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It’s the fall of 2017 in the Pacific Northwest, and the mountainous landscape boasts forests of bright reds, yellows and oranges. In nearby Seattle, Laura Yellig has just stepped into her role as president and CEO of PetroCard. She faces an emerging energy transition landscape, covered in unknowns, challenges and endless possibilities.

About the same time, in an office halfway across the country in the world’s energy capital of Houston, Texas, Pam McGinnis is getting reacquainted with the fuels marketing business after recently being named Phillips 66’s vice president of Global Marketing.

Both leaders had a big job in front of them – building a business with sustainable growth while facing the pressures of a lower-carbon economy and evolving consumer expectations. But the key to mapping out the future started with understanding the past.

Yellig first took a deep look into PetroCard’s strengths. She quickly learned that part of its strength lies in Phillips 66 as a fuel supplier, a relationship that has provided mutual benefits since 2002.

McGinnis started her tenure with a tour of customer meetings, including one with Yellig. It was clear that both leaders saw value in each other’s businesses and shared mutual ideals and end goals for their customers.

“Part of PetroCard’s promise to its customers is unmatched access to quality fuel programs and innovative solutions,” McGinnis says. “Phillips 66 is proud to be part of PetroCard’s ability to fulfill its promise. Our mission is always to be a fuel supplier that delivers value in the services and products we provide and in our industry knowledge and human connections.”

The best business relationships , like personal ones, are those that can weather any storm and have the foresight and collaboration to come out stronger on the other side. That’s the case for Phillips 66 and PetroCard.

“While we have 20 years of collaboration, our biggest work together still lies ahead,” Yellig says. “We’ve built our relationship on timeless principles, but what makes it special is our commitment to the future.”

A commitment to the future starts by nurturing the relationship of today. The two companies have mastered working together, using these five keys to success.

Five Keys to Long-lasting Business Relationships

Establish trust and transparency

Understanding each other’s growth strategies can enable mutual development in the marketplace. In 2017, Phillips 66 was working to improve its 76® and Conoco® brands as a growth driver in the Pacific Northwest. PetroCard listened and adapted its strategy to grow with resilient retailers to help strengthen the brands. Working together, they reimaged over 30 branded stations, giving site owners clean, modern forecourts with bright lighting to attract today’s consumers.

Offer flexibility

A good “win-win” situation requires each party to give and take. Phillips 66 has reliable, flexible supply options with two regional refineries in adjacent markets, enabling one to support the other when markets become constrained. PetroCard has its own logistics business, making it a flexible counterpart for Phillips 66 when offloading supply. Another tip: leave room for flexibility even after the contract is signed.  A cookie-cutter approach is the enemy of enduring relationships.

Focus on people

Since taking the helm of their organizations, both Yellig and McGinnis have made people their number one focus. By building internal capabilities and developing inclusive environments, they’re unleashing creativity and bringing each other new ideas.

Practice communication

Relationships flourish when it becomes easy to pick up the phone to share good news and bad. The market is constantly changing in the fuels industry, so communicating is critical. PetroCard credits Phillips 66 for daily communication and intent listening. Both parties genuinely seek to understand each other’s needs and work together on solutions.

Foster innovation

Collaborative relationships offer foresight into emerging trends, economic drivers, public policies and technologies. PetroCard knows that Phillips 66 is vigorously managing the issues of today while also focusing on the future. Phillips 66 brings innovative solutions to keep PetroCard’s customers competitive, including programs like mobile pay, which offers consumers fast and secure ways to pay while getting fuel discounts. Phillips 66 is also working on infrastructure to support renewable diesel and electric vehicles, all of which will eventually become a part of PetroCard’s story.

“Our inclusive efforts internally to ignite transformational thinking expands the value we provide to our customers and continues to drive us to be the supplier of choice for growing businesses like PetroCard,” McGinnis says.

Long-term success happens when you find business allies who believe in what you believe, succeed when you succeed and share a vision of the future. And it all starts with a conversation.

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