Oh resigns from REG, Howard appointed interim president, CEO

By Ron Kotrba | July 11, 2017

Longtime leader of Renewable Energy Group Inc., Daniel J. Oh, resigned from his position as president, CEO and member of the board July 3. REG’s board of directors has appointed Randy Howard, a director on the company’s board since 2007, as the interim president and CEO.

Biodiesel Magazine spoke with Howard July 5 about the seemingly abrupt departure of Oh, and Howard’s new role. “It may have seemed abrupt, but it was not,” Howard said. “We’ve been talking for some time about the leadership REG needs to take the company to the next level.”

The growth plans REG laid out last month after the company’s purchase of land at its Geismar, Louisiana, renewable diesel production facility include increasing production on-site through various means, improving logistics, and expanding renewable diesel production to other locations where REG already makes biodiesel, such as Grays Harbor, Washington, and Seneca, Illinois.

“Our growth strategy we presented is capital-intensive and even international,” Howard said. “Oh’s resignation was mutual. The long-term strategy we have depends on us executing our growth plans clearly, and the company needs a leader with experience to get this done.”  

Howard said his extensive leadership experience in the petroleum industry, including 33 years at Unocal Corp., will facilitate acceleration and implementation of REG’s growth plans.

“I can tell you, the complexity of a renewable diesel facility is different than a biodiesel plant,” Howard said. “There’s a tremendous increase in scope and complexity. I’ve done that in my history.”

Howard said a lot has changed in the U.S. biodiesel industry over the past decade. “When I first joined the board, we went to conferences where there were still people making biodiesel in their garages,” he recalled. “The industry has matured, and our customers have no question about the quality of our product or our ability to deliver. That has made us an industry leader.”  

While Howard said the industry has changed, one thing that hasn’t is REG’s commitment to product quality and its employees. “Like I told our employees today, what makes REG tick is all of them,” he said. “I continue to be impressed by the quality of our senior leaders, and the systems we have in place to deliver high-quality product to our customers. None of that has changed. That’s still our core.”

The board of directors will begin the search for a new CEO. “They’ve given me the reigns to run the company until we find a long-term leader,” Howard said. “There’s no date on it, and there’s no hurry.”