Case Studies

Don Taggart – Par Pacific Holdings

Construction director well-suited for any role at nomnom

It’s not every construction director who on occasion dons a purple mongoose costume but to Don Taggart, his lines of responsibility blur at Par Pacific Holdings.

Though he’s the senior manager of environmental construction and facilities for the company’s growing number of nomnom convenience stores and fueling stations in Washington and Idaho, Taggart takes on unconventional roles as needed.

“I’m kind of a help-everybody-out kind of guy,” he tells Blueprint this past summer from Spokane, Washington. “I’ve never been a ‘no-man’ when asked to do something out of the ordinary. In that sense, I’m a ‘yes-man.’”

Don Taggart | Construction Director | Par Pacific Holdings

So, when nomnom gives away Froozee—its version of Slurpees—at kids’ events, Taggart might be driving the truck. When the Spokane Indians, a High-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies, hosted a kids’ night at Avista Stadium, Taggart tossed out the ceremonial first ball while clad as the nomnom mascot, the “nomgoose”—just as he’s done at so many other community events.

And the reason for that mascot being a high-spirited weasel-like carnivore quick enough to kill a king cobra and devour it? Well, as Taggart explains, the critters were brought from their native Asia to Hawaii in the 19th century to make a dent on the rat population at sugar plantations.

Nomnom having a connection to Hawaii through its parent company, he says it made sense to adapt the mongoose as its mascot, albeit by downplaying its savage side with Disney- or Cookie Monster-like big eyes and smile. That too fits the game plan.

“We want an almost Disneyland feel at our stores,” Taggart goes on to say. “We’re about fashioning customer loyalty. We’re also clean and uncluttered. You don’t have to be afraid to use our bathrooms.”

Big plans for Bigelow

He’s upholding those standards in, among other places, the Bigelow part of Spokane County, where the first ground-up nomnom is soon to open as the 34th outlet in his jurisdiction.

It’ll be state-of-the-art and nothing like the existing repurposed locations, Taggart says, describing this one as nearly 5,000 square feet with an open-floor plan and high ceilings. There’ll be six dispensers for all types of fuel and, above the entrance, two big N’s amidst a purple, maroon and pink exterior.

As is the nomnom norm, there’ll be a rewards program and a wide food and beverage selection—Taggart explains that the unusual name is meant to express the satisfaction one gets from a bite of a snack or ready meal.

“This is not just another gas station,” he assures. “We designed this store based on what products we want to carry for our customers, and we are able to customize the experience.”

A large part of that experience includes a focus on safety, an area Taggart is well schooled to oversee as a construction veteran. The company has upgraded every storage tank to double-wall, all of which are subject to monthly testing, with employees required to undergo stringent environmental training. Safety spill kits are at every locale.

Grounds for the Bigelow nomnom broke last November and it might have been complete by summer if not for disrupted supply chains and the general contractor enduring staffing issues. But, as Taggart reminds, those are matters besetting the construction industry in general, and nomnom intends to keep expanding its footprint in his part of the Pacific Northwest.

Thus, he’s sure to keep busy as Par Pacific looks to acquire competitors or do its own ground-ups—and preferring the latter. Often-times, Taggart says, it’s easier to build from scratch than to take custody of a competitor who might have bequeathed leaky tanks or other liability.

He’ll also be on the road constantly, driving among the stores he oversees, many of which are clustered near the border of the two states he so loves. Then there are his trips to Par Pacific’s Houston headquarters, where he undergoes leadership training, and the excursions to Hawaii.

It’s all part of being the construction boss for a segment of a corporate parent that’s something of a one-stop when it comes to fuel.

Well-grounded

The nomnom outlets are an extension of Par Pacific’s other operations that include refining and distributing oil. It refines crude in Hawaii, Washington, Wyoming and Montana, and distributes through barges and nearly 550 miles of pipeline. Its retail outlets go by the Hele brand in Hawaii and nomnom in the PNW.

Constructing and maintaining the refineries and pipelines are someone else’s responsibility, Taggart focusing on nomnom. Having been a Par Pacific contractor for more than two decades, he says he was a natural for this in-house role since July 2021.

Time was, however, when Taggart envisioned himself in a different industry. An aeronautical engineering student, first at Vincennes University and then Purdue, he earned credentials in airframes and power plants. The 9/11 terrorist attacks putting the kibosh on those possibilities, Taggart transitioned to construction and says he’s never regretted it.

But his role has changed, Taggart going from boots on the ground to being in an office more than he’d prefer. Such are the consequences of career advancement.

“I like to be outside more than inside,” he says. “I’m not really confined to a desk, but I’m spending more time there than before. But I’m never bored and that’s what I’d hate the most.”

He oversees just four direct reports for maintenance and safety. But each of the 34 stores having five or six employees, he’s indirectly in charge of a couple hundred or more, and that’s likely to increase with more nomnom outlets planned. Then there are the renovations planned at existing locations, with the finishing touches recently applied to a nomnom in Grangeville, Idaho.

While he’s keen to do his part, Taggart acknowledges his to-do list might leave little time for his favorite hobbies of golf and fishing. But he finds perks aplenty on the job.

“It’s satisfying to drive around Spokane and see the areas I’ve worked on,” he says. “I’m able to leave something behind … and the mongoose role is fun, especially when it brings joy to the children’s programs we support in our communities.”

View this feature in the Blueprint Vol. IX 2023 Edition here.

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