206 www. bus- ex. com JANUARY 10 thepower of Corn two to It's the first company in the country using corn to produce food products and fuel in the same complex. April Terreri talks to the president of Plymouth Oil and Plymouth Energy to learn more
Plymouth Oil LLC JANUARY 10 www. bus- ex. com 207 D eep in America's heartland, two sister companies are leading the charge in developing innovative technologies utilizing the region's abundant natural resource: corn. During the second week of December, Plymouth Oil LLC went online in Merrill, Iowa, to produce food- grade corn oil and livestock feed. Plymouth Oil will use the portion of the corn kernel that does not contribute to the ethanol- making process that sister company Plymouth Energy LLC employs on the same 98- acre complex housing both companies' facilities. " Plymouth Oil is the first company in the country operating a food- grade oil-processing facility next to an ethanol- producing plant," notes David Hoffman, president and CEO. " We're the first company to take the ethanol process a step further to actually make food products from the No. 2 yellow corn that historically is used to produce fuel." The synergy between the two companies is deliberate. " Our vision was to have one company overseeing both operations," explains Hoffman. But when Hoffman visited the local bank to work out loan arrangements, the bank made it clear that it couldn't help without 100 percent equity. " At that point we decided to develop the companies into two separate entities. We had an equity drive for Plymouth Oil, and since then we've been trying to secure a term loan; so we still have some lending issues to get through." Nevertheless, the process of firming up the financing of Plymouth Oil will not hinder its operation. In fact, the company ran its very first test run in early December. " We have the plant in operation now, and we want to prove to lenders we have a good and profitable business plan," continues Hoffman. " I think we are very close now with several interested investors. The problem we face, though, is that this is the first- ever business model of this sort, so we have to prove ourselves." He adds that the company is looking to the local community and beyond for investors, noting that Plymouth Energy is 50 percent foreign- owned. Plymouth Energy began operation in January 2009 in a state- of- the- art $ 85 million facility that produces 50 million gallons of ethanol annually. It employs about 35 people. " We produce dry ethanol that qualifies for export," Hoffman says. " Not every ethanol- producing plant can accomplish that. We run a very efficient cost- per- gallon operation, and our profits are beginning to look quite decent." The company distributes the ethanol domestically for the most part, with some going to export to Canada. It is also beginning to sell into European markets.