Signs of maturity.

This weekend a bunch of people volunteered to help us modernize the office. Tasks included removing carpet that had been glued down in the late 70’s or early 80’s, removing ceiling tiles to expose the bare bones of the ceiling rafters, as well as removing various wires left  over from projects both strange and mysterious.

It was incredible to see everyone working together, young and old, lending hearts and hands to help.

I may not have mentioned this before, but I am a new to the area, and have spent a good deal of time trying to make friends and influence people.

So much time is spent on plant building and making improvements that a “beautification” project on the front office seemed to me a really low priority before we started. But as we worked together throughout the day, hauling out carpet remnants, scraping glue off the floor, and stacking ceiling tiles, I began to realize how important this event was as a symbol of growth and as a step toward maturing the cooperative.

Of course, when we started the project it seemed pretty straightforward. We still have a good deal of work left to do, including scraping glue and painting walls.

At least the hardest part is over; convincing me that this was something worth doing I believe will really pay off.

Make it a better place!


The first post of the new year!

2010. A new year. Almost everything seems possible; everything except the passage of the biodiesel blenders credit renewal.

Everyone I have spoken to seems certain that the credit will be reinstated in a retroactive fashion. I’m pretty certain.

In an interview published in the Wisconsin Ag Connection Michael Frohlich, the NBB’s Director of Federal Communication, was quoted as saying “Pretty much every plant is idle.”

Strangely enough, things do not feel very idle at Promethean. I believe the same may be true for the majority of small poducers I have spoken to.

Oil prices seem to have remained steady.

The big news is related to RFS2. I called the EPA on Monday in the hopes of getting an updated status on the progress of the rulemaking as well as some sort of advanced information on what may be included that would interest the biodiesel industry. I received nothing more than a statement that sounded pre-canned saying that the rules would be out soon. The rest was classified, or as close to classified as the EPA gets.

RFS2 is potentially an industry game-changer. Optimistic estimates place final rule implementation sometime in the Spring of 2010.

We have been working on MRU’s (Methanol Recovery Units) this month, primarily on design/build projects for other plants.

Strangely enough I almost always fall in love with the things we build, and really hate seeing them go into service somewhere else. So much time and energy goes into the design and fabrication, and we view our equipment not only in the sense of its utility and efficiency of performing its function but also as a quasi-artistic endeavor and the opportunity to demonstrate good old-fashioned American ingenuity.

This year, with all its promise, may be more challenging for the biodiesel industry than the last.

RFS 2 will bring new compliance challenges, and organizations will need to adapt their business processes appropriately. Lack of a tax credit may make it difficult for existing producers to maintain profitability, or maintain staffing levels. It may alos be an opportunity for new entrants to carve out a niche in makets that may have been dominated by large but credit dependent competitors.

Only time will tell.

Make it a better place!