The Road Taken

Jim Hansen leads POET Nutrition toward edible energy.

As Chief Operating Officer of POET Nutrition, Hansen oversees marketing operations involved in developing Dakota Gold Distillers Grains with Solubles (DDGS), a globally demanded livestock feed, and leads the exceptional team that makes POET Nutrition a success.

“[Jim] sets the strategic vision [and] objectives for the team, coaches the team to understand the vision and objectives and leads the group on a day-to-day basis to ensure the objectives are effectively met,” says POET Nutrition Vice President of Transportation David Bertram.

“One of my greatest sources of job satisfaction, beyond seeing my team do well, is to look at issues strategically, bring the team members into the process, formulate a plan, get out of their way and watch them execute it. What a wonderful business feeling that is,” says Hansen.

While a master of strategy, Hansen exudes more than the ability to create blueprints for success.

“Jim is a model of who you hope your son or daughter would grow up to be,” says Clayton Vaughan, Director of Business Development for POET Nutrition. “If you could pick a boss, he’d be the one. People come to work for [Jim Hansen] because of what he stands for.”

With over 30 years of agriculture experience, colleagues peg Hansen as the natural choice for POET Nutrition’s COO.

“Based on his diverse wealth of past experiences, Jim has developed a vision of where the company is headed and has a corollary vision of the human technological resources required to get there. He works tirelessly to make sure that all the right pieces are in place, even when this means shouldering additional responsibilities himself rather than settle for the ‘quick solution,’” says Bertram.

“A visionary, Jim has an innate ability to look forward and see what is going to happen, then step back and form a plan only to do it all over again and again,” adds Vaughan.

To think that in his formative years Hansen nearly chose a different road seems incongruous to today’s Hansen. Raised in Salem, S.D. and Sioux City, Iowa as the grandson of a Danish emigrant and agriculture entrepreneur, a life in agriculture appealed least to Hansen.

“Growing up, the last thing I wanted to be in was agriculture as every night during the growing season, I’d hear my father say we’d had either too much rain or not enough,” Hansen recalls.

Fortunately for POET Nutrition, after a few years in retail management, Hansen armed with a bachelors degree in marketing from Morningside College realized his purpose, to follow his grandfather’s and father’s footsteps into the agriculture business.

Before joining POET Nutrition as COO, Hansen’s agriculture career began as Commercial Manager at Bunge Corporation, an international grain company headquartered in New York City.

Next, Hansen became a Vice President for ConAgra Poultry where his role took him overseas to Portugal, Spain, Puerto Rico and Mexico. After serving Minnesota based Land O’Lakes, Inc. both state side and in Poland, Hansen joined California based Bioproducts, a Mitsui company, as General Manager rounding out his experience based education before taking the helm at POET Nutrition as COO.

However, for Hansen the road begins “with a family, who supported me, along with my Christian faith, followed by mentors: the President of ConAgra Poultry, who trusted me with a great deal of responsibility at a very young age and the Executive Vice President of Bioproducts, who had faith enough in me to run two businesses.”

Colleague, Eric Heismeyer, POET Nutrition’s Director of Merchandising, lauds Hansen as a caring leader, who encourages employee creativity and energy with a passionate approach.

Hansen recognizes and celebrates the true measure of his success, his team.

“My employees are the engine that drives the bus,” Hansen exclaims. “can be only as good as the people on [my] team. They contribute to the success of the business and also contribute to the human emotion of gratification; seeing them be successful is very gratifying. POET has the best people in our industry, and I’m proud to be a small part of it.”


POET Nutrition produces Dakota Gold Dried Distillers Grains with Solubles (DDGS), one of the greater achievements in biorefining. Dakota Gold’s higher nutritional value enables livestock producers to raise better performing, healthier livestock at a higher economic value than conventionally produced DDGS. Not to mention, POET Nutrition continues to uphold POET’s mission of renewable energy by producing DDGS as an ethanol co-product. Hansen agrees, from ethanol energy to edible energy, at POET Nutrition, little is lost.

“[POET Nutrition] brings a high quality, cost effective feed to the world’s [livestock] producers as a result of [POET's ethanol] emphasis. POET Nutrition has the only branded commodity product in our industry because of a focus on quality. People from Asia know Dakota Gold [DDGS]. We are the only company with a dedicated animal nutrition research arm. It’s more than marketing. It’s delivering a high value product every time,” Hansen explains. “People may not know POET Nutrition, but they know Dakota Gold.”

For Hansen, POET Nutrition’s attention to quality excites him to his every day duties of expanding products worldwide and capitalizing on opportunities for POET biorefining plants to maximize their returns.

But at the end of the day, it is POET’s culture and people that fulfill.

“[POET] is a well run business with a sense of family. Everyone is part of the same team. We check our egos at the door,” Hansen proclaims. “The morals of the people I work with side by side have been second to none.”

To Hansen, the end of the road that has lead to POET Nutrition is simple, “I want my team of people to succeed above all else. If our team succeeds so will the business.”




Vital is a news & media resource published by POET, presenting a variety of stories with the thought leadership one expects from the largest, most forward-thinking bioethanol producer.