For Minnesota soybean farmers Pat Sullivan, Kris Folland and Craig Bangasser, the past year with the DieselSellerz has been surreal.
Not only were they part of a Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council effort to strike a partnership with the Dieselsellerz, they became part of filming for Discovery’s “Diesel Brothers” show.
On Tuesday, the three Minnesotans helped the brothers from the DieselSellerz unveil the long-awaited Minnesota biodiesel truck Tuesday at Commodity Classic in Anaheim, Calif.
Folland knew the truck would be special, but he wasn’t sure how special.
“Wow, they nailed it,” he said. “That’s what we all said. Honest and genuine. That was impressive. We wanted to keep it road legal so we could show it off in Minnesota, and bring attention to biodiesel and to B20. I thought, ‘Is it gonna be big enough?’ And yup, it’s everything we can dream of and more.”
Folland and Sullivan are current MSR&PC directors while Bangasser was part of the Council when the deal with the DieselSellerz was struck. Bangasser, who was passionate about biodiesel during his time with the Council, remembers the beginnings well.
“I think back to the goal of the project and how it started with a possible regional Super Bowl promotion,” he said. “I remember going through proposals on the Super Bowl and realizing that wasn’t for us. The goal was to promote and solidify support for B20 in Minnesota, and as a Council, we felt it would be a poor investment of checkoff dollars.”
Sullivan says the Council waited for the right project, making sure the dollars the board would invest would return a positive benefit for farmers. Sullivan points to the many benefits of the fuel – biodiesel adds 63 cents to a bushel, lowers prices of meal and gives farmers a viable market for the byproduct of soybean meal.
“Once we realized the Super Bowl wasn’t a good fit for us, we started throwing around ideas,” Sullivan said. “A couple Council directors suggested the idea of the getting the ‘Diesel Brothers’ to build a truck. Soon our team was working to get a contact and get ahold of these people.”
Sullivan said waiting for them to get back to the Council was one of the hardest parts.
“Once I heard we got an email back from them, the excitement level started,” he said. “Having them host Kris and Craig for a photoshoot with the brothers in Utah amplified the realness of the partnership, and then I saw the photo shoot from Utah and was stunned. We were really doing this partnership, and it was amazing.”
Folland, Sullivan and Bangasser have been involved in multiple filming sessions with the DieselSellerz, though because Discovery has been filming, can’t say much about the show. Regardless, all three did say they think Minnesota farmers are going to be really impressed, and each said they were confident the Council will shine the spotlight on biodiesel and show it to the nation as the tough fuel it is.
“For what started as an idea from a few Council members and staff, to turn into this, it is hard to imagine,” Folland said. “I don’t think anyone could have believed it would have been this amazing. And then to have get Discovery involved, how do you put a value on that? It’s invaluable.”
Despite a few downs mingled in with the many ups, Sullivan remained steadfast in his confidence in the project.
“I thought this was going to be successful off the bat because of the audience we could reach through just the people who follow DieselSellerz and the ‘Diesel Brothers,’” Sullivan said. “We wanted to reach mechanics, gear heads, fuel guys and people who maybe heard bits and pieces about biodiesel but didn’t know much about it, or were still thinking back to that one bad experience 15 years ago. We’ve definitely captured the attention of that crowd, and we’ve sparked a conversation.”
The Council now awaits delivery of the truck to Minnesota after it returns briefly to Utah to fine-tune a few things and wrap up some filming.