The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.
Burlington, Iowa- The honorable governor of Iowa Terry Branstad, 69, highlighted Big River Resources, Cooperative and Big River Resources LLC's 13th annual meeting on March 3rd as their special feature speaker.
Branstad became the longest running governor in the United States on December 14, 2015, and is now serving his 22nd year as Iowa's Governor. The governor is a strong advocate for ethanol in a state that has 43 ethanol plants. Branstad is also a strong voice for agriculture where Iowa leads the U.S. in corn production and is a leader in wind energy.
We ve come along way, but the fight isn't over, Branstad said in getting the story out about ethanol. It is making such a difference in transforming this state and the economy.
Governor Branstad was given a leadership award in Florida by Growth Energy for his outstanding work in fighting and promoting ethanol.
Along with the governor was special guest speaker Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northy.
Northy, said, It's extremely hard to start a business from scratch and grow it into the successful business Big River Resources has grown into today. He also commended Governor Branstad saying he was a champion for ethanol. He works to spend the time fighting for ethanol and more corn than any other state.
Northy said the United States is third in the world in corn production with China and Brazil leading.
Comptroller Jim Hall and General Manager Jim Leiting gave an impressive financial report to shareholders underscoring their debt free status, their reserves, and their constant risk management strategies as well as their generous return on investment through dividends.
They are constantly looking for ways to be more efficient, ways to grow and diversify with their most recent zein plant about to start production next month in Galva.
What did Big River Resources do with their record profits last year?
According to Ray Defenbaugh, president, CEO and chairman, the answer is closely tied to the company s original goals in entering the ethanol industry.
Those goals were to provide good jobs for people in the community and, secondly, to preserve the community and you have to have good jobs to preserve rural communities and the third is to provide good returns to our investors, he tells EPM.
Of course, our subgoals are that we are people of our word you can take it to the bank if we tell you something and, secondly, we treat people like we'd like to be treated, so fairness is an important concept.
Looking at the first and second goals, Big River continued to pay good salaries for the people who helped the company reach success and, on top of that, paid out extra bonuses during the time of profitability. Big River also paid local farmers generously for their crops.
Our goal never was for cheap grain, we were put into existence to build up the price of grain, to build up the local farmer, he says. In reference to the third and final goal, the company paid good dividends to its shareholders. In 2014, return on investment was 126.8 percent and return on equity was 45 percent. The strategy is working for Big River. We've been in existence over 10 years and we ve never had a loss year and we've never failed to pay a dividend, Defenbaugh says, adding that the company has no debt and more than adequate cash reserves on hand to weather any unexpected downturns or capital requirements.
The period of profitability also allowed Big River to put money back into its facilities, with several capital investment projects.
One example is improvements being made into the company s grain procurement infrastructure, which includes six elevators.
We've upgraded them with large capacity dryers and bin storage and so forth, he says.
Then there's the zein production plant currently under construction at Big River's Galva facility. It will be finalized and we will have product for sale this early summer, late spring, he says.
Last but not least, Big River contributes heavily to organizations and causes that support the growth of the ethanol industry, as well as local groups, such as clubs for children and local parks. When we have a good year like last year, we put even more into those areas, he says.
On Big River s list is Prime the Pump, a nonprofit group formed to expand the availability of E15 and higher blends, American Ethanol, the group that partners with NASCAR and others to put ethanol on the racetrack, and more.
The company is also a member of the Renewable Fuels Association, Growth Energy, the American Coalition for Ethanol and the U.S. Grains Council, to support U.S. and global markets for ethanol and distillers grains.
We think that whatever benefits the industry, will lift everybody up, he says.
Both Big River Resources Coop and the LLC meetings took place at the Pzazz Conference Center with Big River providing a catered meal to employees, shareholders, and guests.