FEW: Bryan, Madson receive awards

By Hope Deutscher | June 03, 2009
Report posted June 16, 2009, at 10:37 p.m. CST

Philip Madson, president of Katzen International Inc., and Kathy Bryan, president and co-founder of BBI International, were honored for their contributions to the ethanol industry during the 2009 International Fuel Ethanol Workshop and Expo's general session in Denver on June 15. Madson received the Award of Excellence; Bryan was given the High Octane Award.

Through a formal nomination and peer review procedure, the Award of Excellence identifies and recognizes an individual who has published papers and/or made significant research, technical, advisory and development contributions in the ethanol industry.

In 1980, Madson joined Katzen, a well-known technology company founded by Dr. Raphael Katzen in 1955. The company includes a group of highly experienced chemical and mechanical engineers, biologists and designers who are active in a wide variety of chemical and related process industries. Throughout the years, Katzen has helped build and design about 140 major ethanol plants in 34 countries. Since growing up in Minnesota, Madson has led several integrated agricultural processing systems that merge grain farming, cattle feeding and ethanol production.

"This is extraordinarily humbling," Madson said. "I would like to salute all those who came before because you were my inspiration. Not only those of you who have received this wonderful award but all of you in the audience who inspired me in the industry every day by your actions and your dedication. There is one person that I must simple acknowledge for his inspiration to me and that is Dr. Katzen, the founder of our firm and the one who really inspired me and helped me understand that excellence is its own reward. Ray, I salute you."

Just a few hours after receiving the Award of Excellence, Madson said he was still in a state of shock and though he seeks opportunities to write and teach about ethanol plants, he doesn't seek out being recognized in such a manner. "Being an engineer, my life's work is trying to design the next best ethanol plant that outperforms our client's expectations, that is what turns me on," he said. "I love teaching and what makes me feel good has always been seeing the people that I have helped train, that I have helped to develop their business succeed - and that is what's really exciting to me because through them I succeed. That's what my world is, so being recognized for that isit's hard to come up with words. I have played an important role in teaching students and this is clear that other people have seen what I believe is important, what I am committed to, other people have seen that and that's what made me feel so good about this."

Since the 1980s, Bryan has been a dynamic and prominent figure in the ethanol industry, said Ralph Groschen, senior marketing specialist with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, who has known Bryan since her early years in the industry.

The High Octane Award is given through people's choice, nomination and voting. It recognizes a person who has helped the ethanol industry mature and progress over the years, and in particular has made an impact on the industry in their own special way.

Bryan's ethanol experience began in the 1980s as a family effort. Among her accomplishments, she has served on a number of boards, lobbied for the industry in Washington, D.C., and helped start the FEW. Among the comments recommending Bryan for the award, Groschen said, was "she is a tireless ethanol supporter, has befriended hundreds of people," "she was ethanol before it was cool," and she has truly made an impact worldwide in this industry."

Due to her battle with cancer, Bryan was not in attendance at the conference, but taped a message. "I'm usually here behind the podium giving this award so it's a little awkward to be receiving it this year. I can only tell you that I am truly, truly honored," she said. "I am also very proud to be part of the huge team of ethanol pioneers. One of my greatest satisfactions has been to see the growth of good paying jobs in our rural communities and see farmers add measurably to the value of their operations and livestock. The money continued to flow down Main Street and people started to see a picture that their cars ran well and it was good for the environment and for financial security."

The Award of Excellence and Octane Award winners receive a trophy and a check for $1,000.

The 2009 FEW Scholarship winners were Laura Koenig from Granite Falls, Minn., and Kevin Potas from Plymouth, Minn.

Koenig is in her second year of studies at Minnesota West Community and Technical College in Granite Falls, where she is studying renewable energy technology. Koenig said when she graduates she wants to land a "hands-on job in the ethanol industry." Potas will begin his studies at the University of Thomas in St. Paul this fall, majoring in accounting and business. Kevin plans to become a chief financial officer at an ethanol plant one day.

Koenig and Potas will receive $1,000 towards their tuition.