Member Spotlight : Christianson & Associates


This month, we spotlight Christianson & Associates, PLLP. We spoke to John Christianson, the founding partner at Christianson & Associates, about the firm’s history and its involvement with the ethanol industry.

John Christianson 1

John Christianson, founding partner

mbaLogo4aPlease tell us about Christianson & Associates.

John Christianson  croppedChristianson & Associates, PLLP (C&A) is a full service Certified Public Accounting firm established over 28 years ago, with offices in Willmar and Litchfield, MN. C&A has deep roots in the agricultural industry; the partners and many of the staff have farming backgrounds. Our clients include ag producers, cooperatives, ag elevators, ag supply companies, feed mills, ag processing, and renewable energy.

With a strong tradition of client service for the ag industry, C&A has grown by developing services and products based upon the needs of these clients. With over 50 staff members, C&A is ready to meet ag industry needs such as forecasting, development-stage accounting services, unique tax planning strategies, auditing, RIN consulting and attestation services, and other consulting services including performance analysis and government grant writing and consulting.

The firm has developed deep expertise in the EPA and regulator reporting for producers. C&A has had the opportunity to develop the Biofuels Benchmarking service, which is a confidential analytical tool and provides over 65 ethanol production facilities a means by which to compare themselves to their peers in the industry and query unique groups or time periods to run additional reports and graphs. The firm has also funded the development of a commodity processing software, “Intellego,” which is integrated with Microsoft Dynamic GP. Over 75 plants operate on the C&A platform which gives them maximum flexibility to monitor their operational and financial activity through a multitude or reports.

mbaLogo4aPlease tell us about Christianson & Associates’ role within the ethanol industry in Minnesota and why the company is committed to supporting the ethanol industry now and in the future?

John Christianson  croppedC&A has been fortunate to be involved from the early stages of the development and growth of the ethanol industry. Working with the early industry leaders and trade organizations for over 20 years, the firm had the opportunity to work on changing federal legislation related to tax credits in the ethanol industry. C&A has been committed to providing unique solutions for our clients to solve their needs. The deep roots of our ag backgrounds are demonstrated by our commitment to the ethanol industry. We support the industry through the trade organizations and support and participate in the industry events. Our goals is to be the financial resource to the industry with our products, services, and expertise.

mbaLogo4aFrom your perspective, what would you like consumers to know about the ethanol industry and the fuel it produces?

John Christianson  cropped

Consumers need to understand a number of things about ethanol:

1. Ethanol is not subsidized by the government like petroleum.

2. Ethanol will not cause our young men and women to be sent to war in the Middle East.

3. Ethanol is the cheapest octane in the market.

4. Ethanol reduces the price of gasoline for the consumer.

5. Ethanol is clean and reduces GHG emissions.

6. Ethanol improves our energy security by reducing oil imports required.

7. Ethanol creates jobs in rural areas where jobs are scarce.

8. The ethanol industry produces fuel and food.

mbaLogo4aWhat do you think is needed for the availability of E15 to grow?

John Christianson  croppedFor E15 to grow, consumers need to be educated and understand the impact ethanol has on the economy and environment. The work the industry is doing by developing the blender pump build-out will need to continue and expand. Ultimately the ethanol industry will need access to the market to allow the consumer to choose.  Members of the industry are confident that consumers will choose ethanol if they are educated and have access to the consumer choice of fuel blends.

mbaLogo4aWhat do you see as the ethanol industry’s biggest challenge?

John Christianson  croppedThe biggest challenge the industry faces is market demand.  We must have demand for ethanol in order for the industry to grow.  Demand will be created by consumer education and access to the market.  The blender pump build-out within the retail petroleum market is critical for access to the motor fuel market to be obtained.  Maintaining the status of the Renewable Fuels Standard II is important for short-term demand.  Long-term, ethanol will need to be sold as a less expensive high-quality octane source.

mbaLogo4aWhat does your company see for the future of ethanol and advanced biofuels?

John Christianson  croppedC&A hopes to assist the industry to grow beyond the E10 market.  We see the ethanol market evolving to higher blends beginning with E15 and eventually beyond.  In addition to higher blends in the market, the ethanol plants will continue to evolve into biorefineries that produce a wide range of renewable fuel and food products.  Many producers will have components of advanced biofuels as part of their product mix in the future.  I sincerely hope the ethanol industry will grow beyond the E10 levels we are producing now for the benefit of our country, economy, and future generations.