Nearly 75 years ago, Indiana farmers selected Mt. Vernon, Indiana, as the site where they would build an oil refinery. Over the years, the 28,000 barrel-per-day CountryMark refinery has undergone a number of expansions and upgrades. On August 27, CountryMark hosted a grand opening on its Mt. Vernon campus for a new building and a new chapter in the company’s history books. “Today we are opening the doors to a building we envision will foster dialogue about American oil production, and inspire a new generation to explore career opportunities in the oil industry,” said CountryMark President and CEO Charlie Smith.
Named the CountryMark Pavilion, the building promises to be a unique destination site within the tri-state area. “Inside this 7,000 square foot structure, we have built a museum-quality exhibit that allows visitors to explore areas of geology, oil production, oil refining, product logistics and CountryMark’s farmer-owned cooperative structure,” said Smith.
Within the Pavilion, visitors will be able to:
- Explore a geology pod to learn about the structure of the Illinois Basin and the clues that were left from millions of years ago for geologist to examine while searching for oil.
- Take a virtual tour of the oil refining process to see how crude oil enters the refinery, molecularly changes and exits as valuable products.
- Walk along the interactive wall and see how CountryMark’s upstream and downstream businesses give the company a unique opportunity to control product quality from the time the crude oil is taken out of the ground to the time the refined fuels are delivered to the customer.
- Sit in the theater to view a 10-minute film that follows CountryMark employees, customers and business partners through their day on a journey from oil exploration to fuel delivery.
“The Pavilion is a 360 degree view of CountryMark and the petroleum industry, and we could not have created this educational experience without the leadership and expertise of our 18 member Pavilion Team,” said CountryMark Vice President of Marketing Jon Lantz. “These employees and business partners served as subject matter experts and provided valuable input and feedback as the educational exhibit was developed.”
The Pavilion will open next month to CountryMark customers, owners, business partners and employees. In the coming months, civic, youth, and school organizations will be invited to the Pavilion for educational programs and tours. “Every component of the education experience was created to insure that it would be both interesting and understandable for an 8 year old as well as an adult,” said Raylee Honeycutt, who served as the Pavilion Employee Committee Chair. “It also gives us a unique platform to connect audiences to opportunities within the petroleum industry that have STEM-related careers or roles tied to science, technology, engineering and math.”
The CountryMark Pavilion replaced the company’s shelter house, which had been used to host meetings on the CountryMark Mt. Vernon campus since 1956. As a company, CountryMark had outgrown the space, and the time had come to build a modern venue for meeting and training events, as well as educational outreach.
“It is vital, and our responsibility, for the future success of our company, industry and regional economy to tell our story and be advocates for our industry,” said Smith. “The Pavilion will provide the perfect setting for having those conversations.”