Smith spent 38 years in various aspects of the petroleum and petrochemical industry including research and development, plant operations and engineering and construction.
He spent the first 10 years of his career with ARCO (Atlantic Richfield Company), before moving to Fluor Daniel and into management. There, he was process manager on a $900 million refinery expansion and headed up the sales and marketing divisions of the company.
Smith retired from Black & Veatch in 2000. He spent seven years there as executive vice president and chief operation officer of the Process Division, where he was known as a great teacher who always spent time explaining the reasoning and rationale behind problem solving.