Double Your Pleasure

Pellet Press is re-branded and now twice monthly. Pellet Industry an intricate web of interconnected producers and buyers. Seeking sources for future big box retailers as pellet distributors story.
By Tim Portz | May 20, 2014

I imagine almost everyone remembers the years long television campaign Wrigley’s gum engaged in for what seemed like decades. Their Doublemint brand and the unforgettable "Double your pleasure, double your fun" jingle paired quaintly with identical twins out on dates, enjoying gum will be forever etched into my mind. 

This edition of my blog, Ash Content is the first to accompany our online pellet e-newsletter formerly known as Pellet Mill Monthly. We’ve rebranded the newsletter as Biomass Magazine’s Pellet Press as we have made the decision to move this e-newsletter to a twice a month format. I’d like to thank all of you for your robust readership and of course our advertisers and their belief in this product line and their patronage which makes all of this possible.

I take great pleasure from my work covering this industry. It isn’t, however, always fun. As a people, we are engaged in the biggest challenge of our existence, sustainably delivering the quality of life we all desire. The clean generation of food and energy are at the top of that list. By way of explanation my last blog, “Biomass is Baseload” was a reaction to an expertly written article by Charles Mann for Wired magazine. Thanks also to Charles who thoughtfully read my last blog and left a nice comment on our website. I’m better off for reading it, but I finished the article and was as troubled by the enormity of the issue as I have been in some time. The scope and scale of our relationship with coal is so large, so entrenched and honestly, so connected to our comforts that I think any real movement away from it in the near term is unlikely. Add to that there continue to be smart folks that remain unconvinced about the benefit of using biogenic feedstock for the production of energy and suddenly the conversation moves away from the fun category and squarely into the work category.

The good news is the dialogue is robust. People are interested and our job is to tell the story. The pellet industry, while global, is actually a relatively small community and more and more the stories begin to pile on top of one another and a web of interconnected opportunities and challenges begins to emerge. For instance, last week I joined the Rentech investor call and the Drax Power Station was mentioned by name. Later that day I transcribed an interview that I had done with Gordon Murray of the Wood Pellet Association of Canada and he mentioned Drax. Finally, while on the Rentech call their CEO and President Hunt Ramsbottom talked quite a bit about their decision to purchase residential pellet manufacturer New England Wood Pellet and how they will go forward as a manufacturer of both industrial and residential wood pellets. Bringing the conversation full circle, I was speaking with a residential pellet distributor in England eyeing the Rentech purchase of NEWP with great interest. A global industry, but a small world to be sure. It is my pleasure to sit in the middle of it all.

Seeking Producers to interview for a story about big box retailers as pellet distributors:

I’m obsessed with supply chains. The story of a product’s manufacture and distribution is fascinating to me, especially for pellets. I think we’ve done a great job of telling the story of the supply chain that moves pellets across the Atlantic. Where I think we’ve got a little bit of work to do is to better tell the story of how residential pellets move around this country. I reached out to two members of our editorial board within the last two weeks and asked them both what percentage of their pellets are purchased and distributed by big box retailers like Home Depot, Lowe’s and Tractor Supply Company. Both of them said over 50%. One of them said the number was close to 80%. I’d like to tell that story. How long have big box retailers been selling pellets? What is it like to do business with them? Are sales to big box retailers increasing? Have any big box retailers started to also sell pellet appliances? Ultimately, I’d like to interview some professionals in charge of this product at larger retailers. The market reach they enjoy is hard to argue and, at least for me, it seems in the best interest of this industry to maximize that reach. If you have thoughts, opinions or lead sources please send me a note.