Change brewing in Chico
Green investor sees upside in biodiesel processors
Perhaps it’s apt that AGR Energy now is SpringBoard Biodiesel, since its new owner leaves a background in finance and investment for the burgeoning business of alternative fuels.
Mark Roberts completed the purchase of the company, which makes biodiesel processors, last week. The AGR sign will remain on the Ivy Street facility for the time being, but a key change takes place today (May 1) when www.springboardbiodiesel.com supplants www.agrenergy.com.
Roberts, from Marin County, said he was casting a wide net for sustainable, renewable-energy investments when he “stumbled on this by luck.” He saw great potential for growth in the company, founded a dozen years ago by three Chico State graduates who just began selling their processors in 2007.
SpringBoard has just a handful of employees, but “we’re going to be hiring,” Roberts said, following consecutive months of increased sales.
Indeed, not only is he learning on the fly, he’s running to keep up with the demand. Sounding out of breath on a phone call between orders, he said, “Yea, I can talk to you, but it has to be after 5 o’clock.” At the end of a long day, Roberts explained that biodiesel processors are part of a “clean and green additive technology that should act as part of a whole portfolio of renewable and sustainable energy options.”
The fact that 90 percent of the company’s customers divert oil and grease from waste streams is an immediate payoff.
“I’m busy and excited at the same time,” he said. “We are filling orders all over the United States and internationally. We are shipping to Australia, Canada and New Zealand. March was a record month for orders, April was a record month for orders, and it looks like May will be the same.”
SpringBoard Biodiesel offers three processors. All take 48 hours to complete a full batch of fuel.
The biggest is the BioPro 380, which produces 100 gallons of biodiesel at a time. It is also the most expensive at $12,995. The BioPro 190 produces 50 gallons per batch and costs $8,395. The newest model is the BioPro 150 (40 gallons, $5,995).
All three are made of stainless steel with components of the same industrial grade, manufactured to meet ASTM International standards. Roberts said the company is developing new products it hopes to release within the year.