1.10.2009 | printed in the Winter 2009 issue of VITAL magazine
POET expands its network of plants
Three new ethanol plants in just two months may sound like a tall order. But the grand openings of POET Biorefining – North Manchester, Ind., held Sept. 11; POET Biorefining – Fostoria, Ohio, held Sept. 30; and POET Biorefining – Marion, Ohio, held Oct. 24, all went off without a hitch.
The North Manchester plant opening was attended by such figures as Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, Director of the Lugar Northeast Indiana Community Service Cathy Gallmeyer and President/CEO of the Economic Development Group of Wabash County Bill Konyha.
“With its third Indiana facility, POET is quickly becoming a household name in our small towns,” Daniels said at the opening. “This new North Manchester facility means more good jobs and an important market for our Hoosier farmers.” The facility employs 42 people, including General Manager Bryan Christjansen.
Less than three weeks later, Mike Wagner of the Buckeye Renewable Fuels Association, Robert Boggs of the Ohio Department of Agriculture, Rep. Bob Latta and IndyCar driver Ryan Hunter-Reay joined community members and the plant’s 38 employees to celebrate in Fostoria.
“The POET biorefining facility is an important piece of our energy plan to help reduce [our nation’s foreign oil] dependency by producing clean burning ethanol, economic growth and jobs to Northwest Ohio,” Latta said at the opening.
The Marion grand opening included addresses by U.S. Sen. George Voinovich, Marion County Commissioner Ken Frayer and General Manager Scott Case. Said Voinovich, “I could not be more proud of POET’s commitment to Ohio agriculture and Ohio jobs, and our nation’s national security … POET’s commitment could not come at a more needed time for our nation’s environmental, economic and national security needs.”
Each of the three plants will use 22 million bushels of area corn to produce 65 million gallons of ethanol per year, bringing POET’s total annual production capacity to 1.54 billion gallons.
Join the Parade
In late September, POET Biorefining – Groton, S.D., took part in homecoming festivities for Groton Area High School. During the homecoming parade, team members rode and walked alongside the float they built, and handed out water bottles and T-shirts to the crowd.For five POET plants, it’s lights, camera and action
When “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” ABC’s hit show, announced it would be making a stop in Freeborn County in Minnesota, a light bulb went off for Gary Pestorious, POET Biorefining – Glenville Board President.
“Gary recognized that this opportunity would only come around once in our area,” says Rick Mummert, POET Biorefining – Glenville General Manager.
The Glenville facility rallied together with four other POET plants—POET Biorefining – Lake Crystal, POET Biorefining – Preston and POET Biorefining – Bingham Lake in Minnesota, and POET Biorefining – Hanlontown in Iowa—to donate a Ford F-150 flex-fuel truck, complete with a year’s supply of flex fuel. Local Ford dealer Bob Syverson provided the vehicle at cost, plus donated another $1,000 to the effort. The episode aired Dec. 7.
The cause was a worthy one. Dirk and Susan DeVries, of Hayward Township, Minn., along with their children, April, 17, Derik, 15, and Hanna, 12, were well-known throughout the community for their service and contribution. But with leaky ceilings and rotting wood siding, their house was falling apart. Dirk, a mechanic at Royal Sports, is a former farmer who lost one of his arms in a farming accident. Susan, a music and reading teacher at Hollandale Christian School, was recently diagnosed with a serious heart condition.
Thanks to groups like POET and hundreds of volunteers, the family received a brand-new, state-of-the-art home, a flex-fuel vehicle and a college scholarship for April, among other things.
“Being there for the reveal, we were able to see the joy on the DeVries’ faces. It was great to be a part of a program like this and to just be able to help,” Mummert says. “I was impressed with how ABC came in and got everything done in 100 hours. It was an amazing feat.”
On the Move
Dean Frederickson, General Manager of POET Biorefining – Mitchell, S.D., recently joined the Mitchell Area Chamber of Commerce to lend his business expertise. “I feel this is a great way to get involved and give back to the community,” Frederickson says. “POET Biorefining – Mitchell has been involved with the Chamber since startup.” POET Biorefining – Hanlontown, Iowa, has a new General Manager as of September: Kelly Hansen. Hansen, who received a business administration degree from the University of Utah, comes to the Hanlontown plant from DHS Products. Before that, he spent 15 years as Plant Manager and Production Manager at Newell Rubber
POET Biorefining – Chancellor hunts for a cure
On Nov. 8, 10 Turner County, S.D., youths, who passed the state’s hunter safety course during the past year, gathered for a day of hunting with celebrities.
Each year, a different charity is chosen to benefit from the event, says Rick Serie, General Manager at POET Biorefining – Chancellor. Past charities have included the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the American Red Cross.
This year, more than $10,000 was raised through ticket and other sales at the event. Country music artists Jim Ed Brown, Jimmy Fortune and Jett Williams participated right alongside the hunters. After the hunt, the musicians entertained the crowds with a spectacular performance.
Local youth learn to read
When POET Biorefining – Leipsic, Ohio, General Manager Mark Borer approached his team members about volunteering their time for the Ohio-based Helping One Student at a Time (HOST) program, he was met with an immediate and enthusiastic answer: Yes!
Through the program, each volunteer is paired with a local student. The volunteer meets regularly with the student—the five participating Leipsic plant team members meet with their students once a week or more—to help cultivate reading skills. The Leipsic plant even has an alternate who can fill in for volunteers when they are unable to meet with their students.
“Team members were very desirous of committing their time to assisting in the important goal of improving young people’s reading skills, so we’ve had excellent participation from the team,” Borer says.
This year, 90 students will be mentored through the program, which began Sept. 22 and will run through the end of the school year. But the benefits of the program go beyond raising students’ reading levels. “It’s a way to not only help a child’s reading skills, but also build rapport and show support for a youth,” Borer says. “Not everyone has an adequate support structure elsewhere that provides them with as much support as they need, so it’s a great way to help our young kids prepare for the future, give back to the Leipsic community and project POET’s culture.”
Keeping Minnesota’s highways clean
Team members at POET Biorefining – Lake Crystal, Minn., are doing their part to keep area highways clean for the sake of both the community and the environment. Since 2006, the plant has participated in the state’s Adopt a Highway program, sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Transportation.”
Once every fall and again in the spring, Lake Crystal team members pick up garbage along a three-mile stretch of Highway 60 that runs next to the plant. It’s not only a way to give back to the community, it’s also a great team-building exercise, says General Manager Scott Austin.
“This is a very visible way for the plant to contribute to the local community,” Austin says. “It helps emphasize our commitment to protect the environment and be a good corporate citizen.
Other Stories in this collection:
Renew: Winter 2009