Bio-diesel is a hot topic and David Fraser wants to make it hotter. Recently hired by Delta King Seed to help expand the knowledge base about the fuel, Fraser is the company's “ambassador of bio-fuel.”
“We're not going to move the consumption needle a whole lot in just a couple of months,” the Memphis-based Fraser said at the Arkansas Soybean Association annual meeting in Brinkley, Ark.
“But we can build an educated base: local civic groups, schools, wherever a broader audience is…I'll be educating farmers to use it more on-farm, to educate legislators, fleet operators, whatever might help to expand this business for your crop.
With all the problems with fossil fuel, we have a perfect opportunity. We need to spread the word.”
Fraser said many already know of Noal Lawhon, who runs Delta King, the largest privately held soybean seed company in the country.
“Delta King isn't a manufacturer of bio-diesel but…Noal is a passionate person. He got interested in bio-diesel — soydiesel especially — and said, ‘You know, we're a soybean seed company selling seed to bean farmers. We need to go downstream. We need to find a way to market these beans.’”
As Lawhon looked at bio-diesel closely, he became increasingly fascinated by its potential. “He thought, ‘This really makes a lot of sense.’ So, that's how he got into it.”
Five years ago, the entire Delta King delivery fleet switched over to soydiesel. Just last September, the pickups of all Delta King sales reps were equipped with tanks mounted in the back.
“Obviously, there aren't a lot of (bio-diesel) pumps around the country that they can get a fuel blend from. Using the tanks, they can blend their own on the road. Noal's vision was, ‘If we're going to preach and believe this, we have to do it ourselves. Make the switch.’”
In a bid to further open discussion about bio-diesel further, last October Delta King announced a college scholarship contest.
“(The scholarship contest) helps young people understand the energy crisis in this country. Bio-diesel is an alternative and it's readily available. We already know U.S. agriculture can feed the world. Our hypothesis is producers can power the world too.”
Lawhon has been busy with bio-fuel in other ways. Last November, he became an investor in Patriot Biofuels, a company that will soon open a plant in Stuttgart, Ark. “This is another aspect to carrying his vision further. Lawhon wants to create more demand for the U.S. soybean crop, the Mid-South in particular.”
Fraser was part of a recent Webinar presented by the Mid-South Clean Fuels Coalition. Instead of having to fly people into a central location to have a meeting that costs a lot while not guaranteeing a large audience, Fraser and others instead made use the Web. Participants were be able to go to their computers and click on a link.
“With their phones used for the audio portion, the (Web) audience was able to participate in a full-blown seminar. Powerpoint presentations were given just as (if at a regular conference). The first Webinar — for both U.S. and Mid-South state congressional reps — lasted about an hour.”
Fraser is keen to reach congressional staff members, especially those involved with legislative and energy matters. “As legislation moves through, we want them to have a basic understanding (of bio-diesel issues).”
On March 8, another Webinar will be conducted for fleet operators. Fraser will target metropolitan transit authorities, public works departments and school districts. “All of this is to make them aware of soy diesel potential, to encourage usage and impart facts and (dispatch) myths.
“Part of the ultimate goal is also to connect distributors with customers. So as I'm traveling with Delta King sales staff doing grower presentations, anyone who's interested could be hooked up with the nearest bio-diesel supplier. If anyone has an interest in a group presentation — civic, Rotary, whatever — give me a call.”
To reach Fraser, call (901) 854-4321, (901) 674-1793, or e-mail [email protected].