About Us

About Us

The Highland Approach

Since Highland’s inception, we have taken a best-in-class approach to everything we do. From the team we have formed to those proven and outstanding companies with which we have aligned our services, Highland has positioned itself to become an exceptional global supplier of sustainable wood pellets. We are a diverse group of professionals who share a commitment to excellence and success. At the core of our business is also an unwavering commitment to the places in which we are privileged to conduct business. Wood pellets offer an exciting opportunity to deliver sustainable, environmentally friendly power to the people and places who need and care about where their energy comes from.

Our Culture

We know our success is only defined by how well we treat the people we employ and the environments we touch. Highland has a deep set of core values that drives the way in which it conducts it daily business throughout all levels of the company. To all our stakeholders, customers and employees, we promise to act with respect, integrity, honesty and transparency. We strive to be good custodians of the lands where we source our fiber and provide a positive force of change in the places where we live and work, for generations to come.

Safety

Highland has an active and on-going program to build a culture of safety across the business. Every employee is accountable for the safety of the people around them. Every employee is empowered to enforce that all visitors follow the safety rules of the work place, including that all correct personal protective equipment is worn, hazards are observed and that all warning signs are always adhered to. All employees have the right to challenge any process that they deem to be unsafe. We strive to educate and nurture our employees to take pride and accountability in safety. Our focus on safety is maintained by avoiding complacency and reinforcing the importance of safe working practices through daily communication and training. Safety without compromise is our priority in all of our operations.

The Highland Approach

Since Highland’s inception, we have taken a best-in-class approach to everything we do. From the team we have formed to those proven and outstanding companies with which we have aligned our services, Highland has positioned itself to become an exceptional global supplier of sustainable wood pellets.

We are a diverse group of professionals who share a commitment to excellence and success. At the core of our business is also an unwavering commitment to the places in which we are privileged to conduct business. Wood pellets offer an exciting opportunity to deliver sustainable, environmentally friendly power to the people and places who need and care about where their energy comes from.

Our Culture

We know our success is only defined by how well we treat the people we employ and the environments we touch. Highland has a deep set of core values that drives the way in which it conducts it daily business throughout all levels of the company.

To all our stakeholders, customers and employees, we promise to act with respect, integrity, honesty and transparency. We strive to be good custodians of the lands where we source our fiber and provide a positive force of change in the places where we live and work, for generations to come.

Safety

Highland has an active and on-going program to build a culture of safety across the business. Every employee is accountable for the safety of the people around them. Every employee is empowered to enforce that all visitors follow the safety rules of the work place, including that all correct personal protective equipment is worn, hazards are observed and that all warning signs are always adhered to.

All employees have the right to challenge any process that they deem to be unsafe. We strive to educate and nurture our employees to take pride and accountability in safety. Our focus on safety is maintained by avoiding complacency and reinforcing the importance of safe working practices through daily communication and training. Safety without compromise is our priority in all of our operations.

Management Team

Thomas Reilley

Chairman & Co-Founder

Tom has more than 20 years of experience as an investor and entrepreneur. He started his career with Bear, Stearns and as a Senior Managing Director was transferred to London in 2002 to establish the wealth management division and serve as its executive director and as a member of the International Executive Committee. He left in 2007 to found Kalan Capital, an investment vehicle and private equity fund that developed the geothermal company Orka Energy into a key holding. He exited his stake in 2012 and returned to the U.S. where he continues to be an active investor. Mr. Reilley holds a B.A. in International Relations and Economics (University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, USA).

Rob McKenzie

Managing Director & Co-Founder

Having worked in the UK Wholesale Power Market for 16 years, Rob has considerable experience in both Renewable Energy and Energy Trading, with a proven track record in setting up new trading desks and developing new business opportunities. Rob has 10 years trading experience (Power, Gas and Carbon) including 6 years as a UK Power and Gas Trading Manager. Rob has a detailed understanding of all areas of the Biomass market, including origination, transportation, Power generation and a full understanding of market regulations. Rob started his career as an assistant Economist in the Energy Policy Analysis team of the Department of Trade & Industry before moving to Midlands Electricity as a commercial analyst and later Innogy to work on the emerging wholesale power market. He then joined Cinergy Global Trading in 1999 to set up their Power supply business, Power Trading desk and assist with development of their Renewable Trading desk. In 2004 Rob set up the UK Power and Gas Trading desk in London for Cargill PLC and continued to provide detailed commercial advice and analysis on the UK Renewable Market. During 2011 Rob worked on building a European Renewable Energy Business for Cargill PLC before leaving to join Highland in 2012.

Marty Goulet

Board Member

Mr. Goulet is the Chief Financial Officer of Wagner Construction. Based in International Falls, Minnesota, Wagner Construction is an underground utility and site development contractor with operations in Minnesota, North Dakota, Michigan, Arizona, Montana and Canada. Prior to joining Wagner Construction, Mr. Goulet spent 8 years in the Twin Cities managing banking relationships and providing financial services to companies with annual revenues of $20 million to $1 billion, including construction, manufacturing, wholesaling, and service-related industries. Mr. Goulet serves on the Board of Granite Falls Energy a publically reported company, Heron Lake BioEnergy a publically reported company, and KBB, LLC, a general contractor with operations in Minnesota and North Dakota. Mr. Goulet received his B.A. in Finance from Bemidji State University and his M.B.A. in Accounting from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul.

Kristina Drinkwine

Corporate Administrator

As the corporate administrator for Highland Pellets, Kristina coordinates the company’s operational activities. Kristina began her career in the classroom serving for six years as a high school social studies teacher. Kristina then transitioned into the nonprofit sector working as the director of business development at The Aspen Center for Autism and five years at Facing History and Ourselves’ Denver regional office. While at Facing History, Kristina served as the director of development and acting director, expanding the program’s fundraising efforts and reach. Kristina graduated from the University of New Hampshire with honors designation in history and matriculated into the graduate degree program in education where she earned her Master of Arts in Teaching.

Jeff Vanderpool

Chief Executive Officer

Jeff is a native of Pine Bluff and is deeply embedded in the community, he brings 35 years of high volume manufacturing experience to the Highland team. Working since 1990 for Luxembourg based Arcelor Mittal Steel and then Korean based Kiswire producing steel wire products for the tire industry has given Jeff more than 29 years of experience working in a global marketplace. Throughout his career Jeff has worked in all segments of large scale manufacturing operations, starting from front line supervision then moving into Quality Management finally transitioning into an Executive Management position from 2012 forward. He has participated in and managed numerous facility start-ups and optimization programs in Central and Eastern Europe, along with facilities in North America. Jeff’s experience and commitment to Operational Excellence will further strengthen Highland’s mission to be the leader going forward in the Biomass industry.

Gary Boone

Plant Manager

Gary has more than 25 years of experience in manufacturing and engineering operations. He brings a breadth of experience at the plant management level as well as the executive management level for high volume manufacturing operations. In the past, Gary has served in a plant management role within the Building Products Division of Georgia Pacific, General Dynamics SATCOM Technologies and Texas Instruments . Additionally he has served in an executive management role for several smaller, privately owned metal fabrication and tiny home manufacturers. Gary holds a BS degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Arkansas. He is also a certified Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma methods and a champion of Continuous Improvement practices.

Board of Advisors

Pat Bracken

Retired President & CEO – Ceres Global Ag Corp.

Patrick Bracken is the former President and CEO of Ceres Global Ag Corp. He was previously the President, CEO and board member of America for Bulgaria Foundation, a US$450 million philanthropic organization, and has worked in Bulgaria since September 2012. He also served as a board member of the Bulgarian American Enterprise Fund. Mr. Bracken is a former Cargill executive with extensive international experience. Joining Cargill in 1980, Mr. Bracken held several merchandising and management positions in the grain and energy sectors. From 2005 to 2012, based in Geneva, Switzerland, he was Vice President of Cargill International and Business Unit Leader of Cargill’s global coal business, expanding its activities to Asia, Africa and North America. From 2003 to 2005, Mr. Bracken was the Vice President and regional manager for the former Soviet Union with particular responsibility for Russia where Cargill was investing in several new initiatives. From 1995 to 2003, he was President, country manager and head of representation for Cargill’s activities in the Ukraine, with the responsibilities of general management, business development and expansion of Cargill’s grain and oilseed businesses. Prior to 1995, Mr. Bracken held several grain and energy trading positions in the United States and Switzerland. He is also a past member of the New York Mercantile Exchange’s Product Development Advisory Committee for Energy. Mr. Bracken holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Agricultural Economics from the University of Missouri.

Brett W. Duffy

Chief Financial Officer – Decisive Farming Corp.

Brett has over 20 years of experience in agriculture and energy business building and principal investing. Presently, Brett serves as CFO of Decisive Farming, a leading farm management solutions provider in North America. Previously, Brett was a co-founder of Pipeline Foods, a merchandiser and processor of organic and non-GMO food and feed ingredients. From 2012 to 2016, Brett worked as the corporate development & analytics officer for Select Milk Producers, a leading US dairy cooperative. From 2007 to 2011, Brett worked as an investment manager in Cargill’s Energy Enterprise with responsibilities for originating, structuring, and monitoring asset-based investments in the global renewable energy, coal, petroleum, natural gas, and power markets. From 2004 to 2007, Brett served as a founding director of Cargill’s Emerging Business Accelerator, a corporate investment fund focused on building new businesses across the agri-food supply chain. From 2002 to 2004, he served as a vice president with Adams, Harkness & Hill, an investment bank, with responsibilities for mergers & acquisitions and equity offerings in the renewable energy and consumer industries. From 1993 to 2000, Brett helped establish Cargill’s agribusiness operations in Eastern Europe and served as general manager of Cargill’s seed business in Russia. He also worked in Cargill’s grain business in Canada and assisted in the corporate divestiture of Cargill’s international and North American seed businesses. Brett received a B.A. from Carleton College in 1993 and an M.B.A. with distinction from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management in 2002. He is fluent in Russian.

Dennis Wagner

Chairman – Wagner Construction, Inc.

Mr. Wagner is the Chairman of Wagner Construction, Inc. based in International Falls, Minnesota, with operations in Canada, the Midwest, Southwest, and Southeast United States. Wagner Construction, along with its subsidiaries, provides services consisting of underground utility and heavy civil construction, demolition and land development, aggregate and rock quarries, ready-mix, and logging. Four decades in the industry have allowed Mr. Wagner to develop a diverse skillset of general management, project estimating, mergers and acquisitions, strategy, and operational excellence. Mr. Wagner served on the Board of Granite Falls Energy, a publicly reported company, and is currently the Mayor of Ranier, Minnesota.

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© 2016-19 Highland Pellets, LLC. All Rights Reserved.