November 16, 2018 

In This Week's Pellet Wire:

From the Director’s Desk – Where We're Going

Two weeks I ago I authored my comments for the Pellet Wire in anticipation of our fall board meeting and shared with you that our board was committed to leaving Indianapolis with a well-defined strategic direction. I am happy to report that our board had a lively discussion about our priorities moving forward with an eye on our resources and the knowledge that we have some practical limitations that must be considered.

Overwhelmingly, the promotion of wood pellets as a viable heating and cooking fuel to new users was identified as our number one priority. Candidly, I think everyone came to Indianapolis knowing that a continuation of our stated goal of re-establishing 100,000 units sold as the new floor for annual pellet heating appliance sales would figure somewhere into our top 3 strategic priorities and I’m glad it did. “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. I’m happy with our start in that regard but we’ve got a long way to go. We had a Promotions & Communications committee call this week and clearly, this group will shoulder much of the work and thinking we undertake towards this end. If this resonates with you and you would like to be part of those efforts, please contact me. I’d be happy to get you involved.

Next, our board recognized that the PFI Standards Program is easily the most concrete offering our association has produced for the industry in quite some time and it is time to recommit ourselves to making sure that retailers and consumers know it. If as an organization we can build some momentum towards our priority of more units sold and installed, it is vital that those 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 in the marketplace that they can be assured will perform in their appliance. While we know that our Standards Program is that means, it isn’t clear that consumers do. Moving into 2019 the PFI will take on that effort as well as ancillary efforts like educating pellet retailers, appliance manufacturers and regulatory bodies about the value and utility of our Standards program to advance their respective goals.

Third, recognizing that we’re not likely to achieve our first two priorities without help, our board is recommitting our organization to meaningful industry partnerships and collaboration with groups that share similar goals and challenges to our own. One of the hallmarks of this industry is how intrinsically tied to other industries it is. 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.

Finally, I’d like to publicly thank our board for taking the time to join me in Indianapolis. I’m always humbled when I consider that our board is peopled with volunteers. It was clear in speaking with everyone in Indianapolis that we’re all busy managing a promising heating season and I appreciate their willingness to gather, discuss our direction and commiserate about our shared challenges. I look forward to our next opportunity to do so.

- Tim Portz
Executive Director

Pellets Warm the National Mall at the Wood Stove Design Challenge

This week, the Alliance for Green Heat held its biennial Wood Stove Design Challenge on the National Mall sponsored by PFI member Lignetics. It was the coldest week in Washington yet this fall, but the competition was held over several days in a specially designed, vented and cozily warm tent within view of the U.S. Capitol and just steps away from the Smithsonian Castle.

Wood stove designers showcased their latest innovations, which had each advanced to DC from previous rounds of competition. On the floor were pellet-heating appliances, as well as cordwood stoves and combined heat and thermal wood-burning appliances. Maine Energy Systems even parked a car out front with a sign that said: “powered by wood pellets.”

There were many familiar faces at the event from the pellet fuels industry. Several federal agencies sent representatives, including the U.S. Forest Service, Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency. Most of all, pellet heating and wood heating gained a place of prominence in our Nation’s Capital. 

Social Media Beta Test FAQs

There’s still some time to reserve your spot in the PFI Social Media Beta Test! Please be in touch with Tim as soon as possible if you’re interested in signing up or learning more. 

What we're hoping to learn:

The program is being developed to efficiently enable the PFI to test a small number of pro-pellet messages with actual consumers across the pellet-using geographies of the United States. Social media advertising enables us to test messages and identify audiences that are receptive to pellet fuels while promoting pellets. Messages that encourage consumers to further explore wood pellets as a home-heating option may include but are not limited to:

  • The economic advantage of wood pellets over other fuel options
  • The ambiance of a cozy wood fire without a fireplace
  • Ease of use of a pellet appliance; no need to haul logs
  • Heat Local. Using wood pellets for home-heat helps the local economy.
  • Wood pellets are an environmentally preferable, low-carbon, renewable home heat option.
  • Wood pellets play an important role in sustainable forest management.

 1. What is the ultimate goal of the sponsored content?

Sponsored content will target social media users who may not be aware of wood pellets for home heat. Whereas a business can create posts that its followers will see, and boost the post beyond that audience to some extent, sponsored content will identify potentially receptive new audiences and target them multiple times. Sponsored content also enables us to test our ads and messages, and monitor stats like how many times our content is being seen or attracts engagement. In a recent test with a retailer in Pennsylvania, we were able to reach 30,000 Facebook and Instagram users an average of 2.5 times each.

 2. I've heard there is a cost to post sponsored content on both Facebook and Instagram. Does the cost of the program cover these expenses?

Yes. The cost of the program covers both a monthly ad budget of $100 for a four-month campaign and the cost of implementing the program. The cost for the full four-month beta test is $1500; the pellet fuels manufacturer and retailer are welcome to split that cost in any way.

3. Will my brand have a presence on any of the sponsored ads?

This campaign is designed to raise awareness of pellet heating among receptive consumers and to send them to a knowledgeable local expert who can guide them through the purchase of a pellet appliance. During this beta test, we will be featuring the logos and websites of the featured local hearth and patio retailer wherever possible. We encourage pellet fuels manufacturers who are sponsoring retailers to work with those retailers to highlight your brand at the point of sale as a preferred or recommended pellet fuels manufacturer.

4.  Why do I need to involve a specialty hearth retailer? Why can't I just promote my brand with this beta test?

To create a new pellet fuels customer, that customer must first own a pellet appliance. With this campaign, we are seeking to introduce fresh, new consumers to the benefits of pellet heating. Hearth and patio retailers are on the front lines of selling appliances, so we want to a) introduce the concept of pellet heating to consumers and b) send them to someone who can advise them on installation.

 5.  What images will be used in the sponsored posts?

We welcome all images of pellet fuels appliances and are happy to use photos supplied by the retailer. Our preference is for retailers to supply promotional photos of the products that they sell from the manufacturer. If promotional photos are unavailable, we will choose from the images that we've already collected. It's important that we feature photos of pellet appliances in an array of home environments so that viewers will be able to picture an appliance in their home.

6.  My retail partner already uses both Facebook and Instagram for their business. Can they keep up with their other social media efforts while the PFI campaign is underway?

Absolutely. We enthusiastically encourage regular Facebook and Instagram activity during the campaign—both for pellet appliances and for other merchandise the retailer may carry. The more visibility, the better. We also plan to work with each retailer's social media manager to re-post some of our ad content during the campaign.

 7.  My retailer would like to use this opportunity to highlight special offers for wood pellets and pellet appliances. Is this program flexible enough to allow for that?

Certainly. We urge each retailer to provide us with a special offer for pellet appliances that we can feature in our ads. We can feature a new offer each month, or keep up the same offer throughout the season.

 8.  What kind of information will I and my retail partner be able to see during the test?

We will share monthly reports that show the key stats of the campaign—including audience reach, clicks, post engagement (likes or scrolling through a slideshow, for instance), and more data.

 9.  How will we measure success for the program?

Our ultimate goal is to promote the sales of pellet appliances, making progress toward Operation 100K. We'll measure success in several ways—the number of people reached, engagement with our ads, and retailer leads. If we are able to replicate our initial test from this summer in each of the selected markets, we will reach 250,000 or more social media users. We will also ask our retailers to keep track of how many leads they get from Facebook or Instagram and to report these numbers.

*The social media beta program is open to manufacturer members only. 

Photo of the Week - Board Selfie

We're building a collection of photos of our members, their pellets mills and product. Send them to Carrie Annand at [email protected]. This week’s featured photo is a selfie of the Board taken at the recent meeting in Indianapolis. 

Follow PFI on Twitter, Friend Us on Facebook, and Connect with Us on LinkedIn 

We'd like to connect and interact with PFI members and anyone else involved in pellet fuels production! 

Here's how you can help us build our online community:

  1. Follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook!
  2. Encourage your colleagues and other business associates to follow us.
  3. Send Carrie Annand news or other ideas to post on LinkedIn.

Have News to Share on Pellet Wire?

We'd love to feature your company's news in a future Pellet Wire! We want to be the first to know your company's recent developments to share them with the wider pellet fuels industry.

Please be in touch with Carrie Annand with information on your company's growth, job openings, promotions, or other news. 

Join a PFI Committee

We welcome and encourage all interested PFI members to get involved in our committees. There are many opportunities to help steer the association. No matter where your expertise and interests lie, we have a committee that will suit you. Help us plan our next conference, shape our policy agenda, lead communications outreach, or grow the PFI Standards Program. Visit PFI's website for more information. 

Upcoming Industry Events

March 14 - 16, 2019: HPBA Expo 2019

June 4 - 6, 2019: 2019 PFI Annual Conference 

Connect with PFI
Join PFI

Fuel Availability

Are you a PFI member, pellet manufacturer, or distributor that has fuel available? Email [email protected] to have your listing updated or added to the PFI website.

PFI Membership Thanks for Your Continued Support of PFI! 

Not a member yet? Learn more about how PFI can work for you and join today! If you think you are getting this message in error, please contact the PFI Office.

Industry News

Fuel, Wood Pellets in Demand after Cold Sets In 
WMUR – Manchester, NH

Watch Full Video

Wood Pellet Plant Opens in Copiah County 
WJTV – Gallatan, MS

Economic development leader broke ground on a wood pellet plant in Copiah County Wednesday.

Alternative energy development will give a plant that hasn't been in operation since 1992 a new lease on life. 

At full capacity, the facility at the Copiah County Industrial Park in Gallman should create 500,000 metric tons of wood pellets a year. The pellets will be exported overseas and converted into electricity. It should mean more jobs in manufacturing and trucking for Mississippians. U.S. 

Read Full Article

New Study Stokes the Debate over Oil Heat Versus Wood 

Read Full Article

Pellet Fuels Institute

[email protected] | (206) 209-5277 |