4 minutes with… Mike Lewis, Co-Founder, Pearson Fuels

May 18, 2015 |

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

Pearson Fuels develops alternative fuel infrastructure at both the retail and terminal level and then concentrates on maximizing throughput of those assets.

We built the first retail E85 site on the West Coast and now distribute to over 60 E85 locations. We are also involved in biodiesel, CNG, EV and hydrogen infrastructure.

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

I run the company on a day to day basis, so I am very involved in developing both supply and customer relationships. We have just announced that we will be building 13 new E85 dispensers in the next 13 months. All of them will be in Southern California. It is our intention to build more than 13 but we don’t want to fall into that trap that is seen so often in this space of overpromising and under delivering.

Our other big emphasis in the coming year is to continue to expand our ability to import biofuels into California. We know there is a lot of progress being made on lowering the carbon intensity of fuels. We want to be the perfect partner to the Advanced BioEconomy by allowing advanced fuel producers to monetize their low CI by taking advantage of the California incentives to do just that.

Finally we want to smartly manage our growth. Our revenues doubled last year and will double again this year, so we continue to increase our ability to handle that level of business.

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

It seems to me the main milestone is to show profitable cellulosic plants operating and as-a-result the acceptance of that business model to ramp up cellulosic plant construction and conversions like we saw with corn ethanol a decade ago.

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

If I could fix one thing, I would fix the political instability and perpetual government policy debates. The oil industry is not faced with an annual discussion of the US Navy’s presence in the Persian Gulf like we face every year with the RFS and Low Carbon Fuel Standard. That is their subsidy, its just that no one in Congress calls it that.

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?  

I asked myself what has the biggest long term rewards in terms economics, environment and national security and the Advanced Bioeconomy wins all three hands down.

Where are you from? 

I was born in Huntington, West Virginia where we grew up fishing and hunting and in general enjoying the wild wonderful outdoors.

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

I studied Finance at the Ohio State University. It frankly was the only major university that I felt at the time was within my geographic and economic reach. It was there I finally started to think a little bigger about what could be accomplished in the world if you put your mind to it.

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?

My mentor has always been my business partner John McCallan. He is a successful self made businessman. He has shown me that you can be successful while showing everyone you work with dignity and respect. He shows me that doing the right thing always pays off in the long run and as corny as it sounds that honesty is the best policy.

Historically, Abraham Lincoln is my man. He showed the constitution to do what he knew was right in the face of massive opposition and at an almost unbearable cost

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

That things can always get better and the easiest way is not always the best way. I have also learned that a lot of people just fall apart.

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

I have been a scuba diver for over 30 years and have been lucky enough to dive in some of the most stunning locations all over the world. I also like long distance running, though you would never know it by looking at me. I have run a bunch of half marathons and two full marathons with another one planned this year.

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

How to Survive on a Deserted Island by Tom O’Shei

How to Survive on a Deserted Island by Samantha Bell

How to Survive on a Deserted Island by Jim Pipe

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

The Prize – by Daniel Yergin

National Geographic

Time Magazine

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

I love Amsterdam. It is just a cool old city, but Rome works too.

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Category: Million Minds

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