August 10, 2018

In This Week's Pellet Wire:

Executive Director's Notes, August 10th

In 60 days we'll be squarely into October, experiencing average daily low temperatures around 20 degrees cooler than August's for most of the country. Where I am, October's average daily low temperature is 39 degrees. Same with Burlington, Vermont. In Hershey, Pennsylvania, the site of next year's Pellet Fuels Institute Annual Conference, the average low is 40 degrees.  Bring it on. The earlier the better. The 2018-19 heating season is upon us and after speaking with a number of our members, it is clear that retailers are building their fall inventory. I wish you all good fortune in the run up to this season. Here is what's been happening at the PFI recently:

BBQ Caucus - Last week our BBQ Caucus held its inaugural conference call. The call was well attended and in preparation I asked for everyone to bring to the call an item for discussion that for them was the most important thing for the PFI to focus on relative to the BBQ opportunity. For me, our ability to leverage the current popularity of wood pellets as a BBQ fuel to raise consumer awareness of all of the things wood pellets can be used for is paramount. Other members of the caucus identified membership, exposure at BBQ competitions and alignment with BBQ associations, truth in labeling and a page on the PFI website as their top issue. The BBQ Caucus will convene again in September and October with a goal of presenting a strategy and approach to the BBQ market to the board at the fall board meeting.

Social Media Beta Test Reminder - The sign-up portal for this fall's Social Media Beta Test is now open. As a reminder, the cost to sponsor a retailer is $1,500. Your sponsorship will include the development and delivery of promotional messages intended to raise consumer awareness and interest in wood pellets as a heating fuel. These messages will be delivered to a target audience inside of your retailer's marketplace and drive those consumers to your customer's website, Facebook profile and/or Instagram feeds. Our organizational goal is to generate 250,000 pro wood pellet impressions across 10 different markets this heating season. With a fully subscribed beta test, we are confident that can happen. We are not able to accommodate more than 10 participants this year so sign up now. To sign up, simply click here.

Board Meeting Set - The PFI fall board meeting will be held November 1-2 in Indianapolis. A big thanks to the board for working with me to find a date that worked for nearly everyone. We thought we would give Indianapolis a chance because of its proximity to a good share of our board and our members. The board meeting also allows us to look seriously at a new city as a potential site for an upcoming PFI conference. We've got an ambitious agenda and some important conversations planned and Don Wagner and I are already at work on an agenda that will allow us to get everything accomplished that we need to.

Social Media Beta Test FAQs

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 receptive pellet fuels audiences while promoting the pellet option. Messages the 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 ambience 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 new social media users who may not be aware of the heating with wood pellets. 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 - 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.

Important Dates:

July 27 - Registration Opens

August 8 - Participant Webinar

August 20 - Beta test begins

December 20 - Beta test ends

Send Us Photos!

We're building a collection of photos of our members, their pellets mills and product. Send them to Carrie Annand at [email protected]. In honor of the first meeting of the PFI BBQ Caucus, this week's featured photo shows Executive Director Tim Portz grilling with pellets. 

Become a 2018 PFI Sponsor in August

Don't miss the opportunity to sponsor PFI to reap the benefits for the rest of the year! Sponsorship at all levels brings many perks, along with exposure for your company to the pellet fuels industry. By signing up to sponsor the association early in 2018, you will reap the benefits throughout the coming year. 

The 2018 sponsorship packages options include benefits such as:

  • Company logo listed on the PFI website
  • Weekly newsletter advertising
  • Website advertising
  • And more!

PFI's membership list includes more than 100 companies, and the Pellet Wire, our electronic newsletter, is sent to close to 2,000 subscribers every week. Now is the time to become a sponsor of this organization. Visit our website to explore how you can become involved.

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.

Industry News

OMB Reviews Rule to Amend 2015 Residential Wood Heater Regulation 
Biomass Magazine

On Aug. 3, the U.S. EPA delivered a proposed rule to the White House Office of Management and Budget that aims to amend a 2015 rule that set performance standards for new residential wood heaters, hydronic heaters and forced-air furnaces that would allow retailers additional time to sell older appliances. OMB review marks a final step before a proposals is released for public comment.

Information published to the OBM website indicates that the EPA finalized a rule in February 2015 that made revisions to new source performance standards (NSPS) for new residential wood heaters. The rule updated 1988 NSPS to reflect advancements in wood heater technologies and design. It also broadened the range of residential wood-heating applications covered by the regulation. 

The 2015 rule requires manufacturers to redesign wood heaters to be cleaner and lower emitting. These improvements also make the heaters perform better and increase efficiency. The action applied to adjustable burn rate wood heaters, pellet stoves, single burn rate wood heaters, outdoor hydronic heaters, indoor hydronic heaters, wood-fired forced air furnaces, and masonry heaters.

Read Full Article

The Opportunity in Modern Wood Heat  
Biomass Magazine

I love working at an organization where the boss wrote a blog titled “Eat Kale, Use Wood.” 

The recent blog, by Northern Forest Center President Rob Riley, focused on why people have embraced the idea that eating more kale sustains local farms, but haven’t yet realized it is just as important to use forest products to support our local forests.

This is a message we work with every day at the center. We’re driven by our mission to build economic vitality and community well-being based on sound forest stewardship across the Northern Forest.  We are a nonprofit organization serving a 30 million-acre region that stretches from Lake Ontario to the Atlantic across northern New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. 

Our programs support many elements of the forest-based economy, from wood products manufacturing to destination development to community forests. Across all programs, we measure impact based on jobs supported, acres conserved for community benefit, and dollars invested in projects that benefit the region’s communities, the economy and forest stewardship. At last tally, we had benefited 4,951 jobs, helped conserve 255,562 acres, and secured and leveraged $199 million for the region’s benefit.

Read Full Article

The Best Pellet Smokers to Elevate Your Meat Game 
Popular Mechanics

Pellet smokers have surged in popularity because of their ease of use and tasty results. Our favorite pellet smokers include those intended for novice and for experienced grill masters. With a bit of prep and patience, each one of them can deliver a delicious meal.

Read Full Article


Pellet Fuels Institute

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