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  • Writer's pictureRon Kotrba

Jobe receives inaugural Kenlon Johannes Pioneer Award for his years of biodiesel leadership

Jobe, left, and Rehagen

Former longtime National Biodiesel Board CEO Joe Jobe was honored in January as the first recipient of the new Kenlon Johannes Pioneer Award (formerly Eye on Biodiesel Pioneer Award) at the Virtual National Biodiesel Conference & Expo. Jobe was given the award by his successor, current NBB CEO, Donnell Rehagen.

Rehagen described how Jobe helped grow the NBB from 14 to more than 200 member companies and organizations during his tenure. He was the longest-serving CEO of the NBB since its inception in 1992 as the National SoyDiesel Development Board.

Jobe was a major, consequential force in development and commercialization of U.S. biodiesel. He helped integrate biodiesel into federal policy—most notably the Renewable Fuel Standard and the $1 per gallon blenders tax credit—and brought biodiesel into the national conversation. He worked to ensure biodiesel was included in the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard. He oversaw a changing industry, one that ballooned from niche circles to celebrity-backed success in just a few years—and all of the issues that came from this unbridled expansion.

He dealt with trade wars with Europe, delayed implementation of the second Renewable Fuel Standard, prolonged tax credit lapses, RIN fraud, devastating fuel quality concerns, the Goliath-like pushback from Big Oil, along with a host of other issues, and managed to always bring the U.S. biodiesel industry out better and stronger.

Jobe’s passionate conference speeches inspired tens of thousands of industry stakeholders over the years. The messages he gave, and the way he delivered them, were indelibly branded in the minds of many.

“The NBB thanks Joe for his many years of tireless efforts,” Rehagen said.

Jobe said the word “biodiesel” first made it into the dictionary in 2006, the same year “unibrow” and “drama queen” did too. “We fit right in,” Jobe said. “If it weren’t for Kenlon, there wouldn’t be an NBB or biodiesel industry.” He thanked all his former NBB colleagues, in particular Tom Verry and Alan Weber, along with his family (“Team Jobe”). “Their support, and sacrifice, was an important contribution to this industry,” Jobe said.

Jobe left NBB in 2016 and founded the consulting firm Rock House Advisors.


Johannes, after whom the award is named, is a pioneer in biodiesel who oversaw the Missouri Soybean Association in 1991 when the Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council made an initial investment into SoyDiesel research, which is widely understood to be the foundational roots of what we now know as the multibillion-gallon commercial U.S. biodiesel industry. Johannes served as the first executive director of the NBB. Most recently Johannes led the Kansas Soybean Association for years, and he will soon retire.

“It’s an honor to have the pioneer award named after me,” Johannes said. “I’ve always had soybean farmers to back me up with good insight.”

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