John G. Drosdick

Chairman, chief executive officer, and president, Sunoco; chairman, Sunoco Logistics Partners

Nationality: American.

Born: August 9, 1943, in West Hazleton, Pennsylvania.

Education: Villanova University, BS, 1965; University of Massachusetts–Amherst, MS, 1968.

Family: Married Gloria J. Shenosky; children: four.

Career: Exxon USA, 1968–1973, engineer; 1973–1974, crude-oil coordinator; 1974–1976, planning manager for ocean operations; 1976–1978, manager of development department; 1978–1981, analysis manager; 1981–1983, manager of refinery operations; Tosco Corporation, 1983–1985, vice president of refining; 1985–1986, senior vice president of refining; 1986–1987, executive vice president; 1987–1989, president and COO; Tosco Refining Company, 1989–1992, CEO and president; Ultramar, 1992–1996, president and COO; Sun Company, 1996–1998, president and COO; Sunoco, 1998–2000, president and COO; 2000–, chairman, CEO, and president; Sunoco Logistics Partners, 2001–, chairman.

Awards: J. Stanley Morehouse Memorial Award, Villanova University Alumni Association, 1999.

Address: Sunoco, 10 Penn Center, 1801 Market Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19103-1699;

■ At Tosco and Ultramar, John G. Drosdick built a reputation for reforming corporate culture as well as for cutting costs; at Sunoco he demonstrated an ability to rebuild a company. His employees responded well to his straightforward directions, and he had a knack for making his goals plain to his managers. Although he made tough decisions as a leader, Drosdick had a sense of humor and a relaxed manner that translated not only into his flashy suits but into a cheerful corporate atmosphere.


Drosdick earned a bachelor's degree from Villanova University in 1965 and a master's degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 1968, both in chemical engineering. In 1968 he was hired by Exxon USA and moved to Houston, Texas; in 1976 he moved to Baton Rouge to manage Exxon's department of facilities development; and in 1981 he became manager of Exxon's refinery operations. Tosco Corporation hired Drosdick away in 1983 in order to obtain his help with their failing refinery business, making him vice president of that division; he moved to Santa Monica, California. As corporate executive vice president in 1986 he helped restructure Tosco's debt: the company sold $150 million in bonds and issued $250 million in preferred stock to pay off loans from 19 banks. While president and chief operating officer of Tosco, Drosdick engineered the sales of three of the company's four refineries, keeping one in California, where he cut costs and improved production.

When he moved to Ultramar in Long Beach, California, Drosdick took over the operations of another petroleum company in decline. There he cut costs and set up a merger with Diamond Shamrock, creating Ultramar Diamond Shamrock Corporation; the merger occurred soon after he left to join Sun Company, another petroleum company that had endured tough times in the 1990s.


In November 1996 Drosdick became the first person from outside Sun Company to be named president. Corporate headquarters lay in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and he moved to Bryn Mawr. The CEO Robert H. Campbell had already begun restructuring Sun Company through the selling of its international operations, and as president Drosdick oversaw the final stages of reorganization. His day-to-day presence was quickly felt among coworkers in Philadelphia, where he created a notably upbeat atmosphere. He remarked in the Philadelphia Business Journal , "I don't think you can be too clear with people" (May 2, 1997), as he made sure his managers knew exactly what was expected of them.

In 1997 Sun Company's net income rose $270 million, and Drosdick was paid $560,000 in salary; he was promised bonuses of up 90 percent of his base salary if the company continued to improve. On November 6, 1998, Sun Company became Sunoco, a name intended to signify happier times at the company, but 1999 proved to be a very tough year. Gasoline prices went into a slump, and Drosdick was forced to oversee layoffs of refinery employees. Still, he earned a $73,200 bonus on top of his year's salary of $610,012.


On May 4, 2000, while remaining president, Drosdick became CEO and chairman of the board at Sunoco, replacing Campbell. His vision was to make the company resistant to the up-and-down cycles of the petroleum industry. In 2000 Sunoco's biggest move was the acquisition of one hundred gas stations owned by Coastal Mart in the eastern United States. The stations and their convenience stores were renamed Sunoco and APlus. That year Sunoco netted $438 million.

In January 2001 Sunoco purchased Aristech Chemical Corporation of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, from Mitsubishi Corporation for $674 million. The purchase included a research center and five chemical plants, with totals of 1,100 employees, and gave Sunoco the capacity to produce nine billion pounds of petrochemicals. Further, the deal was expected to give Sunoco economic "balance," as Drosdick explained, because chemical-sales cycles tended to oppose gasoline-sales cycles; chemical sales would cushion Sunoco during periods of poor gasoline sales. Unfortunately, for the first nine months of 2001 Sunoco's chemical business lost $21 million—$9 million by Aristech—on sales of $1.1 billion. Still, Drosdick had bought Aristech from the cash-strapped Mitsubishi for only half of its worth, and the purchase was intended to be a long-term investment.

In 2001 Sunoco dropped its Kendall lubricant line and shut down its Yabucoa, Puerto Rico, refinery and three related lubricant plants in California, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania. Drosdick searched for buyers for the facilities without success. At the end of 2001 Sunoco possessed 3,900 gas-station and convenience-store outlets and 35 terminals for petroleum-products storage. The company netted $390 million for the year.

In June 2003 Sunoco purchased 193 gas stations and convenience stores in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina from Speedway SuperAmerica—a subsidiary of Marathon Ashland Petroleum—for $140 million. By the end of the year Sunoco owned over 4,300 retail sites, and the convenience stores were helping keep the bottom line steady. The company bought the Eagle Point refinery from El Paso for $130 million—the price was considered low because few companies were interested in buying the plant. Sunoco's refining capacity grew to 730,000 barrels per day; it began the year as America's ninth-largest petroleum company and finished as the eighth–largest.

During this period, as Sunoco had come under fire from environmentalists as well as Congress for polluting the air at its manufacturing plants, the company undertook the installation of new pollutant-capture technology at its facilities. The most dramatic environmental effort came in 2004, when Sunoco built a new manufacturing plant for the solid fuel coke, used in making high-grade metals, in Haverill, Ohio, for $140 million. The plant included a special heat-recovery system that would produce steam to be piped to a Sunoco chemical plant, thus reducing pollution as well as recycling recovered energy. That year Sunoco's retail empire grew to 4,600 sites.

See also entries on Sunoco, Inc., Tosco Corporation, and Ultramar PLC in International Directory of Company Histories .

sources for further information

Bishop, Todd, "Drosdick to Become Top Gun at Sunoco," Philadelphia Business Journal , April 28, 2000, .

Reisch, Marc S., "Buying at the Low Point," Chemical & Engineering News , November 5, 2001, pp. 18–19.

Webber, Maura, "Sun 'Outsider' Drosdick Is Shaking Things Up," Philadelphia Business Journal , May 2, 1997, .

—Kirk H. Beetz

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