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FARMER A good steward of the land, efficient energy consumer and high-yield producer.

LEADING THE CHARGE Emily Skor, Growth Energy’s New CEO.

THE HISTORY OF POET – A NEW NAME FOR A NEW ERA Unifying all the Broin companies and teams under one brand sets the stage for the future.

HERE’S TO THE NEW YOU! POET promotes workforce development.

Fall 2016








by Thom Gabrukiewicz Emily Skor, Growth Energy’s New CEO.


by Peter Harriman and Alyssa Broin Unifying all the Broin companies and teams under one brand sets the stage for the future.


by Janna Farley POET promotes workforce development.

38 LOVED AND ACCEPTED computer Visit for the latest news, career opportunities and plant profiles.

by Tammi Gilley Children’s Home Society provides the feeling of home for children who desperately need it.




by Jeff Broin








by Scott Johnson


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COPYRIGHT Vital is published quarterly by POET, LLC and other individuals or entities. All materials within are subject to copyrights owned by POET. Any reproduction of all or part of any document found in Vital is expressly prohibited, unless POET or the copyright owner of the material has expressly granted its prior written consent to so reproduce, retransmit or republish the material. All other rights reserved. For questions, contact the POET legal department at 605.965.2200. The opinions and statements expressed by content contributors and advertisers in Vital are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of POET. Neither POET nor its third-party content providers shall be liable for any inaccuracies contained within Vital, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.

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©2016 POET, LLC. All rights reserved.

Publication Design & Layout: Cassie Medema

IN SIGHT by Jeff Broin, Executive Chairman and CEO of POET

CREATING THE FUTURE It’s no secret. Decisions made in Washington, D.C. have an incredible impact on the ethanol industry. For the past several years, POET has actively engaged lawmakers and administration officials urging their support of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Since 2009, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released proposed Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO) numbers which determine the number of gallons of renewable fuel to be blended into the fuel supply. Under the law, EPA should maintain the levels that were initially written and signed by President Bush. Yet every year their proposals fall short of what Congress intended. It is frustrating that each year we’ve had to battle for our piece of the pie. When Congress passed the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which created the current RFS, part of that legislation explicitly set a table of yearly volume requirements out to 2022. Lately, I’ve started hearing questions about what will happen to the RFS post-2022. Does it expire? Will any biofuels be blended into the fuel supply? Will Congress pass a new law? Will ethanol and corn producers be protected? While we may not have the answers to every question, let’s discuss what we do know. The explicit volumes called for under the RFS for different kinds of biofuels (ethanol, cellulosic, biodiesel and other advanced biofuels) will indeed end in 2022. However, even after that year, the RFS continues to put the responsibility on the EPA to set yearly volumes. Put simply, even after 2022, the RFS protects our industry from Big Oil halting its blending and going backward toward the monopoly we are all a part of dismantling. Despite this, some think we should reopen the RFS and take away the authority from EPA. At first glance, it sounds good. Working with the EPA is complex and requires a lot of effort from Growth Energy, POET and all of us and our families to provide comments and actively engage in the regulatory process. However, we believe the flip side of opening up the RFS and trying to modify it presents a pretty bleak scenario for all of us. The



ethanol industry would open itself to attacks and reform we may not like. Make no mistake, our opponents have an army in Washington. The oil industry is well-funded and relentless. They salivate at the thought of any opportunity to halt and reverse our industry’s progress. Big Oil would love nothing more than to gut the RFS, but in order to do so they have to get agreement from our side to open it up for modification. This is why we’ve drawn a hard line in the sand: “No changes to the RFS.” Most, if not all, leaders in our industry agree that any discussion of RFS repeal or reform is contrary to the best interests of our industry, our corn producers and the economies our industry supports. The path forward after 2022 isn’t perfect. It may require we continue to stay engaged in Washington, D.C. for the long-term. It may mean we all have to let future presidents and EPA administrators know how we feel and push them as hard as we have these past years. But all of us stand to benefit keeping the law intact and unchanged. The consequences of failing to do so are indisputable. Without biofuels like ethanol, we’d be forced to use even more toxic, cancer-causing chemicals in our gasoline. Renewable biofuels reduce greenhouse gasses by anywhere from 34 percent to over 100 percent, depending on the feedstock. Ethanol also has the highest blending octane of available additives, which helps engines run cooler, more efficiently and with fewer emissions. These reasons alone should leave no doubt in your mind about the power our industry has to change the world around us. Many of you have been part of this battle for years and for that, I’d like to personally thank you. Thank you for taking the time to call your elected officials, send letters to the Obama Administration or mail postcards to the EPA expressing your support for the renewable fuels industry. President Abraham Lincoln, and countless others after him, once said: “The best way to predict your future is to create it.” That’s exactly what we do here at POET. We are creating the solutions that will eliminate toxic fuels from our lives and working tirelessly toward an oilfree world.

Contributing Every Day to the Lives of Ordinary Americans Our processes and equipment contribute to thousands of products we use daily‌the OJ we drink in the morning, the cheese sandwich we eat for lunch, the fuel we fill our cars with, the medicines we take to be well, even the water we drink. For over a century, GEA has been working to help make the products that make our world what it is today. Moving forward, our commitment continues as we work with POET to provide the separating technology required to produce renewable biofuels and agricultural co-products. To learn more about GEA’s centrifuges and separation equipment


and the industries we serve, email us at, call 800-722-6622, or visit us online at

d e m o c r at i c T I C K E T









1 ST OF 3


EDUCATION: Wellesley College

Yale Law School SPOUSE: Bill Clinton CHILDREN: 1 Child & 2 Grandchildren EMPLOYMENT HISTORY:



Evergreen Hillary Clinton


Bill Clinton

STANCE ON BIOFUELS: “Strengthen the Renewable Fuel Standard

so that it drives the development of advanced cellulosic and other advanced biofuels, protects consumers, improves access to E15, E85, and biodiesel blends, and provides investment certainty.”


r e p u b l i c a n









JUNE 14, 1946 QUEENS, NY


4 th OF 5


EDUCATION: University of Pennsylvania

Wharton School of Business SPOUSE: Melania Trump CHILDREN: 5 Children & 8 Grandchildren EMPLOYMENT HISTORY:




Donald Trump


Melania Trump

STANCE ON BIOFUELS: “Ethanol is terrific, especially with the new process. And I am totally in favor of ethanol 100-percent and I will support it.”

© POET Public Policy & Communications, 2016

G u b e r n SPOTLIGHT:



Jay Nixon

Unable to run due to term limits.






S tat i s t i c a l D e a d H e at AGE: 52

AGE: 42







Currently listed as Koster’s race to lose but it is expected to be close.

Won a four-way primary race by running as an outsider. He not only won, but did so by 10 points.

Koster previously won a Missouri State Senate race as a Republican. He changed parties in 2007.

Greitens has never served in public office in the past; however, his background prior to a few years ago was as a Democrat.












a t o r iR aac e sL incumbent:



Mike Pence

Unable to run due to Vice Presidential nomiation.






S tat i s t i c a l D e a d H e at AGE: 48


LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR TO MIKE PENCE The race being listed as a dead heat is viewed as a good thing for Holcomb since he has only been running for Governor since July. Gregg has never stopped campaigning since losing in 2012.



AGE: 62


NARROWLY LOST 2012 GOV. RACE Gregg has made anti-Mike Pence sentiments the focus of his campaign, a strategy that is complicated by the fact Pence is no longer his opponent.










© POET Public Policy & Communications, 2016



Emily Skor, Growth Energy’s New CEO by Thom Gabrukiewicz

First impressions count. You don’t get a second chance to make that first impression. Trust us on this. So it’s a good thing that Emily Skor, Growth Energy’s new Chief Executive Officer, comes off as a person you’d really want to hang out with. Someone you’d want to take time out of your day for – drink coffee and converse, swap a few stories about things inconsequential or debate the serious issues of the day. Because Skor is quick with a story. And she’s selfeffacing, gracious, attentive and passionate – all at the same time. “Vital wants to do a profile on me?” the 41-year-old sincerely asked. “Oh, my gosh, I’m going to have to make myself interesting.” These are qualities that have not been lost on Growth Energy’s Board of Directors – and its outgoing CEO Tom Buis. “Emily’s vision and passion, combined with her successful track record integrating policy and communications into strategic campaigns as well as leading cross-functional organizations make her a natural successor to guide this organization into the future,” Buis said. “Her experience in consumer engagement will help Growth Energy reach new audiences and raise awareness regarding the benefits of ethanol, driving market development and consumer choice.” “She’s one of the most professional, intelligent

executives I’ve ever interacted with,” said Mitch Miller, Chief Executive Officer of Carbon Green BioEnergy and a Growth Energy Board Member. “She just brings a new and fresh insight, and her approach is exactly the direction we want to take.” Skor’s journey to Growth Energy’s CEO has been nontraditional, to say the least. Before joining Growth Energy on May 16, she served as the Vice President for Communications of the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) and the Executive Director of the CHPA Educational Foundation. At CHPA, a member-based trade association advocating for consumer healthcare products and serving as leader on regulatory and scientific issues for the industry, Skor oversaw public affairs campaigns, integrating strategic communications into legislative campaigns and coordinating ally development. Before joining CHPA, Skor served as Senior Vice President at Dezenhall Resources, a nationally recognized crisis communications and issues management firm. For more than a decade, she helped Fortune 500 companies and industry associations manage issues affecting brand confidence and corporate reputation through media, advocacy, coalition building and consumer education campaigns. “I think I happened to come onboard during a - dare I say -

a particularly dynamic time of the industry,” Skor said from her Growth Energy office in Washington, D.C. “My third day on the job was the day that the EPA issued its proposed rules on the (Renewable Fuels Standard). And the fact that I’m coming onboard in the year where you have a Presidential election, well, that’s quite a dynamic there. “I think I’ve come to a very busy, very dynamic industry on a regular day, so there have been some extra-fun, exciting things to welcome me,” she added. “But I welcome that, because it’s trial by fire.” A Minnesota native, Skor grew up in a home that stressed that she – and her three sisters – could be anything they wanted to be. Skor played tennis – she competed in college at the Division III level – and also played classical piano. She entered Wellesley College, an allwoman’s liberal-arts college near Boston, on a political science tract. But found her calling in communications after working as an intern for the Washington, D.C.-based think-tank The Center for Defense Information. It’s where she fell in love with the art of the message by helping co-produce a 30-minute television segment for the Public Broadcasting Service. The topic? Chemical and biological warfare. “As a woman, growing up in a household with only daughters, and then going to an all-woman’s college as I did, you learn that



gender becomes irrelevant,” she said. “Because there’s no comparison. So in a family, you can’t say, ‘Oh your brother will lift the heavy couch,’ or “Oh, your brother will go chop the firewood.’ You do it all. That environment, those two things combined, growing up with all girls and going to Wellesley, has been very influential for me. Because it gave me the confidence to do things irrespective of gender.” It’s another point that is not lost on Growth Energy’s board. “I think this is important and I need to mention this,” said Steve Bleyl, Executive Vice President for Ethanol Marketing for Green Plains Inc., and a Growth Energy board member. “This is a predominately male-oriented industry – I think that is fair to say. So one of the things is, you’re bringing in an outsider in, with limited knowledge of the industry who also happens to be female. And I thought that was a concern when I read through her resume, and when you meet her face-to-face, you get over that in a heartbeat.” Skor’s hire signals a new


direction for Growth Energy, which was launched in 2008 and “represents the producers and supporters of ethanol, who feed the world and fuel America in ways that achieve energy independence, improve economic well-being and create a healthier environment for all

Americans now.” In short, Skor is tasked with bringing the message of ethanol directly to the consumer – whether it be a millennial in San Francisco, a mom in Sioux Falls, SD, or a taxi driver in New York

City. “We’re very good at tailoring our message to politicians,” she said. “We need to do the same thing with consumers. And that’s the real pivot for Growth Energy and for all of our partners – it’s to build consumer narrative that talks to consumers in their terms. Before I came onboard, Growth Energy did some research on this and very much validates this. “Millennials are much more likely to consider higher blends when they understand how much it reduces their carbon footprint – the equivalent of taking millions of cars off the road,” she added. “Parents are more likely to consider higher blends when they understand the clean air benefits for their children. And I think one of the values of me coming in as an outsider is that before this job, I never thought about ethanol, I never thought about corn farmers – and I’m from Minnesota! But I put as much gas into my car as the next person. So talk to me in terms that resonate with me as a parent. I have two young children and you know what? I can make

SEVEN QUESTIONS WITH EMILY SKOR What is your favorite social media platform and why? “Oh my gosh, when I answer this question it’ll make me sound so not hip and cool. My favorite social media platform is probably Facebook. That’s how I stay on top of what’s going on with all my friends. I will mention that my favorite app right now is BuzzFeed.”

Who is the person who made the greatest impact on you and why? “Well, it would probably have to be my mom and dad. They are my role models in every respect. Mom and dad as a role model of just who they are – their work ethic, how they treat people – they are just good people.”

What is your favorite guilty pleasure, for when you really need a snack? “Oh, easy. Dark chocolate. About 60 percent dark chocolate. I’ve sampled enough to know exactly what I like.”

What’s the title of the book on your nightstand? “You know what I’m reading right now is Harper Lee’s new work, ‘Go Set A Watchman.’ I’m about halfway into it, so I don’t know the outcome, so I really don’t know what I think about it. But I’m doing it because I really love ‘To Kill A Mockingbird.’ ”

What is your favorite music to work out to? “I love working out to music. I’ll do all kinds of stuff. I’ll do some hip-hop – oh my gosh, you know what I do now? I ask my 15-year-old nephew what’s new to download. And whatever he gives me, I’ll go download it. And I like to dance, so I also like dance music to work out to.”

Who is the one person, living or dead, you’d like to have dinner with? “Mozart. So we have the same birthday and I grew up playing classical music. And he was brilliant. So to be able to sit down and talk to somebody who was truly brilliant, you know there are very few people like that in the world. I’d love to be able to just see how he thinks. I mean, he was composing symphonies at what, age 6? That just completely blows my mind, you know?”

Do you sing in the shower? “Occasionally (laughs). I also talk to myself a lot in the shower. Just me getting ready for the day. Yeah. I do talk to myself a lot in the shower.”

the air a little more clean with a simple decision at the pump.” To that end, Growth Energy debuted a new consumer website ( in September, and will aggressively engage people across a variety of social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. “It’s the message, but it’s also the messenger,” she said. “It’s getting trusted voices – it’s mothers, it’s car mechanics, it’s trusted leaders in the community. And the vehicle – how do you talk to people? You meet them in their social space, that’s where they are, that’s where they want to have conversations.” “I wanted someone who was more commercially-orientated,” Bleyl said. “And by commercial, I mean communications to the businesses. That was my number one goal. I wanted to be able to say I’m not going to fight this in the courts of law, I don’t want to fight it in mandates in Congress and say we need to do this. I want someone who is going to take us to the next level through – dare I use the word – marketing.” “You excite people on not telling them how (ethanol) is


made, but excite them in what it can do for them,” Skor said. “And we’re going to do that in the digital space. And those platforms will be audience-driven.” When not bringing Growth Energy’s message of clean, renewable energy to the masses, Skor keeps busy with family and volunteers on various boards. She’s married to Sean Cairncross, the Republican National Committee’s Chief Operating Officer. The couple have two children, daughter India, 8, and Dominic, 6. “I actually met my husband in the first grade,” she said. “We dated in high school, we were high school sweethearts. It took him 20 years to convince me that he was the one.” And what do her children think about mom’s new gig in energy and ethanol? “When I told them that you could grow corn and make gasoline for the car, that blew their minds,” Skor said. “And of course, they don’t know that it’s not sweet corn, I know that point is lost on kids. I remember a couple of days after I started we were eating sweet corn at the dinner table and while my

daughter was happily chomping away, she just started chuckling to herself and said: ‘I eat corn, corn to make ethanol, I can’t believe it.’ “They think it’s the coolest thing. They love it.” Nearing the end of an hourlong interview, the discussion shifts from questions about the Renewable Fuel Standard and how Growth Energy plans to use social media to reach soccer moms and millennials to small talk that signaled an end point. Skor began to laugh. “That’s it? Are you sure? This has been fun. Hey, let’s to this next Friday, same time, same place – how about it?” Everyone on the call, including Growth Energy’s Director of Communications Michael Frohlich, is immediately at ease. Part of that lasting impression for anyone who meets Skor. “I am absolutely excited about the future of Growth Energy,” said Carbon Green BioEnergy’s Miller. “Emily is exactly what we needed. “There’s nobody I’d rather have speak for us than Emily Skor.”



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“ Which presidential candidate,

Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, do you think is the best



“Just based on the facts, Hillary Clinton has had the experience of being in the White House and knows about the trials of making big decisions, all while being married to Bill Clinton. I also think she’s much more qualified to make any informed decision on agriculture than (Donald) Trump.”



“Hillary Clinton will be the best advocate for agriculture. She has at least addressed issues that face rural communities and said she will support family farms. I do not believe Donald Trump represents - or cares - one bit about the little guy in any way.”


“My answer is Hillary Clinton. She has been in politics most of her life and I believe she would have better knowledge about agriculture. I don’t think Donald Trump would know anything about the issues surrounding agriculture.”


“I believe Hillary Clinton will be the far better advocate for agriculture than Donald Trump. American agriculture is very much an international business venture and new emerging markets are where much of the growth has and will come from. Whoever is in the White House will need to lead the way in stabilizing world markets and negotiating trade agreements that open new markets for American businesses. Hillary Clinton is more prepared for this part of the job than any presidential candidate in my lifetime - and Donald Trump is the least prepared of any candidate in history.”


“I think on a business level, the business of agriculture, Donald Trump would be better, because he has a better handle on the business end than Hillary Clinton. I think Trump would be a winner for the American farmer. He knows more about the business end of things than Clinton ever will.”


“In my opinion, Hillary Clinton represents the best advocate for U.S. agriculture. Donald Trump’s proposed ‘wall’ would be a detriment to U.S. agriculture.” WWW.VITALBYPOET.COM



The History of POET –

A NEW NAME FOR A NEW ERA Unifying all the Broin companies and teams under one brand sets the stage for the future. by Peter Harriman and Alyssa Broin

This is the sixth part of a series on the History of POET. Installments 1-5 can be read in the previous issues. WWW.VITALBYPOET.COM


Broin Companies had already attained in 2007 what had seemed impossible two decades prior – they had grown from producing a mere 1 million gallons of ethanol per year, to a grand total of 1 billion gallons. By implementing great people and embracing the right kinds of change at the right time, the company continually widened the competitive gap in the biorefining industry. At the same time, the oil industry started to take the ethanol industry more seriously and view ethanol as a threat to their own industry. Through many changes over the years, Broin Companies paved the way as leaders in biorefining. While the Broin name served well during the first 20 years, it was now time for a new name. The time had come to retire the name from service and enter into a new era. The time had come for a fresh identity to unify all the companies and teams under one united brand.

ANTICIPATING CHANGE In March 2007, team members in Sioux Falls had been buzzing for weeks with rumors of a big change, with no idea as to what the change may be. Founder and CEO Jeff Broin invited employees and their spouses to an evening at the Washington Pavilion for what was soon to be one of the greatest announcements to date.


Antje Skiff, a Broin mechanical engineer, remembers “being pretty excited going into it. There was a lot of speculation going on at the time, a lot of anticipation.” On the evening of March 29, 2007, from behind an illuminated green podium, Broin took the stage and talked about the company’s ability to successfully adapt and accept change. “We chose to lead. We chose to embrace the right changes at the right times,” said Broin. “Through these changes, we must lead. And we will lead – and to do so, we must welcome change. Tonight, we’re making a big change. Friends, tonight, we are changing our name.” Changing the name of a 20year old company certainly wasn’t an easy task, and one Broin took seriously. “We’ve been working on this change for about a year, and it’s been difficult, because when we decided to unify our brands and change our name, we knew we couldn’t have just any name,” said Broin. He went on to list examples of other companies who chose a name entirely unrelated to their industry that are now great leaders. He named companies such as Apple and Yahoo, and the memorable pace that was set when they elected to identify themselves in an entirely different way than expected. Broin explained that the companies needed to be unified because of the challenges that

were ahead and the company’s unique ability to meet those challenges. “We need to move into new technologies, like cellulosic ethanol. And who’s there blazing the path? We are.” He continued, “I’d like to remind you of a great challenge laid out to our nation only a few decades ago. A challenge that, at the time, seemed impossible.” A large video screen overhead then projected black and white film of President John Kennedy in 1962. He declared, “We choose to go to the moon in this decade… not because [it is] easy, but because [it is] hard. Because that challenge is one we’re willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone…and one we intend to win.” The next clip was of a rocket blazing for takeoff. “T-minus 15 seconds…12, 11, 10…ignition sequence start…3, 2, 1, 0… Liftoff! Liftoff on Apollo 11!” Then the screen changed to the first moon landing on July 20, 1969 and a man’s voice, “It’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” The spotlight shifted back to the podium and Jeff stated, “I’d like to introduce you to someone who knows about challenge. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome,” he paused, “Mr. Neil Armstrong.” An audible gasp rippled

through the crowd as a silverhaired man made his way onstage to take Jeff’s place behind the green glow – Neil Armstrong himself. At the sight of him, everyone jumped to their feet in an immediate standing ovation. Armstrong spoke of his paralleled history of fuel evolution for a much different means of transportation – rockets. This knowledge grew as he did from model airplanes powered by alcohol as a teenager, to full-sized planes as a pilot, to the eventual invention and operation of liquid rockets. The 20th century was filled with unimaginable scientific and technical progress, highlighted with breakthroughs such as the splitting of the atom, the development of the computer and the exploration of space. “And the remarkable thing about all these developments is that they were not predicted,” Armstrong stated. “Good ideas are the result of human curiosity and a creative mind, and endless trial and error. A very well respected and pragmatic President Calvin Coolidge once said, ‘Nothing in the world can

take the place of persistence. Talent will not. Genius will not. Perseverance and determination are omnipotent.’” Armstrong recounted the extraordinary history of the Space Race era between the 1950s and 1960s. After experiencing

success with initial launches, both Soviets and Americans became obsessed with getting a man into space, but flying to the moon required enormous advancements in flight science in a very short amount of time. “The entire Apollo team was inspired. They were motivated to succeed. The moon was the challenge of history, and now

we all face another challenge,” Armstrong said. He referenced Broin’s opening remarks about the energy crisis surrounding the United States, with particular emphasis on the deemed sevenfold increase in the nation’s production of ethanol. This included the need to unlock power of cellulosic ethanol, to achieve commercial production and pioneer the next generation of renewable fuels. “This is the spice that makes life worth living. Conquering adversity is mandatory for success. There is little satisfaction in completing easy goals…Accept those problems. Accept those opportunities,” Armstrong continued. He empowered the crowd by stating like Apollo, they had a national goal. Like Apollo, they had a very tough challenge. Like Apollo, they had skills and determination. “But, do you have the PERSEVERANCE?” Armstrong gripped each side of the podium and leaned in as he emphasized each word. “CAN YOU DO IT?” The audience responded with a vibrant round of applause. “Alright! Go to

it then!” Armstrong concluded, which earned him another standing ovation as he thanked everyone and exited the stage. “If you want to get a bunch of scientists and engineers on board with anything, that’s the perfect way to do it,” Skiff says of Armstrong’s presence. “It was a special moment. It filled you with pride and hope for the future.” In the midst of the charged atmosphere, Broin returned to introduce what everyone had been eagerly waiting for. “I think now is the perfect time to tell you what our new name is. It’s a name that represents who we are, one that honors the creativity and wonder you deliver to the world every day. My friends, we are now POET.” This was followed by the third and final standing ovation of the night.

that we’re strongest when we leave our egos at the door,” Broin stated during his speech. “That being said, I think it’s the perfect time for me to take my name off the door.” A vertically integrated model throughout multiple entities – spanning design and construction, management, production, marketing and research – differentiated the Broin companies from day one. They had their hands in the entire process and managed it every step of the way. They were, and remain to be, the only company of their kind in the industry. The unification of all the businesses would give the company as a


whole world-class technology, market leverage, advanced competitive advantage and stronger brand and political recognition on a national and global scale. Thus began the process of discovering the perfect name. Breukelman Kubista Group (BKG), a Sioux Falls marketing firm that worked with rebranding a number of companies, was tasked with the responsibility of determining that new name. Greg Breukelman, a BKG partner at the time, carried an interesting perspective on the process, since at the time, Breukelman was unaware he would later become part of the Broin team. Initially, BKG came highly recommended to Broin through Jeff Lautt, now

The time for a distinction began the previous year when Broin acquired the interests of his family in the businesses they had built over the previous two decades. Within a few months, the decision was made to bring all the companies under one unified name, one that was no longer driven by the Broin name, one that would add tremendous value moving forward. The company had always put the focus on their people, a team of highly trained and highly motivated professionals poised to change the world. “One of the strengths of our culture is the steadfast belief


POET President and COO, who worked with the firm back when he was president of a fire truck production company that was transformed through their efforts. “The first meeting felt like a complete failure,” Breukelman remembers. “When we left, we thought they didn’t like any of the names we showed them.” Surprisingly enough, POET was the least favorite name suggestion and not selected. What many don’t know is that when POET was originally presented, the name was accompanied by the same logo that remains unchanged to this day. As the months went on and the process continued, POET was the name that continually stuck in everyone’s minds. As those involved pitched various name ideas to team members, friends and family, they realized POET stood out, and the more they talked about it, the more comfortable they became. Intuitively, it would seem the proper way to name a company is to describe what the company does. A better approach, according to Breukelman, is to find a name that evokes the sense of emotion a company wants to convey. “The more I worked with this organization, the more I felt a strong passion, belief and higher purpose for what they were doing,” recalls Breukelman. “Even though there was a lot of science involved, it seemed like there was an art to it.” So why POET? How does it relate to ethanol? Breukelman and his team

explained that the name itself was evocative and short. It stirred emotion in people and caused them to think deeper into the meaning. At the 11th hour during the final stages of the selection process, Broin recalls the name standing out as the boldest choice and the most abstract, while still maintaining the most relevance. And just as a poet takes simple, everyday words and gives them a new meaning, POET takes goods and natural resources and makes them valuable by using the creativity that comes from common sense to leave the Earth better than it was found. “Really good marketing makes people feel a little uncomfortable at first,” states Breukelman. “Although it took a lot of time, money and effort through the discovery process, it took more guts to pick the name than to come up with it.” With the right name selection, he predicted within six months, people wouldn’t remember it was ever anything else.

MAKING POET A REALITY Once the name was chosen and agreed upon, the team moved ahead to plan the name change event. It was about this time in early 2007 when Breukelman sold his portion of BKG to join the business he had gotten to know so well, which meant he would be part of seeing the entire transition through. Even in initial planning stages, it became clear it was important to end the old and embrace the new identity, and to make the change

a definitive one felt throughout the company. “One thing about Jeff, when he decides on something, that’s his decision and there’s no looking back,” says Breukelman. This led to the question of the best way to leave the strongest impact and truly make it a night to remember, while also keeping everything about the launch a complete secret. When selecting a keynote speaker, they tried to find a true American icon – a hero. Neil Armstrong was the perfect man for the job. He rarely took speaking engagements, but recognized the correlation between what the company wanted to do and what he had done, so he accepted the task. Breukelman and Broin also put together a presentation to convince all 26 plant boards to convert their names to POET at the annual Board Summit. With a sense of pride and wonder still in his voice, Broin recalls how 23 of the 26 boards agreed in writing to the new name at that meeting. The other three accepted within the next couple weeks. “I really applaud the plant boards’ vision and foresight of where we were headed as an industry,” Breukelman

recalls with a similar sense of awe. Additional division names were created, including POET Ethanol Products, POET Nutrition, POET Design & Construction, among others. Kelly Kjelden has been General Manager of the James Valley ethanol plant in Groton, SD since its opening in 2003. Like the directors and employees at all Broin locations, the team members at James Valley were invested in a name that was personal to them, according to Kjelden. Following the evening at the Washington

Advertisement used to announce the name change. WWW.VITALBYPOET.COM


Pavilion, all the plants became POET Biorefining, plus the name of the location they represent. Within weeks, Broin and Breukelman traveled to all 26 ethanol plants to introduce the new name, greet team members and answer their questions. “You don’t see the CEO of a company this size talking oneon-one with team members,” says Kjelden. “It really helped the person making ethanol in the control room with the ‘why’ behind it and understand where it was going to take us.” Broin emphasized the name would grow on them, and Kjelden remembers coming away from the gathering with a renewed sense of passion. “It really made people realize we were working for the right company, a company that would look under every rock for improved technology.”

IT’S OFFICIAL As Broin announced the new name POET, the curtains behind him lifted to reveal an entire stage filled with tables piled

high with food and drinks. In the center of each table was a colored Styrofoam POET leaf. Two-story high banners with the name POET hung from the ceiling, and there was even an ice sculpture carved to spell out the new name. Everyone in the audience was invited to join in the celebration and a celebration it was! Armstrong even stuck around for a couple hours afterward, which was not typical of him. According to Broin, when he asked Armstrong why he stayed, his response was, “Your people are genuine. They truly cared about what I had to say and listened to my responses when they asked questions.” Put simply, the newly named POET team members inspired Armstrong. As everyone left that evening, they received a duffle bag full of POET-branded items. When team members arrived at work the next morning, the logo behind the front desk had already been changed. In addition, all the old business cards on every single desk were replaced with POET

cards, the mouse pads were all traded out for new POET ones and the screen savers switched to a newly branded POET background. Within a couple days, the signs at all locations were replaced, along with newly-branded billboards all over town and a big announcement in the newspaper. It was literally an overnight change, all orchestrated by Breukelman and his team.

POET TODAY Since it was introduced, POET has become more than a name. “It works. It’s who we are, and when you tell somebody who you work for, they automatically know who that is – especially in agriculture,” Kjelden reflects. It is a name that has served the company extremely well over the past decade, and it will only continue to do so. With all 30 companies in the organization joining together to form a common identity, POET has become a force in the marketplace and a brand to reckon with. “Always keep in mind where we’ve been,” says Broin. “It is important to remember the thought, time and process that went into a name that, today, is commonplace – something we don’t think about. Without POET, there’s no way we would be where we are today.”

Broin family with Neil Armstrong


HERE’S to the

NEW YOU POET promotes workforce development. by Janna Farley




photo by Greg Latza

Laura McAreavey has never been much of a risk-taker. As POET’s Treasury Manager, McAreavey is responsible for creating and implementing a formal treasury function while managing relationships to increase return on POET’s cash reserves. Risk taking isn’t really in McAreavey’s job description. Her conservative, conscientious approach to work has served her well over the 15 years she’s been with POET. It never occurred to her that taking a few chances every now and then could help her professionally. Today, McAreavey sees things a little differently. “I have the confidence and the clarity now to know I can take a few risks. What’s the next thing I can tackle?”


IGNITING THE SPARK OF LEADERSHIP POET believes continual workforce development is an important characteristic of a successful company. Spark was introduced to support this belief. It’s a very different approach to traditional workforce development or career development, says Blake Wysong, POET’s Senior Vice President of CARE (POET’s Human Resources department). That is, it’s not intended to train people how to do the nitty gritty details of their particular job better. It’s more about growth as a person. Laura Vostad, POET’s Director of Learning and Development, adds “Spark is focused on six characteristics POET has

identified as being critical to effective leadership and that align with our value statements: conviction, courage, empathy, integrity, resourcefulness and servant-heart.” “Spark is a way of thinking,” Wysong says. “It’s not something you go and do. Spark is about investing in yourself, taking your own initiative, engaging with others around you and learning about yourself. It’s about finding a network of people that will hold up a mirror so you can see yourself as others see you.”

EVERYONE IS A LEADER Leaders, after all, aren’t defined by their position in a company. Just because someone is in a position where people report to them,

doesn’t necessarily make them a leader. “It’s not about titles or responsibilities,” says POET President and COO Jeff Lautt. Leaders are not born. They’re made. And they are found everywhere – both inside and outside of the boardroom. “Management does not equal leadership. It’s not something that can be awarded or appointed. It can only be earned,” Wysong says. “At end of the day, it’s a choice of how each of us lives our lives.” Stronger leaders create a better work environment and help drive POET forward, Lautt says. “I think it creates an atmosphere that allows people to grow and develop,” he says. “An organization full of leaders becomes a building block – one block right on top of another. That makes us stronger. That, in turn, allows us to make better decisions and move projects through quicker, which helps us achieve our strategic vision and allows us to achieve our goals and objectives year in and year out.” Spark extends beyond POET’s walls, too.

“If you’re not in a good place in your family, your community, your church, your bowling league – whatever you do when you’re away from here – it would be really difficult to come to work and be someone

different,” Wysong says. “That’s why we invest in the whole person. We want you to be a leader in life.”

LEARNING LEADERSHIP IS PERSONAL Self-initiative is key when it comes to learning to be a

stronger leader. “Learning opportunities can be thrown at you, but you have to be willing to learn about yourself, to push yourself,” Vostad says. “POET can provide training, resources, opportunities and support, but the individual has to want to learn and grow and have the motivation to pick the ball up and run.” For McAreavey, that meant joining To a s t m a s t e r s . “I hate public s p e a k i n g , so I joined To a s t m a s t e r s to challenge myself,” she says. “Now, I’ve gotten up to do presentations, and I have the confidence and the skillset to do it.” And learning to be a leader isn’t about attending some two-day leadership seminar, McAreavey continues. “You might leave feeling inspired, but when you get back to your desk, there’s a growing pile of work and about 400 unread emails.” Work, of course, takes precedence. What was learned in the classroom quickly gets forgotten. With Spark, learning to be a leader is more self-directed and about experiences. “This is a way



of life. We want to see people grow and flourish and become true leaders in all aspects of their lives,” says Lautt. That’s not to say POET has eschewed all formal education programs. Formal learning is still an important part of the equation, Vostad says. “We learn through experience, relationships and formal training programs. The challenge is to use each of these aspects of learning in the right measure. If you are working to acquire new knowledge and skills, formal learning is key, whereas if you want to impact behaviors or emotional intelligence, it’s probably more important to also leverage experiences and ensure continuous feedback through relationship building. The recipe is different for each


person and based on their personal aspirations.” There are several ways people are learning and growing at POET every day. In some cases, teams of people are working through John Maxwell’s Five Levels of Leadership, DiSC or Situational Leadership. Others are working through specialized personal development experiences, like McAreavey. “Having been a part of a focused development experience, I am definitely more confident in my ability to provide value, and I think I have a better understanding of the value I bring within the walls of POET,” she says. “I challenge myself in ways I never would have done before – both at work and at home. Risks are a challenge and an opportunity – not something

to be afraid of.” “People are getting more comfortable taking control of their development and initiating it,” Vostad says. “POET is committed to helping team members be better leaders in life. It is up to each individual to explore what that means for them, chart their path and have the courage and conviction to start their never-ending journey.”


For years, we’ve been told that cellulosic ethanol is a “fantasy fuel.” And it is.

And now it’s going to change the world. For real.

So we’ve spent a decade planning, researching, and working hard to make that fantasy a reality.



Advanced Biofuels

TODAY’S CONSCIENTIOUS FARMER A good steward of the land, efficient energy consumer and high-yield producer. by Steve Lange




For U.S. farmers, the recent four-year stretch of corn harvests has produced 57 billion bushels of corn, the highest four-year total in the nation’s history. And, maybe not surprisingly, these past four years have also produced what is arguably the greatest stretch of agricultural advancements when it comes to ag sustainability and environmental efforts.  With per-acre corn yields at all-time highs (the forecast for 2016 is 175 bushels per acre), farmers have found themselves  focusing even more on land-first practices that help offset some of the concerns  that come with unprecedented production. Here’s what they’ve discovered: New technology has made doing the right thing for the environment, often, the best thing for  their bottom line. From precision ag practices to cover crops to crop rotation to low-temp corn drying, more farmers are finding that reducing their energy and environmental footprint also reduces costs. “In the last four or five years, the technology has exploded for agriculture,” says Darrin Ihnen, the Past President of the National Corn Growers Association and current Board Chair at POET Biorefining – Chancellor. “Farmers have always tried to figure out better ways to be environmentally friendly, to leave the land better than we inherited it. And the last few years have made it even easier to do things


that are better for the bottom line and better for the environment.” Steve Lewis, Vice President of Innovation at POET Research, agrees. “Higher yields over the last few years have highlighted the importance of maintaining the land,” says Lewis. “Farmers realize their future depends on their ability to be good stewards of the earth. They’ve always known this, and now the technology is catching up with them.”

Drones, for instance, have literally changed the way farmers look at their fields. Drone use is at an all-time high and is expected to boom in the next ten years – agricultural drones are projected to account for 80 percent of the commercial market within the next decade, according to a report by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems. Drones are just one piece in the precision agriculture package, which includes everything from optimum seed spacing during planting to GPS-guided irrigation to GPS-guided application

of fertilizer and herbicide, all of which saves money while reducing environmental impact. “We are looking at new technologies all the time, and implementing them,” says Gary Pestorious, co-owner of Frontier Family Farms, a farm partnership in Albert Lea, MN. widely recognized for its use of technology to increase production and sustainability. “We’ve found from experience that doing the right thing for the environment is often the best thing for your  business as well. That’s why we’ve seen precision ag go from just a few farmers to basically everyone tapping into the technology in some way.” Gary’s son Cole, a sixth-generation farmer, has embraced the technical advancements. “As for precision ag, there isn’t much available that we aren’t using,” says Cole, a coowner of Frontier Family Farms. “We’re using drones, imagery from UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles), variable-rate nitrogen, nitrate testers, yield monitors, all kinds of data. These are things we want to do from the conservation side, but the return on investment has made them things we need to do on the business side.” For Jeremy Martin, Senior Scientist for the Union of Concerned Scientists, these last few years have brought a lot of changes when it comes to ag sustainability efforts. But one thing that is not changing anytime soon, he says, is ethanol’s expanding role in our country’s

fuel system. “Something people miss about ethanol is that it’s the biggest change to come into our fuel system in 50 to 60 years,” says Martin. “It will remain an important part of our gasoline mix for decades to come. But there’s been some backlash regarding environmental concerns. So, the farmers understand what’s at stake, and they’ve taken action to reduce their greenhouse gas footprint.” That reduction has included a new look at some old farming practices, including cover crops, crop rotation and low-temp drying of corn. The planting of cover crops – a practice that dates back thousands of years by ancient Chinese, Indian and Northern European farmers – has seen a recent resurgence as farmers look for better ways to hold nutrients in the soil. A current study – sponsored by  POET, in partnership with Monsanto, the USDA, Iowa State University, the National Soil Health Partnership, AgSolver and others – is in year two of testing crop cover, stover removal and tillage methods

on 220 acres in Iowa.  New research on crop rotation – another ancient method, dating back to Middle Eastern farmers in 6,000 B.C. – has reinforced its importance for both maximizing yields as well as conserving nutrients and combatting erosion. And more new looks at old practices are already proving profitable. The low-temperature drying of corn has started to gain ground, as some early-adopter farmers have realized the process saves energy costs and provides better quality corn for ethanol production (see sidebar).  As ethanol production has increased, so too have the public’s questions and concerns, many of which center around the misconceptions of a fuel source that took the brunt of the blame for those environmental issues, like erosion and fertilizer runoff, that were tied to increased corn production.  But the public needs to recognize that increased corn yields has also yielded better environmental efforts.  “It comes back to education,” says Ihnen. “There are so many people who aren’t familiar with

agriculture any more. They are generations removed from the land, and sometimes there’s a negative undertone because they don’t see or understand everything that we do. Of course farmers care about their land. It’s their livelihood. We just need to show people how hard we’re working to do the right thing.”

Low-temp corn drying, high rewards While many farmers recognize the environmental importance and bottom-line business benefits of things like precision ag practices, cover crops and crop rotation, one of the practices that has been overlooked is the low-temp drying of corn, a technique that is profitable for farmers, saves energy costs and can provide better quality corn for ethanol production.



Low-temp drying of corn may not work for everyone or for every operation, but we asked a few experts – researchers, farmers employing low-temp drying – to answer some of the basic questions from their first-hand, in-the-field or in-the-lab experience.  

WHY EMPLOY LOW-TEMP DRYING? “Low-temp drying and natural airflow for corn is definitely something farmers should consider. It’s going to have the lowest energy requirement of any of the options. Take last year for example, we had a lot of corn that was harvested with moisture content at 16 to 18 percent. A lot of that corn ended up being dried with natural air and low-temp drying, and that was a big saving for those farmers.”

Ken Hellevang, Extension Engineer and Professor for Ag & Biosystems Engineering at North Dakota State University

“Low-temp drying is a great way for farmers to protect that integrity of the kernel of corn and to protect their investment by not leaving it in the field, by getting the crop out of the field early, to maintain the yield that is there.”

Darrin Ihnen, Board Chair at POET Biorefining – Chancellor

ISN’T IT BETTER TO LET THE CORN DRY IN THE FIELD? “When corn dries in the field, for every percent it dries, from 25 to 18 percent, you lose 1 percent of your yield. That’s been proven in studies. If you have 25 percent moisture corn, at 200 bushels an acre, most every farmer will agree that when you come back when it’s 15 percent moisture you’ll have only 180 bushels of yield. You can let it dry in the field naturally, with a yield loss, but as a farmer you have your risk of header loss, ear loss and field loss. In the north, you run the risk of early season blizzard.”

Darrin Ihnen, Board Chair at POET Biorefining – Chancellor


IS IT A MONEY SAVER? “Not everybody is practicing low-temp corn drying, but they should be. There are lots of advantages. Farmers can use longer maturing, higher yielding varieties and they can harvest the corn wetter in the fall and dry it with low temps. They gain by ending up with higher test weight corn and by accessing markets requiring higher quality corn because the starch and protein quality increases. They can contract corn for delivery in September. They can increase their overall yield quite substantially. The total value to the farmer can be more than 50 cents a bushel. Drying at low temps improves the quality of the corn. For the farmers invested in ethanol, particularly in POET plants, it should improve the economic returns for them and the ethanol plant.”

Steve Lewis, Vice President of Innovation at POET Research

“It’s worth the investment. History shows us that two out of every 10 years you will have to dry every kernel of corn on your farm. If you’re using propane, that’s four times the cost of using electricity.”

Darrin Ihnen, Board Chair at POET Biorefining – Chancellor

“There are computer systems that make the process almost flawless. You set it, tell it what you want it to do, and 99 percent of the time it comes out exactly right. With this system we’re using 66 percent less electricity because we have a computer telling the fan when to turn on and turn off. ”

Cole Pestorious, co-owner of Frontier Family Farms in Albert Lea, Minn

HOW DO I START? “You have to have the right technology in the bin. There is technology in grain bins that can monitor what’s going on so you don’t have to worry about hot spots. You can use variable fans and add equipment that can measure moisture and temperature. You can even monitor it offsite from your phone.”

Darrin Ihnen, Chairman of the Board at POET Biorefining – Chancellor

“You need enough storage to hold your grain and make sure it stays in good condition all year. You need to have the dryer capacity to dry your crop. When I was young we ran the corn dryer at the maximum. People always used to run their dryer at 230 degrees. Now we don’t go over 200. If we’re only removing 3 to 5 percentage points of moisture we’ll go down to 160 degrees. We also have a system in our bin in which a computer controls the fan. We have enough air capacity to ensure that our grain moisture stays the same. If we start hauling out in January and are still hauling out in August, it’s always 15 percent moisture.”

Gary Pestorious, co-owner of Frontier Family Farms in Albert Lea, MN



LOVED and ACCEPTED Children’s Home Society provides the feeling of home for children who desperately need it. by Tammi Gilley




There is nothing greater than seeing the sparkle in a child’s eye when she “gets it.” Especially when that child has been through difficult, tragic and emotional circumstances. To see them light up with self-worth is magical! Because of POET, I am fortunate to witness this joy every week while tutoring at Children’s Home Society (CHS). Established in 1893, CHS is South Dakota’s oldest human services, nonprofit organization. Their mission is to protect, support and enhance the lives of children and families. The Children’s Home Society provides the essence of Home – refuge, nourishment, love and limits – to children whose homes have been violated. While it is comforting to know that these children have a safe


and loving place to turn, CHS could not do it alone. It takes many people, resources and talents to make CHS the success that it is. Staying involved in the local community has and continues to be a priority for POET, in addition to international missions supported by Seeds of Change. Back in 2003, Tammie and Jeff Broin recognized the good this organization does and the many needs it fills and chose to support these children annually. According to Rick Weber, Development Director of CHS, for almost 10 years now, POET has given the kids at CHS an opportunity to attend Wild Water West as well as numerous sponsorships through the Orion Classic Golf event, which has raised over $5 million in the 21

year history of the event. Part of the Orion Classic Golf event includes a dinner and auction the night before. This “Evening for the Kids” was how I discovered Children’s Home Society and knew I wanted to be a part of it. In 2013, my husband,

Kyle, had been with POET for about a year when we were invited to attend the dinner. I was so touched and moved that such an amazing organization existed that I called the very next day to see what I could do for them. Since I am a teacher by training, tutoring was the perfect fit. As a tutor at Children’s Home Society’s Loving School, I have observed firsthand the incredible ways that CHS helps the many children who cross their threshold each year. Every child at CHS is welcomed with open arms. There are therapists of every kind, a reading specialist, loving staff, teachers, social workers and many more people onsite to help these children not only “get through” whatever painful events have brought them here, but to thrive despite the hardships they have endured. Most of the children that CHS helps live on campus for some period of time. Here, they attend Loving School, play, ride bikes, meet new friends and learn social and life skills. Recently, Children’s Home Society updated its strategic plan. As part of this plan, they wanted to find a way to offer more spiritual support for the children. Graciously, local pastors do offer Sunday School every week, but CHS was searching for something that could cater to even more kids. Jim Stavenger, who aided in updating the strategic plans, volunteered to be in charge of this. He knew he would have to start from the beginning raising funds for and building a program. And then POET stepped up again. Without knowing anything

about the strategic plan, Tammie and Jeff Broin donated 75 daily devotional books called Jesus Calling to Children’s Home Society. Volunteer Jim Stavenger had his program! Jim says, “We would have had to start something from scratch but feel blessed to have been given this path forward because of the donation.” Now, every Tuesday afternoon Jim meets with approximately 20 students (ages7-12) and staff members for about 35-40 minutes. When Jim arrives, the kids have their Jesus Calling book opened to the appropriate day. Jim leads the group in a discussion based on that day’s topic. He also allows time for an activity, as well as some reflection. Jim says that he often sees kids share their life experiences with the group, bringing comfort and support to one another. The children find hope in knowing they are not alone. The group is in their fourth month. They hope to bring this devotional time to the rest of the kids at Children’s Home so that all the children have the opportunity to continue to grow spiritually. Not only does every child at CHS have access to Jesus Calling, but they are available to others in need of encouragement as well. Sue Williams, Program Director at CHS, mentioned they are working alongside 78% of their families to rebuild strong and healthy homes. She shared a story about giving a Jesus Calling book to a mom who came in and really seemed to be struggling. Another young girl, recently placed in a foster home after a long stay at CHS, stated that the

Jesus Calling book taught her to keep the faith as she was waiting for a family to take her. The precious children at CHS are aching to be loved and accepted. Encouraging books like Jesus Calling and loving hopeful words from their caregivers at CHS are helping these children to grow emotionally, academically and spiritually. I find this especially important in these young lives whose spirits have been crushed by circumstances outside of their control. Children’s Home Society is a vital resource for some of our community’s most vulnerable kids, and POET’s involvement is helping to make an incredible difference in the lives of many families. I am thankful to POET for introducing me to the Children’s Home Society and for all it does to support such an incredible and much needed organization.



FARM FRESH by Brian Hefty

HOW DO BASEBALL LESSONS APPLY TO FARMING? I love agronomy. If you’ve read my articles in the past or seen me speak on TV or in person, you likely already know that I am usually on point… agronomy, agronomy, agronomy. Perhaps my favorite Bible verse is from Colossians 3:23. It says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as if working for the Lord, not for men.” Six years ago, I became the head coach of my son’s baseball team, just to help out. We went about things that year the way things had always been done, and I came to two conclusions. One, we stunk, and two, just like the Bible verse above


says, if I’m going to be involved in something, I should give it everything I’ve got. For the past five seasons, the baseball team I’ve coached from our little town of 1000 people has done really well, including winning a state championship this year. Right after we won I told the boys I was done coaching, but I wanted them to apply the same lessons we had talked about for the past few years in everything they do. I said achieving success in school, work, family life, or anything else is the same as in baseball. Here are a few of my key points.

1) You’ve got to put the hours in. Our baseball team practiced seven or eight months each year. Most other teams practiced three or four months. My dad always told us we would never be successful at anything if we only worked 40 hours per week. I have studied some of the best farmers in the country. In many cases, yes, they may be smarter than the rest of us, but in almost all cases, they are simply outworking us.

2) Study during your “off time.” When the boys were young, they hardly knew the game of baseball. I told them to play baseball video games and go watch baseball games. We also trained them in umpiring and all the rules of baseball, but all these things were in addition to normal practice time. In farming, there’s so much great stuff to read or educational seminars to attend or for that matter, go visit great farmers around the country. The more you study, the more successful you’ll be.

3) Don’t be afraid to innovate. With baseball, we did some unconventional things and tried new techniques that later, many others adopted. On the farm, you’ve got to take a percentage of your acres each year to experiment. If you think there is a better way to do things, there often is, but you’ve got to prove it on a small scale first.

4) Be thankful every day. Before every baseball game we had a team prayer, which always started with “thank you.” On the farm, commodity prices, cash rents, interest rates and input costs may not be where you would like them to be, but we still have to be thankful every day that we get to live and farm in the greatest country in the world. Here is the last thing I hope I impressed upon the boys. Like you have often heard before:

5) You can’t be great at everything. However, there’s no reason you can’t be great at a few things if you really devote your time and your heart to them. Time flies by quick. I was a head baseball coach for just six years, and that time is now done. Hopefully I did a good job, because I gave a lot of time and effort toward that outside of everything else I had going on. Regardless of who you are, what your home life is and whatever natural ability you have, if you really apply yourself you absolutely can be a great student today. You can be great at the job you choose eventually. Many years from now, you can be a great husband and father, and someday, maybe you will have the opportunity to coach a baseball team. Be great!




SEEING THE VALUE IN ethanol POET Biorefining – Alexandria conducted a plant tour for Republican candidate for US Congress, 9th District in Indiana, Trey Hollingsworth. He was not only very knowledgeable about manufacturing in general, he also did his homework on ethanol. He pledged his support should he get elected, saying “You don’t have to convince me of the benefits of ethanol. I’m a supporter.” The 9th district does NOT have any ethanol plants, nor much farming, but Hollingsworth understood the economic impact ethanol brings to his district.

Nationally known author Dan Buettner paid a visit to POET Biorefining – Hanlontown this summer. Buettner’s book titled “The Blue Zones, 9 Lessons for Living Longer” has prompted the development of well-being initiative projects at businesses and communities across the nation. POET Biorefining – Hanlontown was designated as a Blue Zones Worksite in February 2014. Mr. Buettner wanted to visit POET to see how the worksite encourages healthy living. The POET plant is proud to be a tobacco free facility. All employees have access to fresh fruit that is provided by the company daily. All employees enjoy fresh vegetables from the employee garden that is planted every summer. Healthy snacks and beverages have replaced soft drinks and candy bars in the vending machines.


Living Longer



DAKOTA GOLD THAT IS... Ted Ulmer, Commodity Manager from POET Biorefining – Gowrie, captured this photo of a full rainbow over the POET Biorefining – Gowrie plant after a rainstorm in August. WWW.VITALBYPOET.COM




cotton candy

& CONSTRUCTION POET Biorefining – Cloverdale volunteered to help with a Habitat for Humanity build at the Indiana State Fair.



The POET-sponsored and ethanolpowered Vanguard Squadron made an appearance at the Carroll, IA airshow in September.

10 YEARS IN THE blink OF AN EYE POET Biorefining – Laddonia is 10 years old. It is amazing how quickly time goes by. To celebrate the occasion, the plant held a customer appreciation in August which included dinner and a comedian.

© 2015 CenterPoint Energy 144978 800-495-9880

NASCAR UPDATE submitted by Ryan Welsh, Director of Sales and Marketing for American Ethanol

Richard Childress, NASCAR Hall of Fame’s Class of 2017



Richard Childress is one of the most respected names in the sport of NASCAR. His childhood dream of racing began while selling peanuts and popcorn at Bowman Gray Stadium. He bought his first race car for $20 and, working out of his home garage, has gone on to build what is widely considered one of the most legendary organizations in motorsports history. In 1969, there were 124 NASCAR team owners, only three of which remain today (Wood Brothers, Richard Petty and Richard Childress). With his humble beginnings, Richard will be the first to let you know that he has lived a life packed full of blessings. One of those blessings came in 1974 at the Charlotte 500. Richard and three other drivers wrecked along the front straightaway on the second lap of the race, completely blocking the


track. The #42 purple and lime green Dodge piloted by none other than country music singer Marty Robbins came bearing down on the wreck around the corner at over 160 mph. “I looked down the track and saw Marty coming right at me,” Richard recalled. “I knew if he hit me in the driver’s side I’d either be mangled badly or killed. There was no way of me escaping injury and no way out of his path. Then I saw something I am still not sure I can believe. Marty turned the wheel of the car right and it veered into the concrete wall.” The noble act was successful in avoiding the accident. It also earned Marty a trip to Charlotte Memorial Hospital where he suffered from two broken ribs, a broken tailbone and received 32 stitches for a gash between his eyes. Richard was also quoted after the race saying, “There is no doubt in my

mind I wouldn’t be here talking to you right now if Marty Robbins hadn’t risked his life to save me.” Richard is no stranger to selfless acts and that wreck in Charlotte may or may not have a lot to do with that. His charitable work is almost as moving as his work in the sport of NASCAR. He would argue the former. In 2008, Richard and his wife Judy created The Childress Institute for Pediatric Trauma. The Childress Institute is centered on financing research and medical education throughout the U.S. to enhance treatment, as well as raising public consciousness about the magnitude of pediatric injury. Richard has had a long-standing commitment to the National Rifle Association, serving on its Board of Directors and most recently becoming Vice President. He is a devoted board member to Growth Energy, the leading voice of the ethanol industry. His beginnings, hard work and dedication mirror that of many of the pioneers in our trade. He works tirelessly on our industry’s behalf – whether testifying before a congressional committee, speaking to the media or proving the superiority of our fuel week in and week out in the fierce competition of NASCAR at the track. Deservingly Childress has been inducted into NASCAR’s Hall of Fame’s Class of 2017. He has accumulated more than 100 victories in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and more than 200 wins in NASCAR’s top three touring series as owner of Richard Childress Racing (RCR). With driver Dale Earnhardt and the legendary No. 3 car, Childress won Sprint Cup championships in 1986, 1987, 1990, 1991, 1993 and 1994. He has also recorded multiple driver and owner championships in the NASCAR XFINITY Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Childress is also a two-time winner of the Daytona 500 (1998 and 2007). Richard would tell you it is not about the number of championships you win but it is about being a straight shooter. We want to send our congratulations and thanks to Richard for not only making the Hall of Fame in NASCAR but to serving our cause –giving people a choice at the gas pump. We should feel great comfort in the fact that Richard is on our team and he knows how to win and how to win the right way.

Childress with grandson Austin Dillon and Dillon’s fiancé Whitney Ward

Childress and RCR driver Paul Menard on top at the Brickyard

Childress and his CRC Chemicals-sponsored Oldsmobile at Daytona 1980




LEAVING A legacy

Larry Ward retires after nearly 20 years at POET. by Janna Farley | photos by Greg Latza


Larry Ward knows how to work a room. He’s got a knack for connecting with people. Getting to know them. Making them feel comfortable. It doesn’t matter if you’re a government official in a suit or a farmer wearing dirty jeans. Ward’s got a smile – and a story – to share. Relationships have been the key to Ward’s work at POET for nearly 20 years as he helped establish biorefineries, among his many other duties, across the POET footprint. But when Ward, the Senior Vice President of Project Development, retires in November, his legacy at POET won’t be marked only by the plants he helped build. It’ll be the people – and the communities – he’s leaving behind. Ward began his career with POET in 1997 as the General Manager for POET Biorefining – Bingham Lake, MN. Though he had a background in agribusiness, Ward will be the first to admit he didn’t have any idea of what making ethanol entailed. “I grew up in the Twin Cities,” he says. “I didn’t grow up on a farm.” To be fair, however, in 1997, the ethanol industry was still pretty new. “Very few people knew what ethanol was back then,” he says. What Ward brought to POET was the ability to connect

with people and to sell POET Chairman and CEO Jeff Broin’s vision – to develop a new, local market for corn. He learned the nitty-gritty details about ethanol production on the job. “I loved learning how to operate the whole facility there. It’s a very high-tech process,” he says. “It was very impressive then and it

still is now.” What’s perhaps more impressive, Ward says, is how an ethanol plant transforms a community. POET’s biorefineries help drive corn demand – an economic benefit for local farmers, Ward says. But more than that, the plants also bring new jobs to the area. “Then all of a sudden you had good jobs that would support families in these small towns,” he says. “We had people moving back to the area to take jobs in the lab or as accountants or managers. This is what really

builds communities.” Over the years, Ward played a key role in establishing dozens of ethanol plants, recreating the success of the Bingham Lake facility in other POET communities by working with the local management teams. “When you go through and open a new biorefinery in a new area, people are excited, and it’s so much fun to get to personally know all the team members,” he says. “It’s been fun to see it evolve. The plants have really become successful businesses within the bigger POET network.” That’s due in large part to Ward, says Fred Thurman, a partner in the accounting firm of Thurman, Comes, Foley and Company LLP and POET board member. “Larry had a good rapport with the investors,” he says. “He led the meetings and presentations and was a significant reason we were able to raise the funds needed to build the plants.” Since he started, Ward’s role at POET changed and expanded to include work on finance and legal organization issues and some political activities as well as communications and project development. As Senior Vice President of Project Development, his current position, Ward helps guide the project development process. He and his team have to consider a complex array of criteria, including corn availability, road



access, rail infrastructure, natural gas infrastructure and the quality and quantity of local water. It can be a daunting task, but Ward’s never been one to back down from a challenge. “You can give Larry any project of any size and he will get it done,” Broin says. “He’s determined and tenacious, and he takes on his work every day with a smile – all while keeping everyone else smiling. He just has a great attitude toward work and life.” Ward has a reputation for thorough preparation and he’s known for his uncanny attention to detail. “No matter what projects you give him, he smiles and gets the job done,” Broin says. “He definitely is a team player, he always checks his ego at the door and he is a fantastic communicator – all three of which really help Larry to be very successful at POET and very wellliked and respected at POET.”


He always arrives at board meetings armed with financial data and spreadsheets. He’s demonstrated his ability to take both a micro and macro view of business issues – but more importantly, can effectively convey those views to others. That’s what always impressed Paul Shubeck, a Beresford, SDarea grain and livestock farmer and board member of POET Biorefining – Hudson and POET Biorefining – Chancellor. “Nothing rattles him,” Shubeck says. “He’s steady, secure – there’s no funny business with Larry. Every time you go to a board meeting, you know what you’re going to get. You know where he’s going to stand. People trust him.” “He’s a fantastic communicator. It may be one of his strongest suits,” Broin says. That’s critical in project development, where success can hinge upon relationships with government officials and the support of the community. “He’s just really good at dealing with people.” Most recently, Ward spearheaded the merger of seven plants into one company, a highly complex project that required a lot of work from people in many different areas of the company. Ward was able to bring these people together with ease, Broin says. On top of that, Ward was responsible for making sure the investors understood the project. When it came time to vote on the merger, 97 percent of the investors agreed. “I can’t think of anything that 97 percent

of the people in the United States would agree on,” Broin says. “The results speak for themselves.” That kind of success excites Ward, but what he really enjoys is getting to know the people of POET. “You meet an awful lot of people when you’re developing businesses like the biorefineries,” he says. “I’ve been fortunate to get to go out in our new communities to visit with leaders and farmers. It’s been fun to get to know and work with the people in all those areas.” Working with people who share the same passion for what we’re doing makes it fun to come to work every day, Ward says. “I see people pursuing excelling across the company. People are living the vision, living the mission of the company every day,” he says. “That just energizes others to do the same. There are always challenges, but when you’re working with people with common attitudes, it’s rewarding.” Life at POET hasn’t been all work and no play, though. In 2013, Ward and his wife were among the dozens of POET team members who travelled to Africa on a mission trip. The group helped build a greenhouse for the Travellers’ Oasis Centre, an all-girls boarding school in the town of Sultan Hamud in Kenya. The greenhouse was intended to help the community grow crops for food. “The country is completely impoverished in that area,” Ward says. “It’s a lot different than what we see in our

lives.” Between the hours on the worksite, the hugs given and the tears shared, the group quickly formed a connection with the people in Kenya. POET has since adopted the school, and team members have gone back several times to continue its

work there, building a dorm and working on other construction projects in that complex. “It was life-changing. It’s very much an experience that sticks with you,” Ward says. “I’m thrilled that people in the company have a chance to go there, to continue to develop and invest in the lives

of the underprivileged children there.” It’s an experience that inspired Ward to work even harder at home, too. POET’s focus on reducing the reliance of the United States on foreign energy, revitalizing global agriculture, and providing a cleaner, affordable alternative to fossil fuels is exciting and inspiring. “There are daily challenges, to be sure,” he says. “But what POET is doing is important work, contributing positively to the economy and the environment. A lot of great things come out of what this company and its biorefineries have done.” As Ward prepares for retirement in November, he knows it’ll be hard to watch POET’s work from the sidelines. But he’s also excited for this new chapter in his life. Ward plans on spending a lot of time with his family – he will soon have 10 young grandchildren – and travelling. He loves spending time hiking, biking and snowmobiling in the Black Hills. “And then I’ll see what else comes up or seems to make sense.” No matter what happens, he’ll always look back at his career with POET with a smile on his face. “I never would have guessed how POET would grow and emerge as a leader in the ethanol industry,” Ward says. “It’s fun to see how the industry has grown. To play a role in that, to be a small part of that, is incredible.”




ACROSS 1. Gyro meat 5. Frosts, as a cake 9. Duke, e.g. 14. Fragrance 15. “I Put a Spell on You”

singer Simone

16. Theater employee 17. Focal point 18. Small fry 19. Overact 20. POET team members built them

to assist a girl’s school in Kenya

23. Mike holder 24. Checked out 25. Masterpiece 28. Make well 30. Antonio Banderas, e.g. 32. Bird-to-be 35. Poetic foot 38. Football field divisions 39. Project Liberty’s feedstock 43. Run ___ of 44. Avoid


31. Goes with chi

45. Good looker? 46. GPS system

1. Yearn

33. Succeed

48. Ivan the Terrible, e.g.

2. Be crazy about

34. Caves

51. Time segments (abbr.)

3. Broadband connection

36. Dashboard abbr.

52. “The Green ____” (Hanks film)

4. Like some births

37. Like some champagne

55. Become accustomed (to)

5. Aloft

40. Catholic sister

58. Vital process producing fuels

6. “Bye”

41. Beach cookout, of a sort

7. Provide, as with some quality

42. Shaped like a sword

61. Après-ski drink

8. Flip

47. Caesar’s 7

65. Crime boss

9. When most elections are

49. “Wheel of Fortune” request

and power

66. Horse course

held in the U.S.

32. PayPal product

50. Drain, as waste

67. Puncture

10. Ending for capital and social

53. Place

68. Computer operator

11. Even if, briefly

54. Clear the slate

69. Fortune

12. Allow

56. Competitor

70. Die down

13. Before, in poetry

57. Related on one’s mother’s side

71. Appear to be

21. Original name before marriage

59. Fencing with a small sword

72. Bolt

22. Aquatic shocker

60. Delight

25. Tightens, as a belt

61. Tax preparer, for short

26. Finish

62. Sun, e.g.

27. Walk leisurely

63. Tom Clancy subj.

29. “Land of a million elephants”

64. Election month,for short




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OUT OF LEFT FIELD by Scott Johnson, Data Systems Administrator, POET

It’s time to winterize the camper. And by “winterize,” I mean park it next to my Christmas decorations. I’m really not sure what else I’m supposed to “winterize” on my camper. This is the first year I’ve had to be concerned of such things, after purchasing a brandnew 1984 Skamper 136C this past summer. If you’re not familiar with this particular “Skamper” model, it’s basically a tent on wheels. I could tow it with a Dodge Neon, if I was so lucky to own one. If you’re not familiar with 1984, it’s the year the Apple Macintosh computer went on sale and Taylor Swift’s parents started dating. We’ve always been a family that seeks out adventure together, but this year we stepped it up a notch and scheduled 5 camping trips – all before the assured luxury of the ’84 Skamper. We’ll call her “Skamantha.” We concluded Skamantha was a necessary upgrade after attempting a camping trip last summer in a tent. Like ordering a cheeseburger with peanut butter on it, I was prrrrretty sure tent camping was a bad idea, but curiosity convinced me to give it a try anyway. After all, I have fond memories of tent camping with my parents when I was younger. Oh sure there was an occasional 5 inch downpour. And the time we began to set up the tent in 98 degree heat only to learn we were missing one of the poles. (You can’t really have an “almost” tent. It’s all or nothing. Either you are in a tent, or you are the filling to a canvas quesadilla.) I also recalled when we biked to the bathrooms in the middle of the night, with Dad insisting, “Your eyes will adjust to the dark.” Right before I SMACKED into the side of a random camper. (What if it was Skamantha in her early years? Ooh, I just got chills!) Despite those less-than-perfect moments, camping provided invaluable family bonding time I’ll cherish forever. Thirty years later, I felt the time was right to pass on the “Johnson camping style” to my own children.


Unfortunately, I quickly realized my fond childhood memories may have been largely influenced by the fact that...I was the child. Apparently for adults, campin’ ain’t easy! Buyer’s remorse for the ’84 Skamper purchase was beginning to creep in. After a few days of unstructured camping life, my quality control began to suffer. How does one sanitize dishware without the convenience of an actual dishwasher? My family began to question the safety of reusing the same plate 8 meals in a row. “But dad, we saw a rabid squirrel eating off of those plates!” Me: “Good point, better rinse them off with this bucket of rainwater from last night.” Campgrounds should have a big warning sign at the entrance: No Wi-Fi. And spotty (at best) cell coverage. How am I supposed to express my appreciation for the peaceful solitude of nature if I can’t immediately post my feelings on social media? How long can emails go unread before they start to decay? The Game Fish and Parks department needs to stop worrying about poachers and start building cell towers. Everything takes longer when camping. I could have played 9 holes of golf in the time it took me to grill 5 hot dogs. I could have driven to the nearest golf course, played 9 holes, then purchased 5 hot dogs from the pro shop in the time it took me to grill 5 hot dogs. I think I invented new ways not to start a campfire. Maybe cold Pop Tarts for breakfast… As the frustration mounted, I began to ponder: Am I bad at camping? Is that even a thing? The only qualification for camping is to NOT be indoors. Thankfully, I slowly started to remember the greater point: eating bacon outdoors. But even beyond that, I realized my problems were not as catastrophic as I was imagining them to be. Amazingly, my family appeared to actually be enjoying themselves. We had nowhere else to go and nothing else to do, except to hang out together for a couple days. And everyone seemed fine with it. Dirty dishes. Dead cell phone battery. Late dinner. Each were quickly forgotten as we huddled around the campfire, conspiring tweaks to our next camping excursion. Although it wasn’t perfect, camping had provided that same timeless gift it did 30 years ago: bonding time with my family. Perhaps that $500 for Skamantha was a worthy splurge after all.




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Vital Magazine - Fall 2016  
Vital Magazine - Fall 2016