Charting Our Strategic Direction

Last month, the Pellet Fuels Institute’s board of directors met in Indianapolis for its final meeting of 2018.
By Tim Portz | December 02, 2018

Last month, the Pellet Fuels Institute’s board of directors met in Indianapolis for its final meeting of 2018. Prior to the meeting, our board chairman invited each board member to prepare a list of the most urgent, strategic priorities they would like to see PFI take on. The goal was to identify three that would guide the efforts of our organization as we move into 2019 and beyond. While the list of initiatives the PFI could focus on is certainly greater than a few, we felt it was important to limit ourselves to just three, in order to determine which emerged as the most critical for our board.

Overwhelmingly, the promotion of wood pellets as a viable heating and cooking fuel to new users was identified as the PFI’s top priority. This didn’t come as a surprise to any of our board members, and I believe each of us came to Indianapolis knowing this priority is a continuation of our stated goal of re-establishing 100,000 units sold as the new floor for annual pellet heating appliance sales. “Operation 100k” has been a rallying cry for our organization throughout the year, sharpening our thinking on several fronts while inspiring a revitalization of our relationships with retailers and appliance manufacturers. Our social media beta test, launched in September, was inspired by our members’ desire to get more actively involved in the promotion of pellet appliances. Growing efforts like these, and imagining new ones that will educate, inform and excite consumers about wood pellet heating, is now—formally—priority one.

Next, our board recognized that the PFI Standards Program is easily the most concrete offering the association has produced for the industry for quite a while, and that it’s time to recommit ourselves to making sure that retailers and consumers know it. If we can build some momentum toward our priority of more units sold and installed, it is vital that the consumers and businesses who elect to purchase a wood pellet appliance have a quality experience. Fuel quality is central to optimal appliance performance, and wood pellet consumers deserve a clear and practical means of identifying wood pellets that they know, with assurance, will perform in their appliance. While the PFI is confident its standards program does exactly that, it isn’t clear that consumers do. Moving into 2019, the PFI will take on that effort, as well as ancillary efforts including educating pellet retailers, appliance manufacturers and regulatory bodies about the value and utility of our standards program to their goals.

Finally, recognizing that we’re not likely to achieve our first two priorities without help, our board is recommitting the PFI to meaningful industry partnerships and collaboration with groups that share goals and challenges similar to ours. One of the hallmarks of this industry is how it is intrinsically tied to other industries. We obtain our feedstock from our partners in the forest products sector, depend upon appliance manufacturers to continue to innovate in our category, and rely upon a broad range of retailers to offer our product to consumers. It is relationships like these that we look forward to reimagining and revitalizing in our efforts to grow our market and protect our right to do business. During the Indianapolis meeting, the board repeatedly underscored the importance of active engagement with our partners. Wanting the same things and working toward the same things are different, and we’re committed to finding initiatives and projects that materially connect to our two other priorities, and work in tandem with our partners.

Now, our work is focused on identifying the tactics we will deploy to advance our strategic priorities. As an organization, we look forward to weaving these priorities into everything we say and do. Our committees now have an azimuth to guide their work, ensuring that what the PFI does on a day-to-day basis advances us toward our goals. We couldn’t be more excited to get started.

Author: Tim Portz
Executive Director, Pellet Fuels Institute