Growth Energy Leadership
Tom Buis joined Growth Energy in March 2009 as the CEO of the organization. Prior to joining Growth Energy, Buis was elected National Farmers Union’s 13th president. Buis had been with the organization since March 1998, previously serving as vice president of government relations. Buis served for nearly five years as senior agriculture policy advisor to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D. In addition, Buis worked for U.S. Rep. Jim Jontz, D-Ind., for nearly five years as legislative assistant and legislative director. He was also special assistant for agriculture to U.S. Sen. Birch Bayh, D-Ind. Before moving to Washington, D.C. in 1987, Buis was a full-time grain and livestock farmer in Putnam and Morgan Counties in West Central Indiana, with brothers Mike and Jeff, who continue to operate the family farm.
Jeff Broin, Executive Chairman and Founder, POET, LLC
Jeff Broin is the Executive Chairman and Founder of POET, the largest producer of biofuels worldwide. The 27 U.S. plants, designed and constructed by POET, have a combined annual production capacity of 1.7 billion gallons of ethanol. Mr. Broin acted as CEO while growing the company from one small plant to the current comprehensive network of facilities, and simultaneously founded and built joint management, marketing, research and design companies that continually work with the POET network of plants. POET has also been a pioneer in the area of cellulosic biofuel technology and is building Project Liberty, one of the first cellulosic ethanol plants in the U.S. Mr. Broin has been involved in biofuels advocacy and promotion on both the federal and state levels for more than 25 years. Mr. Broin holds a degree in Agricultural Business from the University of Wisconsin.
Gen. Wesley K. Clark (Ret.), Wesley K. Clark & Associates
Gen. Wesley K. Clark joined Growth Energy as co-chairman in January 2009. He graduated first in his class at West Point and retired as a four-star general after 38 years in the U.S. Army. General Clark commanded at the battalion, brigade and division level, and served in a number of significant staff positions. He finished his career as NATO commander and Supreme Allied Commander Europe; during this time, he led NATO forces to victory in Operation Allied Force, saving 1.5 million Albanians from ethnic cleansing. General Clark serves as Chairman and CEO of Wesley K. Clark Associates, a strategic consulting firm, and participates in a number of international and domestic organizations and corporations.
Todd Becker, President, CEO and Director, Green Plains Renewable Energy, Inc.
Todd Becker is President, CEO and Director of Green Plains Renewable Energy, Inc., the fourth largest ethanol producer in North America. Mr. Becker has more than 24 years of experience in commodity processing businesses, risk management and supply chain management. Previously, Mr. Becker worked for ten years with ConAgra Foods in various management positions including Vice President of International Marketing and President of ConAgra Grain Canada. Mr. Becker has a Masters in Finance from Indiana University and a degree in Business Administration from the University of Kansas.
Bob Casper, President, Ethanol Products
Bob Casper is President of Ethanol Products, LLC d/b/a Poet Ethanol Products. Mr. Casper formed the company in 2000 for the purpose of developing ethanol markets and infrastructure. He has 35 years of business experience in energy commodities, proprietary trading of energy commodities, equities, derivatives, agriculture insurance derivatives, structured products, marketing, distribution, trading operations and venture development. Mr. Casper graduated from Trinity University in 1977 with a degree in biology.
Richard Childress, President & CEO, Richard Childress Racing
Richard Childress is the president and CEO of Richard Childress Racing, a 12-time NASCAR championship-winning organization. A former NASCAR driver himself, Childress got his start in 1969 and earned 76 top-10 finishes in 285 races before handing over driving duties to Dale Earnhardt in 1981. Together, they established RCR as one of the premier teams in all of motorsports. Childress is also proprieter of Childress Vineyards, owns Yadkin River Angus, a Black Angus cattle ranch, and is an avid outdoorsmen with a strong commitment to wildlife preservation.
Ray Defenbaugh, President & CEO of Big River Resources, LLC
Raymond Defenbaugh is a founding member, President, CEO and Chairman of Big River Resources LLC, a tristate ethanol organization with facilities in Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin. In addition to serving as president of Big River Resources Cooperative, he also sits on the board of Absolute Energy, LLC, is a delegate to the U.S. Grains Council, and is director of The National Grain and Feed Association. Defenbaugh has farmed, banked, and taught vocational agriculture in Illinois, as well co-op development, business plan development, and business techniques in Moldova and Russia. He holds a Master's in economics, and has been awarded the Prairie Farmer Master Farmer Award.
Abe Hughes, Vice President, New Holland North America
Abe Hughes is the Vice President for New Holland North America. Prior to this role, Abe was Vice President/Director of Business Development for the Americas of the Fiat Group / CNH, where he was responsible for mergers and acquisitions and new business, and founded Hughes Girardi Partners, an international mergers and acquisition advisory and investment firm. He has served on various company board roles in Latin America and the United States, and holds an MBA from Harvard University and a B.A. from Cornell University.
Mark Marquis, CEO, Marquis Energy, Inc.
Mark Marquis is the President and General Manager at Marquis Energy, LLC located in Hennepin, Ill. and at Marquis Energy – Wisconsin, LLC in Necedah, Wisc. Before developing the 110 MGY ethanol plant in Hennepin, Mark led the development of several family businesses including grain trading and transportation logistics. The companies have been involved in trucking, barging and the import and export of commodities. Growing up on a farm in central Illinois, Mark became familiar with the transportation and agriculture industries, which contributed to his interest in manufacturing fuel grade ethanol.
Steve McNinch, CEO, Western Plains Energy
Steve McNinch is CEO of Western Plains Energy, LLC. Mr. McNinch has over 20 years of manufacturing and management experience in fields ranging from home products, automotive, defense supplier, and most recently ethanol. Mr. McNinch is Past-Chairman of the Kansas Association of Ethanol Processors. As an officer on the Board of Directors of Growth Energy, he has been active in the continued promotion of ethanol. Mr. McNinch holds degrees in Chemistry and Physics and an MBA from Southwestern College in Winfield, Kan.
Gary Pestorious, CEO, Pestorious, Inc.
Gary Pestorious is CEO of a family-run 8,500-acre operation in Minnesota. Mr. Pestorious is a long-time member of the Minnesota Corn Growers Association and served as Chairman of POET-Glenville for the last ten years. He has served on the MCGA Board of Directors, the National Corn Growers Association’s Ethanol Committee, and the American Coalition for Ethanol Board of Directors. Mr. Pestorious also served on the board of the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council and the Renewable Fuels Association. He currently serves on the boards of POET-Hanlontown and POET-Lake Crystal.
Dan Sanders, Vice President, Front Range Energy
Dan Sanders is Vice President of Front Range Energy, an ethanol production facility located in Windsor, Colo. After helping to form Front Range Energy in 2004, Mr. Sanders led development of the comany which started production in mid-2006. Dan has over 10 years of experience in the ethanol industry and has been active in promoting biofuels through both public relation and educational campaigns in Colorado, and industry advocacy work on Capitol Hill. He holds a business management degree from Arizona State University.
Rick Schwarck, President, Chairman & CEO, Absolute Energy, LLC
Rick Schwarck is the co-founder of Absolute Energy, LLC, an ethanol plant near St. Ansgar, Iowa; he has served as the President, Chairman, and CEO of the plant since it opened. Previously, Mr. Schwarck had a 30-year career in financial services, during which he was co-owner of The Schwarck Agency, LLC, an insurance and investment firm. He has also been a member of the National Association of Insurance and Investment Advisors for 30 years. In addition to his work with Absolute Energy, Mr. Schwarck is very active in the U.S. ethanol community, participating in numerous organizations, including serving as President of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association; board member of the Renewable Products Marketing Group; board member of the Renewable Fuels Association; and founder of both Global Carbon Solutions Inc. and Further Fuels, LLC.
Greg Breukelman, Vice President of Communications, POET
Greg Breukelman serves as Vice President of Communications for POET. Prior to joining POET, Mr. Breukelman owned regional advertising agency BKG. He has received numerous advertising awards and was awarded the 2006 SBA South Dakota Small Businessperson of the Year. He actively promotes ethanol by serving as a board member of Growth Energy and previously as a board member of EPIC. Mr. Breukelman graduated from the University of South Dakota with a B.S. in business management.
Greg Krissek, Kennedy & Coe
Greg Krissek recently joined the Wichita office of Kennedy and Coe, a national accounting and consulting firm. He has served as Chairman of the board for both EPIC and the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition; and is a board member of seven ethanol plant boards and the Kansas Association of Ethanol Processors. Prior to joining Kennedy and Coe, Mr. Krissek was Director of Government Affairs at ICM, Inc. He also served as Director of Operations for Kansas Corn and for the Kansas Grain Sorghum Producers Association and worked eleven years with the Kansas Department of Agriculture. He holds a B.A. in economics and political science from Rockhurst University and J.D. and MBA from the University of Denver.