Since its incorporation in 1901, New Canaan has attracted many corporate leaders from nearby New York City. Oil executives in Connecticut have include top industry leaders, according to Andrea Sandor, who is part of a local effort to preserve an early 1900s Standard Oil Company of New York carriage house (see Preserving a Standard Oil Barn).
Among leading oil and natural gas company executives who have lived in New Canaan, about 50 miles northeast of New York City, at least three played important roles at Standard Oil of New York’s successor, ExxonMobil. Rawleigh Warner Jr. (1921-2013) spent most of his career helping transform Mobil Oil into one of the world’s largest corporations. Another New Canaan resident, Edwin C. Holmer (1921-2008) served as president of Exxon Chemical Company in the 1970s and later as a vice president of Exxon Corporation.
Arthur R. Mardoian (1927-2014) joined Socony Vacuum Oil in 1954, long before it became Mobil Oil. Socony (Standard Oil Company of New York) Vacuum Oil Company was one of the 34 companies formed after the Supreme Court broke up the Standard Oil Trust in 1911. Mardoian led a Mobil task force, which “designed, erected and successfully operated the world’s first commercial zeolitic catalyst plant,” noted the New Canaan Advertiser in his June 4, 2014, obituary. Known by chemists as molecular sieves, zeolites can be found in most of the major catalytic processes in modern petroleum refineries.
“Today, the worldwide petroleum industry is dependent on the use of zeolitic catalysts to produce vastly increased gasoline yields and other valuable products,” explained the New Canaan Advertiser. “In addition, Mr. Mardoian authored Mobil’s company-wide Transportation Emergency Response System to react, within minutes, to company hydrocarbon spills within the United States.”
Edwin Holmer received a chemical engineering degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York, in 1942. He worked at Standard Oil Company of New Jersey (now ExxonMobil) and became president of the Exxon Chemical Corporation. In the 1980s he served as chairman of the Chemical Manufacturers Association, which became the American Chemistry Council in 2000.
Rawleigh Warner Jr. graduated from Princeton and followed his father into the oil business. By the 1980s he helped make Mobil Oil Corporation the second-largest American company after Exxon (the companies merged in 1999).
As Mobil chair and CEO from 1969 to 1986, Warner enhanced the company’s image by introducing “Masterpiece Theater” to public television in 1971. Sponsorship of the WGBH Boston program, encouraged by Mobil Vice President Herbert Schmertz, proved to be a major public relations success.
Warner’s father had been chairman of Pure Oil Company, which began by marketed illuminating oil by tank wagons in the late 1890s in Philadelphia and New York — successfully competing with the Standard Oil monopoly. Warner Jr.’s oil career began in 1948 when he joined the financial department of Continental Oil Company in Houston, Texas. In 1953, Warner was recruited by the Socony-Vacuum Oil Company, where he eventually became a regional vice became president of the renamed Socony Mobil Oil Company in 1965. The company changed its name to Mobil a year later.
Warner replaced the corporate logo of Pegasus with simple block red and blue letters; however, many ExxonMobil company products still feature the winged red horse, a trademark since its affiliation with Magnolia Petroleum Company in the 1930s. The Vacuum Oil Company trademarked the Pegasus logo in 1911. Learn more about the logo’s petroleum heritage in Mobil’s High Flying Trademark.
The American Oil & Gas Historical Society preserves U.S. petroleum history. Support this AOGHS.org energy education website with a donation today. For membership information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. © 2018 Bruce A. Wells.