4 minutes with… Thomas H. Arrington III, Chairman, Tidewater Biodiesel

January 26, 2015 |

imgresTell us about your company and it’s role in the Advanced Bioeconomy.

TIDEWATER BIODIESEL will play a major role in the Mid Atlantic Region as our logistical position is amongst several large entities who are keen on using biodiesel fuel for their operations. We are not only focused on the financial rewards, but also on putting local people and small businesses thriving towards a better local economy.

Tell us about your role and what you are focused on in the next 12 months.

Our first goal is to prove to our local government that we can achieve what City Council and Planning Commission willingly approved us to do; which is to finalize our financing and continue to utilize local engineers to complete all phases of permitting, and gather information from capable local contractors as we prepare for construction.

Our second priority is to solidify feedstock supply relations with suppliers who are able to provide various different high quality feedstock with limited lead time. This is crucial as our plant will interchange feedstock use according to market prices without compromising on end product fuel quality. Our final goal would be to invite major buyers to tour our facility and visit our onsite lab, so they can see that we are capable and supportive in delivering a quality fuel to their organization. This we hope, will result in long -term purchasing contracts with large local end users and fuel distributors; which promotes cleaner air to breathe.

What do you feel are the most important milestones the industry must achieve in the next 5 years?  

I think the number one milestone is to get our Federal government to support this industry with the same vigor used in the petroleum industry. Our industry must also focus on its delivery logistics, more fueling stations offering biodiesel, or even stand alone stations offering various biodiesel blends only. The vehicles are being made.

If you could snap your fingers and change one thing about the Advanced Bioeconomy, what would you change? 

First I would change the political instability that’s caused by “pay to play” legislation that deters new industry and ideas to flourish. Our project was local government approved three years ago and we’re on our third investment group who seems more forward moving than the previous two. This causes massive delay to projects funding.

Of all the reasons that influenced you to join the Advanced Bioeconomy industry, what single reason stands out for you as still being compelling and important to you?  

See little kids suffering with asthma and other respiratory illnesses that are elevated by the amounts of toxicities coal, oil and other types of dirty burning fuels cause. If we cannot leave a stronger financial future for our children as country, we should at least be able to leave them clean air to breathe.

Where are you from? 

I was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. and my dad moved us to Laurelton, Queens when I was six years old. I enjoyed living in Brooklyn and on hot summer days, cooling off in the street with the fire hydrant dousing us with water. Stick ball, skell lee, punch ball, baseball, football, basketball; I played them all, no video game couch potatoes back then.

What was your undergraduate major in college, and where did you attend? Why did you choose that school and that pathway?

I attended Queens College and University of Phoenix much later and studied Business Management. Always wanted to own a major energy company or any company that focused on energy, or energy transportation and infrastructure. Just discussing energy policy or energy market volatility stimulates my mind. I really enjoy the energy industry.

Who do you consider your mentors – could be personal, business, or just people you have read about and admire. What have you learned from them?

Number one is my dad. Thomas H. Arrington Jr. who we lost last year due to pancreatic cancer. He taught me what family means and how to be a supportive man. He taught me how to use tools, cut pipe and various other hands on skills that younger boys today are lacking. He was proud of all my past accomplishments and future endeavors, he was the true example of daddy and father.

Number two is Robert Catell, former CEO of Brooklyn Union Gas Co. and KeySpan Energy. He started out with a vision to become the largest energy company in the Northeast; he saw the pieces in Boston and Long Island, purchased them, put all together and accomplished his goal. It was a masterpiece. I enjoyed working for him, a real “man’s man”.

Number three is an odd one. Anthony Bourdain. I love cooking and trying new foods. This special fellow gets to travel the world, meet the worlds best chefs, dine in the worlds most finest restaurants, and gets paid very well to do so. Imagine that.

What’s the biggest lesson you ever learned during a period of adversity?  

I lost my ability to walk seven years ago due to Facioscapulahumoral Muscular Dystrophy. I have learned to appreciate the little things in life. People take for granted the ability to walk, run, or use their limbs in a normal manner.

Being in therapy over the years with disabled veterans and disabled children who have smiles on their faces and exude vibrancy of life, has made me more acceptive to my situation. I have become more sensative and more phinthropic to certain causes that “hit home” to me.

Understanding that no one asks to be disabled, but God places you in certain situations to bring out the best quality of humanity within you. There are things I do now, that most likely I might not spend so much time doing such as, fundraising with MDA or srving on committees that advocate for disabled people on solving mobility issues or lack there of.

I have four healthy boys and I can enjoy watching them play sports, knowing they are without this issue. Thanks be to God.

What hobbies do you pursue, away from your work in the industry?  

I love fine dining and trying various wines from different regions of the world. It’s amazing how a chef can pair a wine that enhances their food and it works.

I am a classic car junkie. I just sold my 71 Nova SS, and my 68′ Impala SS convt. Nothing like driving a classic with top down on country back roads listening to classic Eric Clapton.

What are 3 books you’d want to have with you, if you were stranded on a desert island

The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene, I enjoy comparing his ideas against actual situations I encounter.

32 Ways to Be a Champion in Business by Earvin “Magic” Johnson, This is a unique book that motivates anyone who thinks they can’t achieve it.

Darrell Gwynn: Triumphs and Tragedies from a Life Lived at Speed, Title says it all.

What books or articles are on your reading list right now, or you just completed and really enjoyed?  

A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

Sons of Wichita: How the Koch Brothers Became America’s Most Powerful and Private Dynasty by Daniel Schulman

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

What’s your favorite city or place to visit, for a holiday?  

NEW YORK CITY hands down. Roasted chestnuts sold on the street corners, ice skating in Rockefeller Center, shopping in Macy’s and FAO Schwartz, the spirit of holiday cheer is everywhere. New Yorkers true humanity qualities come during tragedies and holidays. New York City remains in my heart and soul forever.

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Category: Million Minds

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