Former NBB CEO Joe Jobe launches new business consulting firm

By Ron Kotrba | May 25, 2016

For a generation, Joe Jobe, the former CEO of the National Biodiesel Board, has fostered the U.S. biodiesel industry from its fledgling infancy to bountiful maturation. When Jobe unexpectedly left the organization in early May, the collective voice of the industry asked “Why?” and “What will he do next?” Three weeks later, Jobe sat down with Biodiesel Magazine to discuss the next chapter of his life, “Act III” as he calls it.

The scene for Act I of Jobe’s professional career took place in the Missouri Attorney General’s Office where he was a fraud investigator, experience that came in handy more than a decade later in the second half of Act II as biodiesel RIN fraud cases were exposed and the industry was forced to develop quality management plans to ensure its legitimacy in the critical eyes of regulators and the public. This was just one example of the perseverance Jobe displayed as head of the NBB.

Much of his career at the organization was spent fighting what have often seemed like uphill battles for continued market growth through the renewable fuel standard (RFS), policy continuity for the tax credit, truth to balance lies told by the Goliaths of Big Oil and Big Food, sound—rather than junk—science, fairness in international trade wars, and the propagation of knowledge over misconceptions and myths that continuously find a way back into the limelight. Under Jobe’s leadership, the U.S. biodiesel industry was improved on all fronts, from the technical side securing and improving ASTM standards, fuel quality programs and specifications, to market growth through OEM partnerships and oilheat collaborations.

Since his departure from the NBB, Jobe told Biodiesel Magazine he has had a full schedule. On May 25 he was headed to Chicago to attend the 2016 Biodiesel & Feedstock Conference organized by The Jacobsen.

Jobe has started a new company, a business consulting firm called Rock House Advisors LLC, which Jobe said will encompass biodiesel and renewable energy work, but also much more. “The prospects are wide open,” Jobe said. Based in Jefferson City, Missouri, Jobe said the scope of Rock House Advisors is national, if not international, and the firm has a growing network of associates and strategic partners.

The development of Rock House Advisors has been in the conceptual phase for more than a year now. “Time has come for me to do something else,” he said. “Spending 17 years as the CEO of a trade group like the NBB is about two times longer than the average lifespan of a trade organization CEO. But I couldn’t leave last year right in the middle of the fight. With what we have accomplished—getting three years of [biomass-based diesel] RVOs and two years of the tax credit—it was really quite an extraordinary year. Now, the U.S. biodiesel industry is fairly well positioned. It’s got a solid precedent of five years of growth. The tax credit is back, and it looks favorable for extending it into the future. The industry is as strong and stable as it’s ever been. This industry is here to stay—and grow. So it was time I looked at moving on.”

There is no shortage of pioneering industry leaders wishing Jobe well and offering kind words about his world-class leadership. “Nobody has fought harder or pushed longer for the commercialization of biodiesel than Joe has,” said Gene Gebolys, CEO of World Energy. “When he took the reins at NBB, we were a small handful of farmers and industry pioneers trying to band together to start a new industry. Twenty years later, biomass-based diesel is the shining star of the federal policy designed to transform America away from our dependency on fossil fuels and Joe has been at the forefront of the effort every step of the way. He has accomplished far more than most could hope to in a lifetime, but I have no doubt there’s much more to come.”

John Campbell, the managing director of Ocean Park Advisors and former senior vice president of AGP Biofuels Division, said, “It is no small task to take a totally new transportation fuel, highly dependent on government policy support, to a skeptical marketplace. I am convinced that private industry could not have been successful without the adroit support of the National Biodiesel Board and the leadership of CEO Joe Jobe. Joe has been tireless in his efforts to keep the industry together through some very rough times and has built a robust trade association almost from scratch. He deserves a lot of the credit for bringing us to the point of supplying almost 5 percent of the diesel fuel market.” 

Jobe said one of the first actions he took upon becoming CEO of the NBB in 1999 was driving up to Seargent Bluff, Iowa, to tour the AGP plant and talk with Campbell. This year marks the 20-year anniversary of the building of this facility, which Jobe said was the first biodiesel plant in the country, established under Campbell’s leadership in 1996.  

“I have known and worked with Joe Jobe for over 20 years,” said Krysta Harden, former Deputy Secretary of USDA. “His dynamic personality, hard-driving work ethic and vision for the renewable fuels and energy markets assures his success in his new endeavors. I am excited for the ag and energy industries to have someone with Joe’s talent working to solve problems and creating new opportunities.”

Jobe’s stellar track record in leading NBB is no doubt appealing to his potential clientele. “They tell me that’s why they’re interested in working with me,” he said. “Those skills can translate to most, if not all, organizations. The organizational skills of leading, helping their organizations do that with a vision, action and execution. That’s my strength. I have a knack for that and I am confident in my abilities. I’m a good communicator, writer, speaker, persuader, and advocate. And I am authentic.”

The name of Jobe’s new consulting firm, Rock House Advisors, has a personal touch too. Jobe grew up on a farm in Central Missouri, and about a half-mile away is located the Rock House Bridge, where Jobe spent much of his youth shooting BBs into the Moreau River and figuring out life. As his new website (www.rockhouseadvisorsllc.com) states, Rock House Bridge represents to Jobe a calm strength, presiding wisdom, unbreakable resolve, steel integrity and grounded honesty.

“Joe has brought insight, purpose and strategic vision to the industries he has led, including the biodiesel industry, so that they achieve truly amazing results,” said Steve Censky, CEO of the American Soybean Association. “He’s a great communicator, has a keen wit, and wonderful sense of humor. Best of all, he is a collaborative leader who builds relationships based on trust and shared values. I’m confident that all these skills will allow Joe to serve his clients well and help them achieve amazing results too.”