Stephanie Bushong and Joe Solomon
Stephanie Bushong and Joe Solomon – PSR’s “father-daughter” act!

Joe Solomon went to work at the Puget Sound Refinery when his daughter was just one. Nearly three decades later, Joe, now the refinery’s emergency response coordinator and fire chief, is still there. And the daughter? Stephanie Bushong, now 29, works as a capital business analyst in the refinery’s finance department.

The refinery is very much a family affair for the two of them.

“He’s been here my whole life,” Stephanie says. “A lot of the people that work here I have known for a very long time, and many of them I would consider my family.”

Stephanie’s three uncles also are refinery veterans; two recently retired. Joe first brought Stephanie to the refinery to visit when she was in grade school during the ‘Bring your child to work’ program that allowed employees of the refinery to share their work atmosphere with their children. She drew her first paycheck there as a college student about 10 years ago.

“Testing fire hoses for the fire hall was my first job as a summer-hire,” Stephanie recalls. “We had fun that first summer, it was hard work but it was fun to work in the field, use the equipment and see a lot of people I hadn’t seen in years. Needless to say it was so much fun I returned for three more summers while I finished up my degree at Western.”

Joe, who was born and raised in Concrete and has lived his entire life in the Skagit Valley, remembers some initial concerns when his daughter started working at the refinery.

“She has multiple dads out here that have known her all her life,” he recalls. “So I knew there would be a lot of eyes watching over her, and there were.”

Stephanie Bushong and Joe Solomon
Stephanie Bushong and Joe Solomon – PSR’s “father-daughter” act!

Today, a decade and a degree from Western Washington University later, she drives efficiencies and competitiveness in the refinery’s capital project financial space, imposing discipline spending and managing risks to help keep the refinery profitable.

“I always knew this was the place that I wanted to build my career. I thought of it as a wonderful place to work, because I saw all the strong relationships that were built out here my whole life,” Stephanie said.

Joe, meanwhile, is responsible for emergency response planning at the refinery, and in a prior role coordinated all the investigations and near-misses, which now happen less frequently than when he started decades ago.

“It’s more stressed upon in today’s world than it ever has been,” Joe says of the refinery’s safety culture. “We’ve made so many improvements to the sites physically along with procedurally. It’s just unbelievable.”

From her childhood, Stephanie remembered an incident that crystallized Joe’s focus on keeping the refinery’s workers and neighbors safe.  “There was an incident that had happened and I remember that just hitting him,” Stephanie recalls. “That’s when a lot of things changed. He said we all need to be more focused on safety. It’s a very serious thing. We’re a family. Whether we’re blood or not, we’re all family and we have to look out for each other.”

Stephanie’s own family is even more deeply rooted in the industry. Her husband works at the Tesoro refinery next door. The couple has a five-year-old son, Brady, and lives in Alger, where they like to spend most of their free time on outdoor activities.

“I’ve recently started to mountain bike which I’ve really enjoyed but we also have a sandrail, dirt bikes and quads, and love to take family vacations to the dunes every year,” Stephanie says.” “We love camping with family and friends!”

Among the things she enjoys about working at the refinery is its involvement in the community.

Stephanie serves as the treasurer for PSR Adopt-A-Family, which raises money throughout the year for low-income pre-school students. Last year they provided 560 students with gifts, books, snacks and educational tools at 8 different schools in Skagit County.

“I knew when I came out here 10 years ago that this was a fabulous place to work. People in the community are so supportive of the refinery and what we do for this community. It was just kind of a no-brainer.”