December 7, 2022

INVISTA’s House: the success of the Houston site is due to its employees

While it’s true that Larry House’s official job title is “Plant Manager” for INVISTA in Houston, he’s actually responsible for so much more.

“I am responsible for leading the site in producing quality products that are loved by our customers,” House said. “This includes operating with a strong focus on safety of people and processes, environmental and community stewardship, and reliable production.”

Specifically, these responsibilities include ensuring the site has a clear vision and ensuring that everyone who works in the plant understands how their contributions relate to that vision.

Although he only wore the plant manager hat for a year, House has extensive industry experience that spans over 33 years. A native of Cottage Grove, Minnesota, a suburb 20 miles south of the Twin Cities, House attended Brown Institute, earning an associate’s degree in electronics technology. House’s early employment opportunities helped him understand the benefits of client relationships and the value and meaningful partnerships they can foster.

“Later in my career, I developed a deeper understanding of the importance of mutually beneficial partnerships,” House said.

House’s career in the energy sector began in 1989 at Flint Hills Resources, where he was first employed as an operator. House went on to become a shift supervisor, process manager, scheduler, production coordinator, reliability center manager and operations manager. According to House, these roles helped him learn the essential listening and communication skills he would need as a plant manager for INVISTA.

“If I share the details of my own leadership playbook, I believe that having strong critical thinking skills, an aligned risk profile, being able to develop site leaders, and recognizing and differentiating priorities are all necessary attributes. and valuable that contribute to a site’s performance and culture,” House explained.

Focus on success

INVISTA’s Houston facility was developed and built on the site of a former olefins production plant that was acquired from ExxonMobil Oil Corp. in 2008 by PetroLogistics. PetroLogistics built the first propane dehydrogenation (PDH) plant of its kind in the United States, which it operated until 2014, when it was sold to Flint Hills Resources. The factory was then transferred to INVISTA in January 2022.

“INVISTA Houston produces polymer-grade propylene, as well as hydrogen, fuel gas, C4 and C5 products,” House said. “It has been operational as a PDH factory since 2010.”

According to House, he is proud of how the factory has overcome its share of recent obstacles.

“Our site has faced many challenges as we continue our journey to be a valuable contributor to society and our community,” House said. “Improving plant reliability and utilization are priority areas for the site and key elements of stable operations and strong performance. Reliable operations go hand-in-hand with strong people and process safety, improved environmental performance, community stewardship, employee growth and development, and this allows for increased opportunities to focus on process and performance improvements. systems.

Understanding potential failures and developing strategies to minimize and eliminate these occurrences, performing detailed investigations and root cause failure analyzes to effectively correct these items, and ensuring that the scope and design meet functional expectations are some- some of the strategies involved during this journey, House explained. “Another key area of ​​focus is investing in process optimization, projects, technology, tools and people to continuously improve site performance. It is important to recognize that the performance expectations of the chemical industry are increasing at an ever-changing rate.

“Being aware of the need to be a leader and to stay ahead of this curve is a necessity. Our Houston site continues to use technology and automation to support this effort.

Security and Charity

House touted INVISTA’s focus on site security, and he described INVISTA employees and contractors as “passionate participants” in the company’s security programs.

“Some of the key elements of this success are ensuring a strong presence in the field, personal observations, knowledge and audits of safe work practices, participation in process safety management, a challenge process healthy and using a ‘stop, think and ask’ approach,” he said. said.

The plant has received numerous AFPM awards for its safety achievements and was recently recognized as a 2021 Elite Silver Award recipient.

“Our major contractors have also achieved safety performance recognition year after year,” House said proudly. “These efforts and performance reflect the ownership and pride of our employees, including our strong work ethic and concern for everyone’s well-being.”

Another point of pride, House said, is INVISTA’s involvement in the community. “Proactively working with key stakeholders and supporting our local community is of paramount importance to our business and our employees,” House said. “It’s not just something we say, but it’s evident in how we give back. Our philanthropic goal is to create opportunities for deserved success among the less fortunate.

The company’s community support efforts include partnerships with local organizations such as the East Harris County Manufacturers Association, the Association of Chemical Industry of Texas, the Texas Chemical Council and the Economic Alliance Houston Port Region.

House also said INVISTA’s partnership with the Children’s Museum of Houston incorporates interactive science workshops in nearby elementary schools to help young people learn more about science.

“We are continually looking for ways to be a good neighbor while focusing our efforts on education, mentorship and job skills,” House said.

INVISTA employees also volunteer with the YMCA’s Angel Tree program and contribute to annual shoe drives for local elementary schools. “We support our local high school students through scholarships and are active members of the Houston Community Advisory Panel and the East End Chamber of Commerce,” House said. “We are grateful to have the opportunity to help others and provide support if needed.”

A paradigm shift

House shared that his site has embarked on a transformation journey that includes the use of advanced process controls, automation of procedures, process and equipment monitoring, condition-based controls, ownership progress and operational capabilities in the field, asset management, and improved data collection and use.

“These efforts affect the traditional practices of operating a factory,” House said. “The site is actively engaged in aligning our existing practices with these new tools and methods.”

According to House, this alignment represents a shift to existing paradigms and will continue to influence the role of every worker. “Changing the way we work to support and advance this transformative vision will be an ongoing evolution,” he said.

House expects an upcoming catalyst change and supercharger overhauls to help improve overall output next year. “These necessary activities will continue to help us achieve our goals for increased utilization and improved reliability performance, and they will allow us to continue to install additional transformation and automation technologies,” House said.

House also said he believes the technology will dramatically change the industry from an equipment and operations perspective. “However, people are always the backbone of long-term growth and success,” House insisted. “As we improve our application of technology, we also have a significant interest and investment in the development of our people.

“Developing Entrepreneurship The Way™ by practicing a philosophy of mutual benefit and creating superior value for the business, our customers and society empowers our employees. They identify new ideas and solutions, use economic thinking in decisions, recognize and create aligned risk profiles and improve performance and profitability My goal is to lead and support the continuous development of our people.

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