Search Continues For Flint Hills Buyer

By Wyatt Goolsby
NewsWest 9

ODESSA - Workers in Odessa are bracing for another round of layoffs at the Flint Hills plant, but that doesn't mean they're giving up hope.  At least 165 former and current employees have banned together to try and find a buyer.

According to the Texas Workforce Commission, Flint Hills in Odessa will be laying off at least 112 employees by the end of the month. The company announced back in November because it was too costly to upgrade the facility, they will shut it down this May. 

However, one group is still searching for a new investor. They say the facility is important enough for the local economy, they are doing their best to keep it open.

"I have no idea what it's going to take or how long it's going to be, but we've made a lot of progress already and I'm confident we will continue to," Michael DeShazo, a member of a new employee stock ownership plan, said.

DeShazo said when Flint Hills closes down, there is still a chance for someone else to re-open it. It's an idea 165 current and former employees bought into. The money goes to finding a new investor for the plant.

"This plant is a really efficient cash generating machine, and the products it makes are unique, the timing is right, feed stock is as cheap as its going to be," DeShazo explained.

DeShazo said finding a buyer isn't that easy.

"There needs to be a net worth for investing at about 300 million dollars," DeShazo said.

So far, several investors, like Nick Fowler with Orion Pacific-Orrex, told NewsWest 9 they are interesting in buying part of the plant. It's still a challenge, however, in getting more investors on board.

"The problem is, is getting the groups together," DeShazo explained. "Most of the investors we've talked with have not had the "wherewithall" to do the whole thing."

Even with so many hurdles, DeShazo said he's thinks with enough support, the plant could be re-opened.

"You have to take one step at a time," DeShazo said. "The road to Rome began with one step, and that's what we are doing."

The road could be a long one. Even if investors decide to buy parts of the plant, there is still no word on how long it would take to get through the red tape. If they do get that far, it may not happen until after Flint Hills shuts down in May.