AUSA Culture Clash

The situation in the Houston headquarters was not uncommon in the acquisitions that RJR made.  The conflict was the result of very different management philosophies.  Sometimes it took years to bring two companies into alignment, but in the case of AUSA, the new CEO, George Trimble, wasted no time.  As one of the New York staff described the situation:

“A dozen or so executives in Houston had voted themselves long term contracts prior to the acquisition to protect their positions.  They had big salaries and benefits, including company cars and club memberships.  A bloated staff in the profligate digs of the oil business in Houston did the heavy lifting.”

The executive group held a regular Wednesday afternoon “Prayer Meeting” where the alcohol flowed freely, and the execs enjoyed the ambiance and prestige of running a sizable oil business.  The Exploration and Production groups had some very good executives and technical staff, but the general manager was not to Jack Sunderland’s liking.  Jack brought in George Trimble to deal with the situation. George had run Exxon’s Abadan refinery in Iran, the largest in the world. He was a crusty retired exec who took a hatchet to the problems, using creative ways to get the former Burmah men to surrender their contracts or face other consequences.  Over time he assembled a new team including several of the New Yorkers who transferred to Houston.”