2018 Pellet Fuels Institute Annual Conference

Sunday, June 24 - Tuesday, June 26, 2018
Marriott Myrtle Beach Resort & Spa at Grand Dunes
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina


Sunday, June 24




7:30 am – 11:00 am

2017-2018 PFI Board Meeting

8:00 am  – 6:00 pm



11:00 am – 11:30 am

Pre-Golf Lunch (golfers only)


11:30 am – 5:00 pm

PFI Golf Tournament

Start your conference off with a round of golf at Myrtle Beach’s famed Grande Dunes Resort Golf Course. A Roger Rulewich Group design, the course is positioned on a high bluff creating a spectacular view of the Intracoastal Waterway. This Myrtle Beach golf course itself is known for its superior links-style design, which offers expansive Bermuda grass fairways with subtle undulations onto large, modestly contoured greens that feature brand-new Champion Bermuda. Tee time is 1:00 pm. Shuttle service is provided.

 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm           

Opening Reception and Golf Awards Presentation

Enjoy drinks and hors-d'oeuvres with our Exhibitors with a new twist!



Monday, June 25




7:00 am – 6:00 pm

Registration Open


7:30 am – 8:30 am

Breakfast with Our Industry Partners


 8:30 am – 8:45 am      

Welcome & Setting the Stage

Tim Portz,
Executive Director, Pellet Fuels Institute

8: 45 am – 10:00 am 

Operation 100k: Examining a Strategic Effort that is Foundational to the Health of  Our Industry

While there are a number of factors that could deliver a larger or growing market opportunity for pellet producers, there is only one that the PFI can work to influence: demand. Mild winters and cyclical competing heating fuel prices are a roller coaster that producers simply have to ride, but the acquisition of new pellet consumers is an effort the PFI can and should undertake. This panel will outline the foundations of a new strategic initiative to intentionally and aggressively grow the number of wood pellet buyers in this country while identifying the marketplace partners we’ll need to work with to achieve this ambitious goal.

Moderator: Tim Portz, Executive Director, Pellet Fuels Institute 

John Crouch, Director of Public Affairs, Hearth, Patio, & Barbecue 

John Shimek, Senior Vice President - Dealer Sales, Hearth & Home Technologies 

Seth Walker, Senior Economist, Future Metrics

Dan Coffey, Sales and Marketing Manager, Shaw Resources

10:00 am – 10:30 am

Networking Break

10:30 am – 12:00 pm

Grillin’ and Spillin’: Gauging the Potential Impact of Absorbent and Pellet Grill Markets

While the vast majority of wood pellets in the retail marketplace are purchased as a space heating fuel, there are other uses for the product we manufacture. Moreover, producers appreciate their potential for increased profitability as well as their ability to flatten out the seasonality that comes along with wood pellet production. Finally, wood pellet grilling and barbecue appliances are enjoying a strong marketplace run, exposing more and more consumers to wood pellets every day. This panel will stoke discussions about the opportunity each of these markets presents to our members by themselves, and what the potential is for each of them to introduce new consumers to wood pellets as a space heating option. 

Moderator: Tim Portz, Executive Director, Pellet Fuels Institute

Kenny Lisle, Sales & Marketing Manager, Energex American

John Weaver, BBQr’s Delight Wood Pellets 

Bob Robinson, Director of Outside events, Dansons

12:00 pm – 1:30 pm  Networking Lunch with Exhibitors  
1:30 pm – 3:00 pm

A Conversation with Our Allies and Marketplace Partners in the Retail Space

How can pellet producers help retailers add even greater value to a pellet heating appliance and fuel value proposition? For the Pellet Fuels Institute and its members to achieve the kind of lasting marketplace growth they are aiming for with their Operation 100k initiative, this question must be explored and answered. This panel will feature representatives from the hearth and home, and home improvement categories and will explore the here and now wants and needs of heating equipment buyers and how our industry might best position itself at the point-of-purchase to capture more of those sales. 

Dean Michanczyk, Dean's Stove and Spa 

Shawn Griffin, Upper Valley Stove Co.

Carrie Annand, Pellet Fuels Institute, Making a Case to Use Social Media as Cost-Effective Pathway to Success in Operation 100k

3:00 pm – 3:30 pm Networking Break  
3:30 pm – 4:30 pm

Best Practices in Protecting Employees and Your Plant from Fire and Explosion

As employers and business owners our first responsibility is to return our employees to their homes and families safely at the end of each day. Fires and explosions represent a very real danger to our employees, our equipment and our reputation with our customers and their prevention deserves our best thinking and most diligent efforts. This panel will spark a frank discussion about the state of shared best practices in the industry as well as a path forward for increased cooperation towards the universally held goal of an incident-free industry. 

Moderator: Tim Portz, Executive Director, Pellet Fuels Institute

Jason Krbec, Sales Engineering Manager, CV Technology Inc.

Clive Nixon, Regional Sales Manager, BS&B Pressure Safety Management

Fred Callahan, Southeast Regional Manager, IEP Technologies

4:45 pm – 5:30 pm

Boost or Barrier: A Conversation about the Impact of State and Federal Policy on Our Industry

Our industry is impacted by state and federal policy whether we intend or desire for it to be or not. Progress towards targeted policy outcomes at the state or federal level, however, is often measured in decades. This panel will feature both board members and industry observers, and look to foster discussions on the policy initiatives in play that require our attention as well as the condition of our political base of support in DC and state legislatures throughout our predominant market areas. 

Moderator: Tim Portz, Executive Director, Pellet Fuels Institute

Charlie Niebling, Principal & Partner, Innovate Natural Resource Solutions

Stephen Faehner, President & CEO, American Wood Fibers

5:30 pm – 7:00 pm   

Networking Reception




Tuesday, June 26



7:30 am  –11:00 am

Registration Open 


7:30 am – 8:15 am

Breakfast with Our Industry Partners


8:15-8:30 am

Annual Membership Meeting 

Stan Elliot, Chairman

Don Wagner, Incoming Chairman

8:30 am – 9:15 am

Allies are Where You Find Them: Leveraging the Existing Base of Support for Wood Pellet Heat in North America

The wood pellet sector is fortunate in that the benefits it provides the broader forest products sector has resulted in a broad and diverse base of support and enthusiasm for our industry. In many cases, this support manifests itself in direct and specific efforts to see wood pellet heating more broadly deployed. The conversation during this discussion will explore the role the PFI can and should play to amplify, support and coordinate those efforts to increase their overall marketplace and/or policy impact.  

Moderator: Tim Portz, Executive Director, Pellet Fuels Institute

Gordon Murray, Executive Director, Wood Pellet Association of Canada

Jeff Serfass, Executive Director, Biomass Thermal Energy Council


9:15 am – 10:00 am 

Member Forum 1: Weighing the Role Standards Should Play in the Pellet Fuels Institute's Future

No issue in our trade association has the ability to generate the kind of robust debate that the PFI Standards program does. The program is viewed by many as one of the most useful and lasting programs in the association’s history while others doubt the necessity of the program and its utility in their operations. Developed initially as an alternative to a standard developed by a regulatory body, the program and how it can and should contribute to the health of both the industry and the association needs to be clearly articulated and defined. This panel discussion will allow our attendees to share their organization’s position on not only the program itself but also their thoughts on the role that standards will play in the strategic direction of PFI in the years to come.

 Moderator: Tim Portz, Executive Director, Pellet Fuels Institute

Billy Hoskins, Easy Heat

Stan Elliot, Vice President – Sales & Marketing, Pacific Coast Fiber Fuels

Darren Winchester, Safety/Quality/Logistics Manager, Indeck Ladysmith, LLC


10:00 am – 11:00 am          

Member Forum 2: Where Do We Go From Here?

This year’s Pellet Fuels Institute Annual Conference featured an aggressive agenda built specifically to reposition the PFI in the minds of its members, its customers, and the broader renewable energy community. To conclude our discussions, a diverse group of members will take the stage to share their observations of the event, the questions the discussions sparked for them and how they’ll carry the post-conference energy forward into their operation and market.

Moderator: Tim Portz, Executive Director, Pellet Fuels Institute

Brett Jordan, CEO, Lignetics

Don Wagner, General Manager, Appalachian Wood Pellets

Ben Rose, CEO, Michigan Wood Fuels 

Bruce Lisle, Energex America