Pacific Ethanol inspires its employees to give back

By Matt Thompson | October 04, 2018

For Wayne Rylant, human resources manager at Pacific Ethanol, producing renewable fuel is just a small part of what Pacific Ethanol does. He’s proud of the company’s community service efforts and the company’s 554 employees have embraced those efforts.

Three years ago, Rylant helped launch an annual company-wide food drive, donating 4,638 pounds of food to local food banks, food pantries and other charities in the communities where Pacific Ethanol has a presence. This year, the company is poised to donate 22,139 pounds. “So for the third straight year we’re up,” Rylant said.

Numbers are up because of the employees, he said. They find innovate ways to bring in more food year after year. “Our corporate office is in the Wells Fargo building in downtown Sacramento. We actually had a couple of employees who went and talked to the management of the Wells Fargo building this year, and they sent out the newsletter to 30 floors of tenants saying, ‘Hey, Pacific Ethanol’s having a food drive. They’ll come pick up your [donations] if you bring them in,’” Rylant said. He added that one plant even received more than 600 pounds from the local farmers’ co-op, and many locations received donations from truck drivers.

Rylant said the company accepted both food and monetary donations for charities. In the past, money had been used to buy nonperishable food, but this year will simply be given to the charities. “I had asked them [the food banks] the question, … ‘What’s a dollar worth in terms of a cash donation?’ I said it seems kind of weird that we would take cash donations from employees and truck drivers and everybody else who’s donating to the cause, and then go buy retail cans to get to you. Doesn’t make a lot of sense, because I’m sure you can stretch those dollars further than we can,” he said. Working with the food banks, Rylant said they determined that one dollar was equal to 2.5 pounds of food.

And the benefits go beyond helping local charities. Rylant said he’s received comments from employees about the company’s community service program. “It’s a reason to get your employees to come to work every day besides a job and a paycheck,” he said.