By EARL WATT • Daily Leader
Long, owner and operator of Panhandle Oilfield Services, filed as a candidate for commission today.
Tim Long has seen booms and busts in the oil patch for the past 28 years.
He has learned how to be successful in both, and he wants to take those skills with him to the Liberal City Commission.
Long has taken his business from a three-man operation with some inspection equipment 28 years ago to a full-service company with 189 employees and offices in Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and the corporate office here in Liberal.
“We employ 78 of those right here,” Long said.
Other than drilling and finishing, Long’s company provides all other services to the oil industry, from equipment and pipeline sales to trucking, construction and more.
In those capacities, Long has developed his plan for a service- oriented company, and it includes adding success and value to his customers and his staff.
It was that commitment of service that led him to run for the commission.
“Liberal is a unique place to live,” he said. “I think we have a lot to offer. It’s future is great. We can go anywhere we want to go. But we can’t grow just for the sake of growth. We have to have smart growth. Due diligence needs to be done. We need to grow in a way that brings value and success to the community. Dodge City and Garden City are outgrowing us, and Guymon (Okla.) is catching up. To make Liberal a place that will grow in both retail and industry, we need to make it a place where people want to bring their family. I believe we can do that.”
To attract business, Long said both industry and retail were critical to creating economic success and value.
“The size of your town will accommodate certain things,” he said. “As population grows, retail will naturally grow with that. But we have to have a workforce here to accommodate both retail and industry. We have that, and we can attract that. We have to emphasize industry to start, and retail needs to grow right along with it.”
To create the community enhancement that will be attractive to both industry and families, Long said the 1-cent sales tax needs to be used as a tool to help create the value added to Liberal. But he cautioned about how the money may be spent in the future.
“The 1-cent sales tax is a very important tool, and we need to keep it,” he said. “We have to use it wisely. There are some who believe we have done some good things, and some believe we have done some not- so-good things. My goal will be to make sure it is used for the right thing at the right time.”
A critical issue that the next city commission will face is the water treatment plant. Some estimates have the necessary upgrades as high as $70 million.
“National (Beef) will have to participate with us on that,” Long said. “The reason for the upgrade is because of National’s wastewater treatment. This has to be negotiated properly. This is probably one of the biggest expenditures in Liberal’s history. We cannot afford any overlooks or oversights. In our business, we handle contracts every day. This is one that has to be done right.”
Issues like this, as well as others that face the community, is where Long believes there should be a collaborative effort.
“Part of leadership is working as a team,” he said. “It is very important for the community and the leaders to work together to solve our challenges and come up with the right answers. There are things we want to do as a community, and things we need to do. We have to do the things we need to do, and we have to do them right. This requires a team effort. ‘Team’ always gets more done than ‘I’ can.”
Long graduated from Leadership Liberal in 2007, and that experience, coupled with his service-oriented business background, provided his perspective on being an elected official.
“Serving in public office is a privilege,” he said. “It is a privilege to be in the business I’m in and to get to work with the people I have here.”
Although a city cannot be run like a business, Long said there are business principles he has learned that can help.
“I know how to make tough decisions in tough times,” he said.
Long said his commitment to Liberal has always been long term. His family lives here and his two sons have made commitments to work at the company as well.
“We’re not going anywhere,” he said. “We love it here. We believe Liberal has a lot to offer. Providing service to people is something I’ve done all my life. I value people, and I try to add success to everyone I work for. I want to provide those same principles to the taxpayers of the community.”