Renewable Energy Group: Iowa Born, Globally Operating
8 Jun 2020
Renewable Energy Group (REG) is an Iowa success story crafted from innovation, good people, and sound decisions. Born in Ralston, headquartered in Ames, REG is the largest biodiesel producer in North America with locations throughout the U.S. and Europe. For more than two decades, REG has met the growing global demand for cleaner, lower-carbon fuel alternatives for the transportation and home heating industries by transforming renewable feedstocks into cleaner biomass-based diesel. These lower carbon intensity fuels reduce emissions, enabling companies to reduce their carbon footprints to foster a healthier environment.
This is impressive world-altering technology to come out of rural Iowa, but it makes sense. REG is proud of their connections to the agricultural industry. “Our business was born out of agriculture, and we continue to have close ties with this industry,” said Myron Danzer, General Manager for REG. “It has been beneficial for us to be located in one of the leading agricultural states in the nation, and to continue to have close relationships and support one another where we can.” One of those close relationships is with Landus Cooperative. “It’s really an exceptional partnership we have, where we purchase the soybean oil they produce and convert it into biodiesel at our facility,” said Danzer.
REG Ralston continues to grow. Two major business projects have been completed in the past two years. In 2018, the plant underwent improvements to increase production from 12 million gallons of biodiesel per year to 30 million gallons. They have been running at that capacity ever since. In 2019, a new office building was constructed to provide updated office space for plant management and staff. “This addition has been great to have to host small groups and meet visitors and guests at the facility,” said Danzer.
“In addition to our connection to agriculture, we are also grateful for this location because of the workforce we have hired out of Iowa,” said Danzer. “Since 2007, our business has grown exponentially, which means we have had to significantly grow our workforce. We know Iowans have strong work ethics, and we have seen this to be true over the past 13 years of our business.” That strong work ethic can be seen in people like Bill Ritchie who has served as the Plant Manager at REG Ralston and has done an extraordinary job operating the facility according to Danzer.
While REG Ralston continues to thrive, the relocation of the headquarters one hour east to Ames in 2007 strengthened an already robust relationship with Iowa State University. For example, in 2004, the company (when it was West Central) received a $1.9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture in cooperation with Iowa State to study and develop new technologies for the production of methyl esters. “Before we had all the technical capabilities at our Ames facility, we collaborated closely with Iowa State on technical questions and issues related to biodiesel,” said Danzer. “Today we are grateful for Iowa State for another reason: the outstanding workforce they provide. We have hired an exceptional number of Iowa State graduates to work at REG, all of whom are great assets to our team.” Additionally, REG has an extensive internship program each summer made up of forty-plus students with a portion of them coming from Iowa State.
With locations in Ralston, Ames, Newton, Mason City, and Des Moines, REG demonstrates that Iowa, with its robust resources, is a welcoming place to do business and a productive place from which to launch expansion. Companies looking to grow and improve should put the region high on their lists for consideration for future endeavors. Contact Western Iowa Advantage to learn more about the region, workforce, and available sites.