September 21, 2018

In This Week's Pellet Wire:

Our Brand Is Pellets

Frequent readers of my comments within Pellet Wire will remember that one of my earliest realizations upon taking over the role of executive director was the importance of the specialty hearth retail market for our producer members. Almost immediately I began reading trade publications like Hearth & Home magazine to help me better understand a market sector so important to us. In each issue, I’ve uncovered insights and new perspectives that are helping me understand this larger home-heating and entertainment puzzle and how we fit into it. The September issue is no different and lately, I’ve found myself going back to an interview with Jason Thompson, Director of Sales at Blaze Outdoor Products, a manufacturer of outdoor grilling products. In the article Thompson talks about the role these retailers play in educating customers about their products, recognizing of course that he and his sales team cannot be there to do the selling themselves. In the interview, he says, “They (specialty retailers) know their business and are the best representatives for our products.”

In his interview, Thompson echoes one of the most frequent conversations we’ve been having as an organization since I joined the team in January. For the PFI to make real progress towards our goal of establishing 100,000 units as the new floor for pellet heating appliance sales, we’re going to have to raise the bar in terms of our engagement with retailers who carry pellet appliances. The social media campaign that we launched this week is our first step down that path and already I’m pleased with what we’ve learned. Weeks before our first sponsored ads were delivered to consumers in our target markets, I found myself on a phone call that underscored my good feelings about our project. The conference call included me, a producer member of ours and one of his multi-location home and farm store customers. We were on the call to talk about that retailer’s business, how they drive store traffic and how our program could aid in his efforts to sell more products, in this case, more pellet appliances. This retailer was walking us through their marketing strategy and how he thought our program might contribute to a much bigger plan. It felt fresh. It felt strategic and it felt repeatable. 

As we move through the early stages of the 2018-19 heating season I’d like to ask all of you to pay close attention to the ways that your customers drive traffic to their locations. What role have they asked you to play in their efforts? Are your customers asking for support in a point-of-purchase capacity? Have they asked for vendor-sponsored content on their social media channels? Are they using TV spots? Direct mail efforts? Newspaper circulars? The more we can understand about how our retail partners market and sell heating appliances the better positioned we’ll be to amplify their efforts in our march towards Operation 100k.

- Tim Portz
Executive Director

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 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 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. 

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]. This photo, of Tim Portz with Joe O’Brien of Eastford Wood Fibres and Billy Hoskins of Easy Heat Wood Pellets, was taken this week at Northland Pallet in Hugo, Minnesota.  

Become a 2018 PFI Sponsor in  September

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 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.

Check out the Updated PFI Website


One of our goals at the Pellet Fuels Institute is to always make sure that we are providing valuable services to our members. For the past couple of months, we have been working on a membership database upgrade and website upgrade that will provide members and all web users with new features. Check it out today!

Industry News

Massena Wood Pellet Maker Expanding into Former Acco Site in Ogdensburg
Watertown Daily Times

Curran Renewable Energy, based in Massena, is buying the former ACCO Brands manufacturing property in the Ogdensburg area as part of a multimillion-dollar expansion expected to create 20 new jobs.

Patrick J. Curran has been working closely with the St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency and the Development Authority of the North Country in recent months to purchase approximately 28 acres of idle industrial land on the St. Lawrence River. The site includes a sprawling 143,000-square-foot former manufacturing building vacated by ACCO Brands in 2013 when the company moved and opened a larger distribution center in Ogdensburg.

The company’s former manufacturing and warehouse center, now being purchased by Mr. Curran, is just outside the Ogdensburg city limits in the town of Oswegatchie along more than 1,500 feet of St. Lawrence River shoreline.

On Thursday the St. Lawrence County IDA’s Local Development Corp. approved a $400,000 low-interest loan to North American Forest Group Inc., a branch of Mr. Curran’s Massena-based forestry business. That money will be paired with an additional $400,000 — half in the form of a loan and the other half a grant — from DANC.

Read Full Article

A B.C. Society Helps to Reforest Crown Land After Wildfires
Barriere Star Journal 

The importance of a healthy forest in preventing wildfires as well as rehabilitation following wildfires was the subject of a presentation at the Forest Nursery Association of BC conference in Salmon Arm on Tuesday, Sept. 18.

Steve Kozuki, executive director of the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC) reported on some of the initiatives the organization has funded including those focused on wildfire mitigation and the reforestation of B.C.’s forests.

He says FESBC has funded projects to mitigate and prevent future wildfires, along with projects that have focused on the reforestation of those areas impacted by wildfire.

“The projects we fund will reduce wildfire risk, rehabilitate damaged forests, improve forest carbon management to mitigate climate change, and enhance wildlife habitat,” he said.

Read Full Article

Neville-smith Forest Products Now Producing Hardwood Pellets 
The Examiner

The Mowbray business is converting timber off-cuts and sawdust from its hardwood products into wood pellets that can be used for heating.

Neville-Smith Forest Products chief executive Andrew Walker said the business was now converting all wastage.

“We’re now self-sufficient. Historically, a lot of our waste was going to landfill; now we’ve got nothing going to landfill and we’ve created a value-added product,” he said.

Until now there has not been enough pellets to supply the Tasmanian pellet fire market and they were imported from Geelong.

“One of the problems in the domestic market is that is hasn’t been able to grow because there hasn’t been enough pellets,” Mr. Walker said.

Read Full Article


Pellet Fuels Institute

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