A positive outcome

Nathan Oster

Our above-the-fold, front-page story this week heralds the dawn of a new era for one of key industries that power our economy in south Big Horn County.
M-I SWACO and Wyo-Ben are among the largest employers in the Greybull area and it’s been that way for more than seven decades, since they started in the early 1950s.
While their workforces have ebbed and flowed, depending upon market conditions, we’ve always been able to count on the two plants to provide good-paying jobs that keep people here.
Now that they’ve merged, with Wyo-Ben, Inc., announcing the acquisition of M-I SWACO’s assets in the Greybull area, we can count on that continuing for many years to come.
It was interesting to research the origins of the two companies for this week’s story.  We’d hoped to get a few more details about M-I’s evolution and why it proceeded with the deal, but our calls and emails were not returned.
In a submission for our 2008 Progress edition, M-I SWACO reported having 188 employees in Greybull and staked the claim to being “the largest employer in the area.”
The publication came out that spring and at the time, M-I SWACO predicted that it would ship 700,000 tons of product to oilfield, granular, export, environmental and water-well markets by year’s end.
Fast forward 15 years to present day.  M-I’s Greybull workforce at the time of the acquisition was estimated to be between 75 and 80 people. For months, their employees have heard the rumors that something was brewing. Some wondered how much longer they’d have a job, what they’d do next and how they’d support their families.
No longer. Wyo-Ben’s CEO couldn’t have said it in more definitive terms.  Paraphrasing, M-I employees are not only welcome but needed in the Wyo-Ben family. As a team, they’ll do great things.  Just you watch.
All of which brings us around to the point.  What if it hadn’t worked out this way?  Imagine a different outcome -- the plant closing, 75 to 80 people losing their jobs and the impact that would have on our local businesses, our schools, our organizations. Or imagine if a different company had swooped in, one with no connections whatsoever to the community.
Neither is appealing, which is why what we are able to report this week — no one losing their jobs and everyone under the roof of a family operation with Wyo-Ben’s track record of success — seems like the best possible outcome for everyone.