Expansion Plans

For this northern California producer, business is good
By Luke Geiver | January 18, 2012

Kumar Plocher, CEO and founder of Yokayo Biofuels Inc., a small 500,000 gallon per year biodiesel facility in Northern California, is not only confident in his long-term business plan, he’s excited. His plan features feedstock acquisition, infrastructure enhancement and new hires, and the five-year overall growth outlook is not linked to any sort of biodiesel tax incentive. But it doesn’t hurt that Plocher and his team were recent recipients of a $24,000 USDA Bioenergy payment for advanced biofuels producers. “It’s definitely going to help us expand,” Plocher says, admitting that Yokayo’s expansion efforts started earlier in 2011. “In the past year we’ve grown our staff tremendously,” he adds. “We went from 10 employees last year to 18 right now and I can see us adding another five or 10 in the next year.”

The eight additional employees might not seem important, but the expansion at Yokayo Biofuels has drawn the attention of U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif. “Yokayo Biofuels is a model of how green businesses can grow our economy,” Thompson said after Yokayo received the USDA funding.

With added employees, Plocher’s plans for 2012 involve hiring new drivers for waste vegetable oil collection and installing more efficient processing equipment. “We are looking at getting beyond some of the older types of processes,” he says. And the combination of new technology at his Ukiah, Calif., facility, additional feedstock supply possibilities and more employees are all contributing to his excitement about the new year. “It’s a good time for us to be getting exposure,” he says of local press and Thompson’s recognition of their award. Plocher’s not worried about life without an incentive: he’s focused on the business of biodiesel, securing feedstock and producing gallons, hiring extra drivers and installing new, more efficient technology. Last year was a productive and economically positive year for biodiesel, as Plocher’s story exemplifies. If everyone else in the industry approaches 2012 with the same excitement as he, 2012 will be business as usual.

—Luke Geiver

 
 
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