Growth Energy Leadership

Tom Buis, CEO
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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. 

Board Members

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.

Steve Bleyl, Executive Vice President – Ethanol Marketing, Green Plains Trade Group
Steve Bleyl joined Green Plains as Executive Vice President – Ethanol Marketing in October 2008. He previously served as Chief Executive Officer of Renewable Products Marketing Group LLC, an ethanol marketing company, building it from a cooperative marketing group of five ethanol plants in one state to seventeen production facilities in seven states. Prior to that, Mr. Bleyl worked for over 20 years in various senior management and executive positions in the fuel industry with Mobil, Phibro, and Koch.

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.

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.

Mitch Miller, CEO, Carbon Green BioEnergy, LLC
Mitch currently serves as Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director for Carbon Green BioEnergy, LLC and is the President of Iroquois Bio-Energy Company, LLC. Prior to Energetix, LLC, Mitch has had an extensive history in the ethanol industry dating back to 1994, where he began with Corn Plus of Winnebago, Minnesota. Mitch's education has been in Process Plant Technology from Bismarck State College and Technical Business Management from Southwest State University.

Kip Tom, Managing Member, Tom Farms, LLC
Kip Tom is the Managing Member of Tom Farms LLC, one of Monsanto’s largest seed producers as well as one of Indiana’s largest grain commodity production businesses. He also serves as President of CereServ Inc.  In addition to being active in Agri-Business operations in Indiana for the past 40 years, Kip has also served as a crop production consultant to various companies in Argentina, Brazil and Chile.  Today Kip leads finance, strategy and production operations for Tom Farms and CereServ in the U.S. and Argentina.

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 company 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.

Dave Vander Griend, CEO, ICM, Inc.
Dave Vander Griend is founder and CEO of ICM, Inc. Before founding ICM, Mr. Vander Griend was VP of operations for High Plains Corporation (now Abengoa Bioenergy), an ethanol production company. Mr. Vander Griend left High Plains in early 1995 to start ICM in Colwich, Kan., where it has grown from 20 employees to more than 400. In 2003, Mr. Vander Griend received the "Distinguished Service Award" at the BBI International Fuel Ethanol Workshop (FEW) for helping the ethanol industry grow during the past 20 years.