Hurdles Not Shutting Down Ethanol Maker, CEO Says
Plain Dealer Reporter
September 9, 2006
Rumors of the shutdown of Liquid Resources of Ohio are false, the company’s chief executive told Ohio Venture Association members in a speech Friday.
However, the state’s only ethanol producer has faced several challenges in its first year-and-a-half of operation.
The Medina company makes the clean-burning fuel additive by recycling waste alcohol – stale beer, used laboratory alcohol and the like.
Liquid Resources also recycles the bottles, cans and cardboard in which the wastes are packaged.
Initially, the company also planned to make ethanol from waste sugars, such as expired soda pop.
But equipment problems have stood in the way, CEO Tim Curtiss said, indicating that his company is moving forward with plans to recycle sugar wastes, too.
Liquid Resources, whose clients pay it to get rid of their unwanted byproducts, had been disposing of sugar wastes by treating them and releasing them to the county sewer.
On June 9, the Medina County Sewer District plugged the company’s sewer line because the sugar caused violations at the county’s wastewater treatment plant, said Ken Hotz, sanitary engineer for Medina County.
Although the county restored the company’s noncommercial sewer service, Liquid Resources was required to seal its flood drains and clean-outs so no sugar would be discharged in the event of a spill, Hotz said.
Then in late June came a surprise search of the company’s plant by state officials from the attorney general’s office and the Environmental Protection Agency who were looking for evidence of hazardous materials, Curtiss said.
Curtiss said he felt his company has done nothing wrong. Liquid Resources has hired trucks to take its sugar wastes to treatment plants that can handle them, he said.
Despite the problems, Liquid Resources broke even in the first quarter, which put it slightly ahead of schedule, Curtiss said. The company also plans to grow by establishing other locations nationwide, even worldwide. The company hired a new chief operating officer in June.
Curtiss offered some parting thoughts to entrepreneurs:
- Make sure you have more capital than you think you need;
- Surround yourself with the best advisers you can get;
- Be ready to change your business plan;
- Make sure you have ironclad contracts;
- and communicate frequently with stakeholders, whether you have good news or bad.