobs at a time when employment opportunities were scarce. Within six months, the facility was complete and ready to process 10,000 barrels of crude oil daily. The facility’s 100 full-time employees adopted a bulldog as their mascot, symbolizing their determination and loyalty to the refinery.

To mark the refinery’s opening in March 1933, the O’Shaughnessy team addressed the town, expressing gratitude for the community’s support. Materials from the time report company sentiment: “As soon as you get in the county, the Depression disappears. There is happiness and contentment here.”

Two women and two men smiling
From left, Austin, Annie, Tami and Troy Wilson at the CHS refinery at McPherson, Kan. Austin is the son of Tami and Troy.

Generations of hard work

Generations of McPherson and surrounding community locals have found prosperity and purpose within the refinery’s gates. Families like the Wilsons and Alexanders have become intertwined with its history.

Alexander family history with the refinery dates back four generations. The family’s tenure began in the early 1900s with their great-great-grandfather-in-law John Grant and extends through today with brothers James and Jonathan Alexander. Their father, Daril Alexander, retired in 2022 after 38 years at the refinery. His father, Eldon, retired in 1995 as a safety supervisor with more than 30 years of service.

“There's pride in it, knowing that your family was there first and carrying the torch forward. Beyond that, everything I have is because of it [the refinery]. It provided for grandpa's kids and dad's kids and now our kids,” says Jonathon.

The Wilsons, too, have etched their legacy into the refinery’s story. Three generations of this family have worked side by side, including the five Wilsons who currently work on site. Employed in everything from maintenance to IT, the family’s history is woven into the fabric of the refinery community.

Two men standing beside CHS logo
Brothers James and Jonathan Alexander work at the CHS refinery in McPherson, Kan. Jonathan has been at the refinery since 2012 and James started in 2018.

CHS in the community

The refinery’s impact has extended beyond its employees, fueling the local economy and supporting local hospitals and community events. This long-standing community involvement includes supporting local schools, youth leadership programs, agricultural scholarships and arts organizations. Employees make significant contributions to the United Way and donate their time and talents in various ways, such as assisting with building affordable homes. In addition, CHS has provided more than 100 matching grants to Kansas cooperatives in recent years to support their community projects.

Beyond the gates where thousands work daily to produce the gasoline and diesel that powers rural America, the refinery serves as an anchor in the community, helping families and the communities around it flourish.

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