The Power of Pride and Passion

By Mike Bryan | January 11, 2012

Have you ever wondered what really drives the ethanol industry? Given the challenges it has faced over the years, it would seem as though it should have been dead and buried long ago. Thirty-five years later it’s still moving forward.

The progress can’t be credited to overwhelming consumer demand, ease of market penetration, lack of competition, or any of the normal things that propel most industries to success. In fact, just about every roadblock imaginable has been laid before this industry.

I have concluded that it’s pure passion. Passion for what we all believe to be for the greater good and passion for a cause has a profound effect on so many people living in rural communities and the country as a whole. So just below the surface of making a profit, there is an abiding sense of honor, pride and commitment that few other industries possess, or frankly even need to succeed.

I believe that without that sense of pride and passion, we would have long ago been simply another chapter in the energy history book. Instead, we’re making history, carving new innovative pathways to the world’s energy future. What began as a plan by President Carter to appease the public outrage over the Arab oil embargo, has become a national commitment that has spread globally. I doubt when President Carter called Archer Daniels Midland in 1977 and asked them to consider producing ethanol, he could have imagined what the real outcome of that call would be.

Those who have witnessed the grand opening of an ethanol plant and seen the pride well up in the eyes of farmers who struggled, sometimes for years, to find funding to build the plant, understand what I mean when I use the term passion. In the formative years of this industry, the decision to build wasn’t made in the boardroom on the 50th floor, it was made in the local cafe over coffee and donuts. It wasn’t a decision based on bottom line profits, it was a decision predicated on improving the lot of those in the community and building a future for the next generation to help keep them on the farm.

There are few industries indeed, that have survived and prospered solely on pride, passion and unyielding determination. Today’s ethanol industry stands as a monument to those people who had the vision, the commitment and, yes, the passion to forge ahead when the odds were so stacked against them.

As we enter a new era of public policy for this industry, I am confident that it will not only survive, but will prosper like never before and move to the next level of excellence. The billions of dollars that America’s ethanol industry pumps into the economy and the contribution it makes to energy security and the wellbeing of rural communities will never be overshadowed by a few self-serving naysayers. 

The Renewable Fuels Association’s National Ethanol Conference in Orlando, Fla., Feb. 22-24,will once again demonstrate to the world the vibrancy and passion of the ethanol industry. We’ll see you there.

That’s the way I see it!


Author: Mike Bryan
Chairman, BBI International