The Ontario Co-operative Association

The Ontario Co-operative Association

September 26, 2007 15:08 ET

Awarding Innovators for Greener Thinking

GUELPH, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Sept. 26, 2007) - Each year the Ontario Co-operative Association recognizes and honours individuals and/or companies for their outstanding efforts and innovative business practices that not only advance but also benefit the Co-operative movement throughout Ontario. This year, the Ontario Co-operative Association is proud to announce that a team of three individuals, Robert Sicard, Glen Perschbacher and Bob Peden, from UPI Energy LP ("UPI") will be awarded the Co-operative Innovator Spirit Award on October 17, 2007 at a Conference and Gala event taking place at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington, Ontario. The trio will be recognized for innovative thinking, which resulted in bringing Ethanol-blended gasolines to the retail market, with province-wide availability, well over a decade ago.

As the energy supplier of choice to the province's Agricultural Co-operative System, UPI began wholesaling Ethanol blends to the Agricultural Co-ops, which created a market niche and 'opened doors' for others to follow. GROWMARK, Inc. nominated Sicard, Perschbacher and Peden for this prestigious award acknowledging that the men "are co-operative innovators who, not only staked a claim for Agricultural Co-operatives in environmentally friendlier fuel alternatives, but continued to advance the cause." Bernie Daly, GROWMARK's Ontario Regional Manager, says that Sicard, Perschbacher and Peden popularized Ethanol blends when others were skeptical and reluctant to do so. "They helped make Ethanol-blended gasoline mainstream and promote Co-ops as its champion." According to Robert Sicard, President and Chief Executive Officer of UPI Energy LP, the road to success has not always been easy. UPI had to overcome various hurdles, gain consumer awareness and confidence to bring Ethanol-blended gasolines to the gas pumps.

Glen Perschbacher, who started as a Management Trainee at the Drayton Co-op in 1959, is no stranger to the Co-operative System. As the former Vice President of United Co-operatives of Ontario (UCO), Glen was instrumental in the formation of UPI Inc. in 1991, which was created to preserve low-cost petroleum distribution options for Ontario Agricultural Co-operatives. Glen is known as the "father of ethanol" for introducing the environmentally friendlier fuel to the province's Agricultural Co-operative system in 1987. Glen retired in 1996 but currently works as a consultant for UPI Energy LP evaluating new growth opportunities.

Bob Peden started his co-op career, more than 28 years ago, with Federated Co-operatives Ltd. in Western Canada and later joined UCO as a Petroleum Specialist. Now, in addition to his role as Vice President of Operations of UPI Energy LP, he continues to serve as the Chief Research and Development Officer for the company.

Bringing with him 19 years of experience in the oil industry, Robert Sicard took the reigns as UPI's first President and Chief Executive Officer in 1992, one year after its formation. Under Sicard's leadership, UPI has continued to introduce innovative product offerings, such as biodiesel, and related energy services that benefit both UPI and the Agricultural Co-operatives. Now as a 15-year veteran of the Co-operative system, he is credited with being a coach, a mentor and a leader. "The Co-ops are one of UPI's key success factors and have been a tremendous asset in placing UPI amongst the top three petroleum and propane suppliers to rural Ontario," comments Sicard. "By remaining true to our Co-operative roots and by providing, without compromise, the highest quality, environmentally friendlier energy products, UPI is poised for an even greater second decade of business."

Sicard and Peden continue in their endeavours to offer environmentally friendlier energy alternatives with the launch of E85, a blend of up to 85% ethanol and UPI's high quality unleaded gasoline, at two gas bar locations in Ontario. The two men also were involved in helping UPI Energy LP partner with a GROWMARK Member Co-operative in Chatham, AGRIS Co-operative Ltd., to complete a feasibility study and form a business plan for a new Soy Diesel plant.

UPI, a Joint Venture of Suncor Energy Products Inc. and GROWMARK, Inc., is a province-wide marketer of petroleum, propane, lubricants and related energy services to rural Ontario. Today, UPI is well known for its leadership and innovation in the marketing of Ethanol blends, an environmentally friendlier fuel, that uses ethanol made from Ontario grown corn. Motorists may choose a 'greener' alternative by purchasing Ethanol blends at over 60 UPI/FS Gas Bars across Ontario. Farmers may also choose environmentally friendlier fuels, such as biodiesel and Ethanol blends, for use on the farm through UPI's bulk fuel delivery or through their local Agricultural Co-operative.

The team of Robert Sicard of Conestogo, Ontario, Glen Perschbacher of Shanty Bay, Ontario, and Bob Peden of Guelph, Ontario will be presented with the Co-operative Innovator Spirit Award during the 9th annual Co-operative Spirit Recognition Awards banquet and ceremony. The award symbolizes the efforts of those that have contributed to a community through co-operative or credit union initiatives. As the crowning jewel of the Co-operative Conference and Gala, the awards ceremony takes place at the Royal Botanical Gardens, 680 Plains Road West in Burlington, Ontario.

The Co-operative Conference and Gala, now in its 7th year, is a two-day event that brings together co-op sector supporters, champions and friends from across Ontario and beyond for professional development, meetings and networking. The Conference includes tours of Hamilton-area co-ops and more than a dozen workshops and sessions. This October, the Spirit Recognition Award banquet, a tradition in the Ontario Co-operative sector for almost 10 years, will celebrate the successes of 10 of Ontario's most distinguished co-operators, including Robert Sicard, Glen Perschbacher and Bob Peden.

The Ontario Co-operative Association (On Co-op), host of the Co-op Conference and Gala, and the Co-operative Spirit Recognition Awards ceremony, is a resource and common voice for Ontario credit unions and co-operatives in the areas of co-operative development, government relations, membership and communications, and lifelong co-operative learning.

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